Cyclist Marshall 'Major' Taylor broke racial barriers, became world-famous champion

This African-American cyclist overcame profound instances of racism to become one of the most successful, highest-paid athletes of his time.


February is all about celebrating black history, and throughout the month, we'll be honoring influential African Americans whose stories you might not yet know. Some are pioneers in their field, some helped spark the civil rights movement and all have contributed incredible things to not only black history, but to the history of the United States as a whole.

Marshall "Major" Taylor was the first African-American world champion in any sport, as well as the world's first black cycling champion. During his time as a professional bicycle racer, he earned seven world records, breaking racial barriers every step of the way. He overcame racial prejudice to achieve national and international victories, and at the peak of his career, he was one of the highest-paid athletes of his time, black or white.

Watch the video above to learn more about the life and accolades of this world-class, trailblazing athlete.