dcsimg Major Taylor Velodrome Celebrates World-Class African American Cyclist

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Franciscan Pilgrims' Progress

Pilgrims - Susan Jennifer Ellen

Five days into our time in Assisi, the pilgrims from Marian University have all experienced in new ways what our Franciscan sponsorship values mean—for us as individuals and for the Marian community.

Prayer has been a constant for us. Daily Eucharist—whether in small chapels, large basilicas or our hotel--has become the centering experience of our journey. More than half of us are not Catholic, but this most significant of all Catholic rituals has embraced all and engaged us in the formation of a community of individuals renewed in our commitment to the mission of Marian University—to be a great Catholic university dedicated to excellent teaching and learning in the Franciscan and liberal arts tradition.

Reverence for the dignity of every individual stands out as the first, and perhaps most treasured, Franciscan value. Meeting Francis and Clare as we have done—intimately and in amazing detail—has shown us how different they were from each other and from us. But we have also witnessed how much they cared for each other and for others, especially the poor and the sick, the outcast and the vulnerable. Through their eyes we see that every man and woman is made in God’s image, a wonder to behold, no matter how different from us. Marian’s commitment to serve a diverse student body has been reaffirmed as an incredibly important feature of who we are and what we stand for as a Catholic Franciscan community...read more

Pilgrims - Susan Jennifer Ellen

Five days into our time in Assisi, the pilgrims from Marian University have all experienced in new ways what our Franciscan sponsorship values mean—for us as individuals and for the Marian community.

Prayer has been a constant for us. Daily Eucharist—whether in small chapels, large basilicas or our hotel--has become the centering experience of our journey. More than half of us are not Catholic, but this most significant of all Catholic rituals has embraced all and engaged us in the formation of a community of individuals renewed in our commitment to the mission of Marian University—to be a great Catholic university dedicated to excellent teaching and learning in the Franciscan and liberal arts tradition.

Major Taylor Velodrome Celebrates World-Class African American Cyclist

by Katie Bradley | Feb 20, 2014

In celebration of Black History Month, we are highlighting Marshall Walter “Major” Taylor, namesake of the Major Taylor Velodrome, a part of the Lake Sullivan Sports Complex of which Marian University became manager in 2011.

“To call the Major Taylor Velodrome our home track is such an honor and a reminder to always strive to be the best. His name gives us greater significance,” said Dean Peterson, head coach of Marian University’s 24-time national championship cycling team and executive director at the Indy Cycloplex.

Taylor was an American cyclist who won the world one-mile track cycling championship in 1899 after setting numerous world records and overcoming racial discrimination. He was the second African American man to win a world championship.

One of eight children, Major Taylor was born to Gilbert and Sophronia Taylor, on November 26, 1878, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gilbert Taylor, a Civil War veteran, worked as a coachman in the home of a wealthy Indiana family, the Southards. Because Taylor’s father often brought his son to work with him, Taylor became close friends with the Southard’s son who was the same age. From the age of eight to twelve, Taylor lived with the Southards. During this time, he received a bike from the family and quickly became an expert trick rider.

When the Southards moved to Chicago, Illinois, Taylor had to fend for himself and earned money staging exhibitions and performing cycling stunts outside a bicycle shop. It is believed that Taylor performed the stunts wearing a soldier’s uniform, hence the nickname, “Major.”  

By the age of 13, Taylor won his first bike race. By 15, he beat the track record for a one-mile race. In 1895, he won a 75-mile road race outside Indianapolis, after which he was banned from the Indianapolis track for racial reasons. The same year, Taylor moved to Worchester, Massachusetts with his employer and racing manager Louis “Birdie” Munger.  

Taylor quickly became a professional cyclist, at one time holding seven world records. He traveled the world competing and winning despite frequent encounters of racism and attempts to ban him from or sabotage him during, races. He prevailed, setting world records in all races distances on the track and road.

 “He was a pioneer. The significance of what he did when you consider the true prejudice and plots to take him out of competition that he encountered, is nothing short of incredible. He worked against all odds and continued to win. He was committed to excellence, strength, and perseverance,” said Peterson.  

The velodrome opened in 1982 and was a facility required to host that year’s National Sports Festival. It was the first building built with public money in Indianapolis to be named for a black person and has played host to many national and international competitions, including the 1987 Pan Am Games. 
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