More than a century ago, bicycle racing was one of the most popular spectator sports worldwide. In the midst of this era of cycling athletes, Major Taylor – a remarkable Black racer – captivated American and European audiences with his powerful physique and unmatched talent to win (often at the last possible second).
From the start, Taylor dominated the racing scene, setting records as a teenager and becoming a world champion at the young age of 20. His unparalleled skills led him to embark on a globetrotting journey, competing in races as far as Australia and accumulating immense wealth, surpassing even the most esteemed athletes of his time. The masses flocked to witness his awe-inspiring performances while newspapers adorned him with praise and admiration.
But while Major Taylor’s was an outstanding athlete and a racial trailblazer in the predominantly white world of cycling, he was also an author. When he penned his autobiography: The Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World, he came to Harlem in 1928 to promote and sell his self-published work.
Major Taylor was only the second black athlete to claim a world championship title in any sport. However, despite his extraordinary accomplishments, he passed away in 1932 at the age of 53 in an unmarked grave.
The incredible legacy of Major Taylor’s life of success, resilience, and triumph is regularly honored by the numerous Major Taylor cycling clubs that ride in his memory.
A fantastic profile of Philadelphia’s Mayor-Elect, Cherelle Parker, who ran on a platform of public safety and investment in the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, was published in the online version of the New Yorker magazine:
“I’m not one of those people,” Parker told me. “I’m not a defund-er. I’m not a left-er. I think a whole lot of it is a bunch of bullshit.” Instead, she ran as an outspoken centrist, promising to make Philadelphia “safe, clean, and green.”
Parker’s 11-year-old son is named Langston, after Parker’s literary hero and a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance.
“Langston Hughes represents dignity,” Parker told me. “I, too, sing America.” Her favorite poem, Hughes’s “Mother to Son,” opens, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” and speaks to the challenges Parker has faced. “Every policy prescription I have is deeply rooted, to be quite honest, in pain that I experienced as a child,” she said.
Parker’s mother was sixteen when she gave birth to Parker in Philadelphia; her biological father was rarely around. When she was eleven, her mother died; Philadelphia’s mayor-elect was raised by her grandmother, a domestic worker, and her grandfather, a disabled Navy veteran, along with a larger communal network. “Sometimes your bloodline isn’t enough,” she said. “You need your loveline. The loveline is the village.”
Parker is vehemently opposed to injection sites like OnPoint, fearing that injection sites will perpetuate the sale of illegal drugs.
“Someone called me anti-science, but that’s bullshit,” she said. “When you’ve had loved ones suffer from addiction, the last thing they needed was a safe place to do the drugs.”
The New Yorker article notes that Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party and are behind every labor movement, women’s movement, and the civil rights movement. Black women in Philadelphia, Harlem, and America have been doing the work all the time. Now, with Charelle Parker, Black women are increasingly getting the opportunity to lead.