Running from Foster to Highland streets through the heart of downtown Worcester — and never more than a few blocks away from the infamous incline of George Street — is Major Taylor Boulevard.
The bustling thoroughfare is named after Marshall “Major” Taylor, a pioneering athlete who trained to become the first black world champion cyclist in 1899 by repeatedly sprinting the steep 500 feet between Main and Harvard streets. The second world-champion black athlete, after boxer George Dixon, Taylor’s grueling workout inspired an annual fundraising event at George Street that continues with its 15th edition in July.
The American sprint champion in 1900 and one-time holder of seven world records, Taylor retired in 1910 at 32 years old, fell on hard times and died destitute at 53 in a Chicago hospital, his legacy all but forgotten already.
Locally, the Major Taylor Association has attended to that legacy with events, including the George Street Challenge, not to mention a downtown monument, for the man known as “The Worcester Whirlwind” and “The Black Cyclone.” A number of books have been written, as well, but many feel his impactful life deserves more attention
In an effort to shed more light on Taylor’s heroics on a national level, a group from Beverly Hills, California — including producer Rashid Bahati, author John Howard and script writer Rob Walker — have come together to create a feature film, “The Black Cyclone.”