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Major Taylor mural unveiled as part of Bicentennial Legends series

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indianapolis cycling legend is leaving another major mark on the city as part of the Arts Council Bicentennial Legends mural series.

Major Taylor’s legacy is living on through art.

Taylor fans say his story is one of perseverance and incredible skill. For the next few days, cycling events will happen around the city to honor him and perhaps motivate others.

Taylor’s mural on the Barnes and Thornburg Building, 11 S. Meridian St., is larger than life, much like the legacy he left.

“It’s really a fantastic treat to see something that me and others on the coalition have worked for,” said Anthony Bridgeman, a Major Taylor Coalition board member.

Born in 1878 in Indianapolis when a Black man didn’t have much hope of achieving greatness, Taylor defied the odds, eventually becoming the first African American world-champion professional cyclist, a U.S. sprint champion and one of the world’s first Black athletic superstars.

“Major was definitely a great example (of) determination, having incredible drive and matching that with incredible skill and perseverance,” Bridgeman said.

The Arts Council of Indianapolis, the Major Taylor Coalition and others are behind this plan. The design was completed by Chicago-based artist Shawn Michael Warrens.

But, this is just one way Taylor’s legacy is staying alive; another is cycling.

“Unless people come here for events, they may not know this place is named after him, so (it’s great) to see something big, in-your-face boom in downtown,” said Michael Kubancsek director of cycling operations at the Marian University Major Taylor Velodrome.

For the next few days, it will be home to a national championship. Contestants will race around the track hoping to one day build a legacy that matches the name on the wall: Taylor.

“Many people don’t know about the first African-American champ in cycling (who) fought a lot of adversity and had a storied career,” Kubancsek said, “and was able to achieve quite a bit. We’re just happy (for) him to be recognized.”

Momentum Indy Bike races are Friday and Saturday.

A mural featuring Mayor Taylor was unveiled Sept. 9, 2021, at the Marian University Major Taylor Velodrome. (WISH Photo)

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