The event was a chance to ride, give away bikes, and promote the message that bicycling has a valuable role in African-American communities despite what some may think.
Anthony Taylor, one of the festival organizers and one of the founders of the Major Taylor Bicycling Club of Minnesota, said you often hear the phrase “black people don’t swim” in the African American community.
“Of course they swim, but in America we hear it all the time. It has become the truth and so now you see kids who say black folks don’t swim. That’s a barrier to living better, living healthier,” Taylor said.
Taylor said a similar myth has developed around biking. He said many African Americans just don’t see biking as something that black people do.
“And we have to say that isn’t true, because I know the African American community is focused on improving their quality of life, improving their health, and we see the bike as a solution to that,” he said.
We think it would be quite valuable bringing this national summit to Detroit in the near future, especially given the recent progress on the Underground Railroad bicycle routes coming to Detroit.
We’ll make that recommendation to our local Major Taylor Club, the Metro Detroit Cycling Club.
We’re not sure how much Major Taylor raced in Detroit. However, one of his biggest nemesis was Detroit Athletic Club racer and national champion Tom Cooper. And off the track, Cooper was a racist who tried banning Taylor from racing.
Cooper did race against Taylor for the 1901 American Championship held in front of 10,000 New York fans at Madison Square Gardens. Taylor wrote in his autobiography, “If ever a race was run for blood this one was.”
Cooper lost in a remarkably huge manner and refused to shake Taylor’s hand at the end.
Perhaps this result encouraged Cooper to retire from bicycle racing and jump into auto racing (eventually with Henry Ford.)