A Poem For Major Taylor
Major Taylor-Style and Grace
In the early 1870s Gilbert and Saphronia left Kentucky.
They hoped that, perhaps, Indiana might prove lucky.
Gilbert didn’t get credit for having fought in the Civil War.
Even afterward his glimpse of freedom was but a shooting star.
Along the railroad and canal, Gilbert Taylor tried his hand
At eking out a life, and farming a small plot of land.
Gilbert’s dream of prosperity didn’t come to pass.
His hopes would all fall through like the sands in an hour glass.
A coachman for the rich would soon be Gilbert’s fate.
He already had three children when Marshall came in 1878.
He and Saphronia would have three more to make the number seven.
But on the wings of Marshall they could fly a little closer to heaven.
Marshall would assume his mother’s faith as if it were built-in.
“Life would be a contest of stamina in a race against all sin.”
She taught him about God, about what was wrong and right.
Punishment in the hereafter would be applied equally to black and white.
As a child in Indianapolis he’d quickly come to know.
Hatred, poverty, prejudice, and something called Jim Crow.
There was nothing to discuss, young Marshall Taylor would see.
He could take the bus, but his seat would be among the last three.
Marshall Taylor would sweep and dust for only six bucks a week.
He performed his home-made bike tricks, but God soon would bless the meek.
Now they called him Major Taylor, because of the uniform he wore.
At the end of his life he deserved a better title and surely a whole lot more.
At the age of thirteen, with tears on his face, he was forced into a race,
A young black kid was set out front for experienced white racers to chase.
The pistol exploded and the chase began. At halfway he would ache.
For reasons he didn’t know, he rode like a man, this race they wouldn’t take.
He crossed the finish line with less than three lengths to spare.
He won this race that was more like a chase, of hounds against the hare.
He avoided the humiliating capture was awarded the gold medal for the race.
He rode even faster home to show his mother the medal and see her glowing face.
Marshall “Major” Taylor was talented, brave and answered every call.
In the Six Day races, although he was small, he would dazzle them all.
Major Taylor would set world records and win all sorts of races.
He won with explosive speed and put smiles on thousands of faces.
He would be the world champion and had such grace and style.
He won so much but the biggest prize, may have been his mother’s smile.
Major Taylor A World Champion 1878-1932
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