About the Project
Internationally recognized Black bicycle racer and racial justice advocate Marshall “Major” Taylor (1878-1932) will be honored with the first public mural in the City of Indianapolis Bicentennial Commission’s “Indiana Legends” mural series.
The mural is set to be created in late spring or early summer 2021, if enough money is raised from the community to help cover the mural’s cost.
We need your help to make this mural happen! Read on to find out why Indianapolis needs this mural now.
Who is Major Taylor, and why is he important?
In 1899, Major Taylor, who was born and raised in Indianapolis, became the first African American world-champion professional cyclist and only the second U.S. Black world champion in any sport. He was the U.S. sprint champion in 1899 and 1900, set numerous world records during his lifetime, and became a pioneering role model for other athletes facing racial discrimination. He shattered the color line for his sport and earned brilliant success and world fame despite the worst kind of sabotage, death threats, and unfair rules maneuvers designed to keep him out of competition.
During his lifetime, Taylor openly called for "simple justice, equal rights, and a square deal" for Black people, not only in sports "but in every honorable game of human endeavor." His message predated the urgent civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s by a half-century, and anticipated today’s Black Lives Matter struggles by nearly 100 years.
Sadly, by the time of his death in 1932 he was all but forgotten, and his athletic and social justice legacy is not currently part of Indianapolis’ public art. Having a Taylor portrait mural will remind us that the cause of equity in cycling is always ongoing: not only to avoid discriminatory penalties for “riding while Black,” but also to remember Taylor when planning bike-friendly streets that serve all riders.
“Dedicating a mural to recognize Taylor in his hometown celebrates our community’s commitment to embrace and honor his historic achievements,” said Anthony Bridgeman, vice president and relationship manager for PNC Community Development Banking and a member of the Major Taylor Coalition. “Our hope is that our efforts to recognize his international legacy will generate ongoing interest and reverence for him not only as an Indianapolis legend, but as an inspiration to future generations.”
Who’s asking for funds?
The Major Taylor Coalition, an informal group of Central Indiana residents from many backgrounds who are passionate about seeing Taylor honored in his hometown, seeks public contributions to help complete this mural project.
SRAM Corporation, a bicycle components manufacturer with a facility in Indianapolis, has committed to matching the total amount of public contributions raised (up to $15,000).
We already have several mural project funders, including the Bicentennial Commission, Glick Philanthropies, and the CIBA Foundation, but the mural project is still short of what is needed to pay the artist and provide them with the necessary materials and equipment. With your help, and SRAM’s match, we can #HonorMajorTaylor now and into the future.
Where will the mural be located?
The Major Taylor mural will be painted on the east wall of Barnes & Thornburg’s historic building at 11 S. Meridian St. The building is near the former location of Downtown bicycle shops where the young Taylor did trick-riding on the street to attract customers, and where he earned his nickname for wearing a distinctive military uniform.
“We are deeply honored to play a role in highlighting the significant contributions of Major Taylor,” said Heather Willey, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg and a member of its management committee. “This project aligns with Barnes & Thornburg’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and our core values, and is an opportunity for us all to show respect for his achievements in the face of unrelenting racism. It is also an occasion to recognize his integrity, generosity of spirit, and invaluable contribution to America’s struggle for equality.”
What will the funds support?
The cost of a mural includes: wall preparation, artist fees and expenses, additional labor, paint and other materials, painting supplies, equipment rental, parking space rental during the painting of the mural, and signage.
The cost also includes a maintenance fund, so it can remain in good repair and looking fresh for its expected lifetime.
Thank you for your support!