Hennessy and the National Brotherhood of Cyclists Look to Honor a Sports Pioneer

Never stop never settle. These words have always been associated with the Hennessy, the world’s most respected cognac. For over 250 years, Hennessy has been serving the world and quickly became a fan favorite in America and a staple in the black community when it comes to liquors. Hennessy is the world’s larger cognac producer selling nearing 50 million bottles a year worldwide. But now the world’s best-selling cognac is taking on a new challenge. Hennessy is partnering with the National Brotherhood of Cyclists to organize a series of tribute bike rides to honor groundbreaking track cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor—the first African American to achieve the level of world champion.  Also because of Taylor’s advocacy for education, a $25,000 scholarship will be awarded to one deserving person towards higher education.

Marshall Taylor was the first international African American superstar whose efforts exceeded crossing the color barrier because he was known as the absolute best in his sport. The Six Day Race at Madison Square Garden in 1895 set off Taylor’s career. Just 30 years after the abolishment of slavery he was the only African American man only of 28 cyclists to participate. After cycling for a six-day total of 1,732 miles, Taylor finished eighth in the competition but the world knew he was a force to be reckoned with. He went on to set seven cycling world records, becoming the first African American world champion in sports history. Taylor’s efforts are still inspiring to many athletes today. Nigel Sylvester, a professional BMX rider, values what Taylor did in his career saying, “I want to smash the glass ceiling similar to Mr. Marshall Taylor, and that the thing that inspires me. How can I take this bike riding thing of mine so much further like he did?”

Earlier this year Hennessy launched their “Wild Rabbit” campaign with their Marshall Taylor commercial which opened the eyes to many about his unknown story. Marshall’s dominance of competition around the world combined with his story of overcoming color lines is the perfect embodiment of “Never stop. Never settle.” What was also so special about Major Taylor was his fight for equal education. After retiring from competition, Taylor applied to Worcester Polytechnic Institute to study engineering even though he didn’t have a high school diploma. Though he didn’t get into WPI, he never stopped his pursuit because he understood the importance of education.