Featured Athlete Marshall “Major” Taylor: This is the story of a young African-American boy who grew up in Indianapolis over a hundred years ago. Despite living at a time when African-Americans were often denied basic rights, Marshall Taylor became a world champion cyclist. Marshall earned the nickname “Major” when he performed bicycle tricks as a very young boy dressed in a military style costume. When he was a teenager he stopped performing tricks and moved on to bicycle racing – and he was really, really good – world champion good! His story is inspiring because he persevered even when there were many people who didn’t want him to even be in a race, let alone win, just because he was African-American. Sometimes he rode fast just to get away from angry people chasing him! Author: Marlene Targ Brill
In Indianapolis, we have the Major Taylor Velodrome, a world-class bicycle racing track named for this cycling great. You can ride your bike and also use inline skates at the Velodrome. If you want to try riding there, it’s best if you are at least 10 years old. Call ahead and see if you can arrange a time to go try it out. And don’t forget your helmet! 3649 Cold Spring Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46222 Velodrome Phone: 317-327-8356.
Featured Athlete Oscar Robertson: Have you ever heard of Indiana’s own Olympian Oscar Robertson? In 1955 Oscar went to Crispus Attucks High School. Oscar’s team won the Indiana State Championship, becoming the first all-black school in the nation to win a state title. Robertson led Crispus Attucks to another championship in 1956. Oscar was so good he played in College and went on to win a gold medal with the US Basketball team at the 1960 Olympic Games. During his NBA career with the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks, Robertson became one of the top-scoring guards of all time, scoring 26,710 points.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an award-winning artist? Words to My Life’s Song is an autobiography that gives a glimpse into the imaginings and memories of three-time Coretta Scott King Award winning illustrator, Ashley Bryan. Mr Bryan frames the book as an afternoon spent walking around his home on an island in Maine. As we wander, Mr. Bryan tells us about his life growing up in the Bronx, going to art school, being in the army, teaching art, and discovering his passion for illustrating books. Along the way, we see a lot of his colorful paintings, stained glass and cut paper creations. This book is a bright, joyful celebration of life and creativity.
Wilma Rudolph had polio when she was six years old. Polio is a virus that can cause paralysis. Now we have a vaccine for polio but that wasn’t invented yet when Wilma was little. The polio did not paralyze Wilma, but it did leave one leg crooked and Wilma had to wear a brace to help her walk.
When Wilma was nine she took the brace off and when she was eleven she started to play sports in school. Eventually, Wilma won gold medals at the Olympics as a runner. For the next two weeks you can watch the stories of Olympic athletes at the 2010 Vancourver Winter Olympic games. Lots of them will have inspirational stories too. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to compete at the Olympic Level.
Take a look at this great video of Wilma talking about her own life and her experiences at the Olympics.
Featured Book: Heart and Soul Sometimes history can be overwhelming for me. It’s hard to keep the people and places and dates straight. I really like Heart and Soul because the history unfolds like a story. In fact, the book is written like an old lady talking. It’s like listening to your Grandmother explain it.
This is the kind of book that makes you proud to be a part of your country and it doesn’t matter if you are black or white or young or old. Our country is only 236 years old. That’s a baby country. And in that time we have worked through some struggles that could have ended really badly. Instead, we have struggled together to work out our differences and find common ground and build a life together.
This book shows how a country can go from thinking a black person was property to having a black president. It explains how changes were slowly made to help make that happen. It doesn’t say the job is done, but it shows how we got to where we are today. And it has the BEST paintings. Author: Kadir Nelson