John Baxter Taylor was the first African-American to win an Olympic Gold Medal and the first to represent the United States at an international sporting competition.
At 5’11 and 160 pounds, Taylor was a tall, lanky and swift runner. In his short yet prolific athletic career, Taylor earned forty-five cups and seventy medals.
Following Taylor’s untimely death just a few months after his Olympic wins, Harry Porter, the Acting President of the 1908 American Olympic Team described Taylor as “...more as the man (than the athlete) that John Taylor made his mark.
Quite unostentatious, genial, (and) kindly, the fleet-footed, far-famed athlete was beloved wherever known...As a beacon of his race, his example of achievement in athletics, scholarship and manhood will never wane, if indeed it is not destined to form with that of Booker T. Washington.
Taylor was born on November 3, 1882 in Washington D.C. Sometime during Taylor’s childhood, the family relocated to Philadelphia. Attending Central High School, Taylor became a member of the school’s track team. During his senior year, Taylor served as the anchor runner for Central High School’s one mile-relay team at the Penn Relays. Although Central High School finished fifth in the championship race, Taylor was considered the best quarter-mile runner in Philadelphia. Taylor was the only African-American member of the track team.
Graduating from Central High School in 1902, Taylor attended Brown Preparatory School.
Not only was Taylor a member of the track team, he became the star runner. While at Brown Prep, Taylor was considered the best prep school quarter-miler in the United States. During that year, Taylor won the Princeton Interscholastics as well as the Yale Interscholastics and anchored the school’s track team at the Penn Relays.
A year later, Taylor enrolled in the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and again, joined the track team. As a member of University of Pennsylvania’s varsity track team, Taylor won the 440-yard run at the