John Baxter Taylor Jr.

To the dream that you thought was unattainable…
Chase em’ down!

To the opponent who told you that you weren’t good enough…
Chase em’ down

To the obstacles before you…
Chase em’ down

Your past does not define you. Instead, use it as a road map to grow and defy all odds. That’s exactly how the story of John Baxter Taylor Jr. goes.

Born the son of former slaves on November 3, 1882, in Washington, D.C., who would have thought that one day John would become the first African-American to win an Olympic Gold Medal.

Starting from humble beginnings, his parents instilled in John the value of the education that they never had. In addition to keeping a heavy focus on his studies, John discovered a love for track and field. This hobby soon turned into a passion; one that he was quite remarkable at.

He became the fastest high school quarter-miler in the country while attending Brown Preparatory School in Philadelphia.

He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania where he obtained a degree from the School of Veterinary Medicine. While there as a freshman, John became a two-time champion of the ICAAAA (Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America) in the quarter-mile.

He became known for his strategic tactic of allowing his opponents to think that they were going to win the race. As soon as they were going to reach the finish line, John would sprint ahead of them and “chase em’ down” to the finish line and win the race.

He carried this tactic with him as he went on to compete in the Olympics. John’s Grand Finale came on July 25, 1908 during the Summer Olympics held in London. There he competed in the 1600-meter medley relay. John Baxter Taylor and the American team won the race and John became the first African American to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.

As most greats do, John was taken from us way to soon, At the height of his career. The same year he obtained his degree and the same year he won his gold medal, on December 2, 1908 at the age of twenty-six, John Baxter Taylor Jr. died of pneumonia. During his brief career, John earned forty-five cups and seventy medals.

Many don’t know his name; but through the display of this visual art, his story will forever live on.

 John Baxter Taylor Jr. shirt








Essington, A. (2009, February 26) John Baxter Taylor Jr. (1882-1908). Retrieved from
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