Born in Washington DC in 1882 John Baxter Taylor Jr. was an accomplished African American track and Field athlete. Credited in being the first African American to win the prestigious Olympic Gold Medal in 1908 during the London games.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine and a member of one of the first Black Fraternities, Sigma Pi Phi
The 5’11, 160 lb framed young man was the first African American to represent the United States in an international sports competition of the London Games in 1908. Running with an eight-and-a-half foot stride. This particular 400-meter relay final was controversial . “British officials called the race before the four competitors crossed the finish line asserting that one of the three Americans fouled the British runner”, disqualifying one of John Baxter Taylor Jr.’s teammates . Which resulted in the Americans refusing to run again. Finalizing in a win for the British to take the gold.
Yes, John Baxter Taylor Jr. was a member of the gold medal medley relay team at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. Running the third leg, performing the 400 meters and was the first African American to win an Olympic Gold Medal. In a final of 49.8 seconds.
Victoriously but sadly, after returning from the London Olympics Games, at age 26 John Baxter London Jr., died in December of 1908 from typhoid fever.
“In a letter to Taylor’s parents, Harry Porter, fellow Irish American Athletic Club member and acting President of the 1908 U.S. Olympic Team wrote: “It is far 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.”
John Baxter Taylor Jr. AfricanAmerica The Beautiful, earned forty-five cups and seventy medals during his brief track career.