Katherine Towle Knox (October 7, 1874 – October 11, 1900) was a bicycle racer and the first African American to be accepted into the League of American Wheelmen (LAW).
|Born||October 7, 1874|
|Died||October 11, 1900 (aged 26)|
Knox joined LAW in 1893 at a time when few women were members. The organization changed their constitution to only allow white members in 1894. In 1895 the organization clarified that constitutional changes are not retroactive and Knox's membership in the group was no longer questioned. Knox persisted in racing despite sometimes being denied access to races as well as service by restaurants and hotels while traveling. Knox was known both for her cycling ability, taking first place in a LAW meeting Waltham, Massachusetts, as well as her fashionable cycling outfits. Unlike her male counterparts of the time, much attention was given to her appearance and wardrobe. She was a strong rider, participating in and completing several century rides.
Knox was born to Katherine Towle, a white woman from East Parsonfield, Maine who was a millworker, and John Knox a black man from Philadelphia who worked as a tailor. She was born in the neighborhood of East Cambridge in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her family moved to Boston in the 1880s. Knox worked as a seamstress and dressmaker. She had one brother, Ernest Knox. She died in 1900 from kidney disease and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in a public lot. A headstone was erected for her by family members on September 29, 2013.
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