Black cowboys are real and here are some cities you can see them in action

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  • Published on March 24, 2023
  • Last Updated May 15, 2023
  • In Passport

Black cowboys have traded in the ranch for the pavement of metropolitan cities. Here are some cities where you can pull up to on four legs.

Despite what Hollywood has depicted, Black cowboys are real and have been prominent throughout midwest and southern states.

Between the 1860s and 1880s, 25% of the cowboys that traveled the trails of America were Black. Typically, enslaved people or those born into enslaved families living on plantations with cattle were taught wrangling capabilities as “cowhands.”

As freed people, they continued to use their skills on various ranches and plantations. The Smithsonian shared that one in four cowboys was Black at the height of the lifestyle being a profession.

The history of Black cowboys has been more evident in places such as Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Missouri. The need for cattle drivers and wranglers declined with the appearance of railroads and other shipping systems in once-desolate areas. Although the professional demand for cowboys differed, the fascination with their lifestyle remained.

The flair and vibrancy that they provided was seen as entertainment. Each cowboy had a unique way of wrangling cattle, leading on horseback, or having their horse perform tricks.

This showmanship led to events like the rodeo, the holy grail for cowboy culture. The infamousBill Picket Rodeo is the standard for showcasing Black cowboys and their impact on the culture.

The annual event’s success has inspired an influx of nationwide events rooted in the cowboy way, such as bull riding and calf roping.

With the celebration of Black people in the space, there has also been an increase in Black cowboy groups and events in areas outside of the Midwest. They are popping up in metropolitan cities such as Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte, NC.

The rolling green lands of the ranch have been exchanged for paved city streets. Here are some places across the country where the mustang that stops at a red light with you may be on four legs rather than four wheels.

Charlotte Cowboys

Compton Cowboys

Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club in Philadelphia

New York City Federation of Black Cowboys

Oakland Black Cowboy Association