Black Cowboys Are Real

A Black History Month Highlight

February 18, 2020

Out of every four cowboys, one was Black.  That’s according to a recent article in Smithsonian magazine.     As Americans settled the western frontier, Black cowboys helped lead the way.  While Hollywood has pretty much “white washed” the Wild West, many of the first settlers were freed or escaped slaves who went west and became the Black cowboys of the American frontier.  Many historical accounts of their presence and contributions have either been lost, stolen or strayed.      


*Photo #1:  Cross That River:  A 5 member ensemble featuring jazzman Allan Harris that told the untold story of the Black west.

That history came alive through the presentation of “Cross That River.”  Sponsored in part by the Zeiders American Dream Theater in Virginia Beach and the Virginia African American Cultural Center, “Cross That River” featured a 5-piece jazz ensemble mixing jazz, blues, country and R&B to tell the untold story of the Black West.    It chronicled the life of Blue, a run-away slave, who escapes from slavery to Texas to become one of America’s first Black Cowboys.   Part fiction, part slave narrative and part poignant love story – “Cross That River” told of the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of the American West and celebrated the legacy of Afro-Americans in that part of American history.  “Cross That River” open my eyes to a part of our  history which had  been severely ignored  Black History is way more dynamic than just the Civil Rights Movement  which obviously should always be remembered and admired.  At the end of the day it’s not about Black cowboys or white cowboys.  It’s about equality.


*Photo #2:  Dale with  the Buffalo Riders of Hampton Roads.  A African-American equestrian group dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of the Buffalo SOldiers and the black cowboys who helped tame the western frontier.