I remember the exact moment I learned about them. Black Cowboys. The tales and history have always been there, yet, it wasn’t until I was cycling in Palos Verdes as a child with my father that I learned about them. I was intrigued by the town’s horse Xing signs and equestrian culture when my father paused: Black Cowboys exist, they always have. Cowboys are not only White.
I felt a sense of pride. As an Afro-Latina growing up in Carson, California, Compton’s neighboring city, I heard about cowboys and would even see the horse Xing signs, but I never saw Black Cowboys. This conversation with my father and the sense of pride I saw in him when telling me about them is a moment that will live with me forever.
You see, even with the diversity of Southern California, dominant history and narratives tend to exclude the diverse history of cowboy culture. Black Cowboys always existed and even more incredible is that they existed right next door to my hometown. When we think of Black experiences, society at times forgets about the diversity among us, and when we think of Compton we also at times forget the diversity of this beautiful city. And when you combine both experiences, there are two words that come to mind: The Compton Cowboys.
The Compton Cowboys, composed of a group of lifelong friends, pride themselves on “improv[ing] their community through horseback.” From the Richland Farms, in Compton, California, their mission is to challenge stereotypes surrounding their community all while showing the world the rich legacy of Black and African-Americans in equestrian heritage, culture, and history.
The Compton Cowboys: A New Generation of Cowboys in America’s Urban Heartland explores the history and current realities of these young modern-day black Cowboys working to uplift their community through horses and ranching lifestyle. Where the Old West meets the New West.
The library presents the LA Made program, Compton Cowboys: How Horses Turned Friends Into Family and Saved a Community with Walter Thompson-Hernandez, author of The Compton Cowboys: A New Generation of Cowboys in America’s Urban Heartland, and Randy Savvy, leader of the Compton Cowboys on Thursday, March 25 at 4 p.m. Thompson-Hernandez and Randy Savvy will discuss cowboys and community.