Cowboys, legendary African American figures who drove great cattle
herds across the early west, have been idealized in motion pictures,
television, and books. The cowboy serves as the great American icon
representing courage, hardiness, and independence.
of black cowboys have been scarce in popular culture giving the false
impression that African Americans were not among the men and women who
settled the west. In reality, by the time the huge cattle drives of
cowboy legend ended, at least 5,000 black men worked as cowboys.
word cowboy refers to the men who drove herds of cattle from ranchland
in Texas over hundreds of miles of rough and dangerous terrain to the
stockyards in the north. A typical crew consisted of one trail chief,
eight cowboys, a wrangler to take care of the horses, and a cook. One
historian estimates that an average crew would have included two or
three black cowboys.
Black cowboys are an important part of our past, present, and future. We strive to keep the legend alive and growing.