Black Cowboys

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In the popular imagination, the cowboy has long been identified as white--but at the height of the cattle-ranching period in the 19th century, more than one third of cowboys were African American. Black cowboy culture is still thriving today, but is little known to the general public. This marginalization stems from both official and unofficial segregation in competitive rodeos, as well as Hollywood’s commercially driven exclusion of black cowboys from Western genre films and television.
Beginning in 2008, Andrea Robbins (born 1963) and Max Becher (born 1964) set out to photograph this history and its legacy in contemporary black cowboy culture, shooting black riding clubs, black rodeo leagues and charity events across America. In this volume, Robbins and Becher document this hidden history of the black cowboy and cowgirl and, in the process, reformulate and expand the iconography of the cowboy.