The Originals

The Originals

Did you know? One out of four cowboys were Black men. They were taught the cowboy way of life by Vaqueros, who were Mexican/Spanish ranchers. The whites were called “cowhands” while the Black people were termed "cowboys" because of their slavery status.

They were mainly concentrated in Texas where their American owners established large cattle ranches. Around 1825, the black people occupied over 25% of this city and in 1860, over 182,566 slaves were living in Texas. The great significance of the number of black people resulted in Texas becoming a new slave state and joining the Confederacy in 1861.

The main role of black cowboys was to work on the ranches and watch over the cattle herds. They gained various skills from this and after the Civil War, being a cowboy became more of a formal job for men of colour rather than it being a method of slavery. This created a high demand for cowboys among the American ranch owners. Regardless of this demand, African Americans were still victims of oppression and discrimination, especially in towns surrounding Texas. They were even banned from accessing certain facilities like hotels and restaurants which were white-people based. However, on the side of their fellow black people, they gained considerable respect and admiration for their bravery, skill set, and compassion towards the other black cowboys that they came across.

One of the most prominent cowboys ever known was Bose Ikard who is portrayed by the fictional character, Josh Deets in a novel titled, “Lonesome Dove.” Bose was followed by his great reputation of obedience and great participation in engagements with Comanches. With the coming of the railroads for transportation, the lifestyle of cowboys became old-fashioned and began to fade out. African-Americans then began to migrate to new areas and towns in search of new employment.

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