“We’ve Been Here All Along, Doing It With Style”: The Lesser-Known History of the Black Cowboy

2020, JUN. 5

Christian Allaire

Vogue

On Tuesday, thousands of protesters marched downtown Houston, demanding justice for the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless other black Americans who have been victims of police brutality in the country.

How Black Cowboys Built the American West: A Living History

2020, JUN. 5

Francky Knapp

Messy Nessy Chic

You may hear it, before you see it. The gentle trotting of hooves backdropped by the sounds of New York City’s JFK Expressway. Even locals do a double take when they cross paths with a member of the Federation of Black Cowboys. When they ride, they tell the true story of the Wild, Wild West: that it was built by Black cowboys. In fact, an estimated one in three cowboys was a person of colour in the 19th century. It’s an often unsung legacy, and one that lives in big city Black cowboy clubs, working Black ranches, and luxury label-featured organisations and entertainers. But what did it really mean to be a cowboy in 1890? What about today? We spoke with Ron Tarver and John Ferguson, two photographers who have spent extensive time in Black cowboy communities – either growing up in them, or gravitating towards them from across the Atlantic – to document their story. Spur up, folks.

Restoring Black Cowboys to the Range

2019, SEP 14

Sarah Maslin Nir

The New York Times

At the Black Cowboy Museum in a storefront near Houston, one man celebrates the lives of African-Americans in the West’s most iconic role.

How Solange and Mitski Reconsider Who Can Be the Cowboy

2019, MAR 21

Michelle Kim

Pitchfork

As the “yeehaw agenda” takes hold online, two prominent women of color question the significance of the beloved American hero in their music.

'Black Cowboy' Exhibition Reveals a Forgotten Part of US History

2017, JAN 7

Antwaun Sargent

VICE

A new exhibition at The Studio Museum in Harlem challenges popular silver screen portrayals of the American cowboy.

A History Of Black Cowboys And The Myth That The West Was White

2017, JAN 24

Priscilla Frank

Huffington Post

An exhibition on view at The Studio Museum in Harlem hopes to retire the persistent myth equating cowboys with whiteness.

Black Cowboys Busting One of America's Defining Myths

2017, JAN 22

Emily Raboteau

The New Yorker

According to scholars, one in four cowboys working in Texas during the golden age of westward expansion was black; many others were Mexican, mestizo, or Native American—a far more diverse group than Hollywood stereotypes of the cowboy would suggest. Bass Reeves, a black lawman who had a Native American sidekick, is thought to have served as a model for the Lone Ranger. Britt Johnson, a black cowboy whose wife and children were captured by Comanches, in 1865, partly inspired John Ford’s classic film “The Searchers,” almost a century later. In the wake of the Civil War, the African-American Buffalo Soldiers were dispatched by Congress to protect Western settlers and federal land.

Why You’ve Never Heard about Black Cowboys

2017, FEB 9

Molly Gottschalk

Artsy

At age 15, Amanda Hunt, now associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, came across an unlikely figure in a Philadelphia park: a black cowboy.

The Black Cowboys Whitewashed from American History

2017, FEB 8

Julia Friedman

Hyperallergic

The photographs and videos in Black Cowboy at the Studio Museum show images of nonwhite cowboys, bringing Americana in line with historical accuracy.

Seeing the 'Invisible'

2011, FEB 25

Victoria Donohoe

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Ron Tarver, in his new photo series "Invisible" at Sande Webster Gallery, zeroes in on things in our everyday surroundings we might look at a lot, but don't necessarily see.

Photog’s work puts different spin on universe

2007, JULY 8

Christopher Yasiejko

The Wilmington News Journal

People tend to find something recognizable in the celestial. The signs of the zodiac are among the oldest examples. Images captured by the Hubble space telescope account for some of the most recent. We assign to the latter titles such as “Eye of God,” “Hourglass Nebula” and “Cat’s Eye Nebula” -- we describe what is difficult to grasp by using terms that bring the heavens down to Earth.

Capturing Havana’s Poetic Soul

2006, JAN 20

Phyllis A.S. Boros

The poetry of photography -- and the wonder it can evoke -- is what fascinates Ron Tarver, an award-winning lensman for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

See Havana in Southport in January

2006

Greenwich Citizen

Art/Place Gallery presents “Havana, A Place Out of Time,” a photographic journey by Ron Tarver, the gallery’s invited artist of 2006. The January show is the first time Art/Place has reached beyond Connecticut for their guest exhibit.

The Inquisitive Lens of Ron Tarver

2005, FEB

Maggie Bocella

Art Matters

The places and objects that inhabit Ron Tarver’s photographs “conjure more questions than they do answers,” as the artist himself has said of his own work.

Veteran’s tales moved Fort Gibson native

2004, SEP 30

Clifton Adcock

Muskogee Daily Phoenix

For Fort Gibson native Ron Tarver, each click of his camera’s shutter tells a story without a word being spoken.
Tarver, a photographer for the Philadelphia Inquirer for more than 20 years, is returning to Fort Gibson this week for an event honoring him and the book he brought to life with pictures -- “We Were There, Voices of African American Veterans, from World War II to the War in Iraq.”