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Restoring Black Cowboys to the Range

Sarah Maslin Nir

The New York Times

2019, SEP 14

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.

[...] In 2017, the Studio Museum in Harlem exhibited “Black Cowboy,” featuring contemporary photographs of cowboys, including the smattering of those who currently ride the urban range. They are in places like Compton, Calif. and Philadelphia.

“It’s like the old saying that history is written by the victors. In this case the ‘victors’ were those in the society who enslaved and subjected blacks,” said Ron Tarver, a photographer whose pictures of Philadelphia’s urban cowboys were included in the Studio Museum show, and who hails from a long line of Oklahoma’s black cowboys.
Interest in correcting the record stands to grow, Mr. Tarver added. “I think younger African-Americans are looking for a broader definition of what it is to be black in this country.” In recent years, young black people have embraced a boots-and-Stetsons fashion movement called the Yeehaw Agenda. “Old Town Road,” a country song by a black musician, Lil Nas X, vaunting the cowboy lifestyle, has been atop the Billboard 100 this year.

Mr. Callies hopes that will draw people — and resources — to his little Rosenberg museum.

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