The Black Cowboy

1173 Words5 Pages
Unique to the United States, the Old West wields a powerful influence on the American imagination that can still be seen in numerous aspects of the nation’s culture, such as clothing lines and movies. Unfortunately, as is the case with most other periods, historic acknowledgement of African Americans’ contributions to the West is still not complete. Only recently, within the last few decades, have American scholars and the film industry earnestly begun to correct this period in regards to African Americans. In 2005, the Idaho Black History Museum (IBHM) in Boise assembled a display that incorporated the black cowboy into it. The West has always held the promise of opportunity for countless Americans. While many African Americans struggled…show more content…
By the early twentieth century, black cowboys accounted for two percent of the total equestrian population in the West. In Idaho, where African Americans comprised about 0.2 percent of the total population, blacks made up 1.8 percent of the State’s cowboy population. Only recently have some of these individuals begun to receive the recognition they deserve. In 2008, Henry Harris, a deceased black buckaroo of Spanish tradition, found his way into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in Winnemucca, Nevada. For decades, he had gone relatively unnoticed by most Americans. Conceived in slavery and born in freedom, Harris had traveled west from Texas chasing the promise of a better life. Following John Sparks, the future governor of Nevada, in 1903, Harris found himself in the midst of a large cattle empire encompassing northeast Nevada and southern Idaho. Like most African Americans, Harris began his buckaroo experience branding cows and breaking horses; two undesirable jobs often relegated to black cowboys. As Harris showed greater skill and leadership, Sparks would later make him foreman over a crew of both black and white cowboys. The color of his skin had not restricted his opportunities as a buckaroo; most white cowboys treated Harris as an equal on the range. Off the range though, he was just another black man and became racially inferior once more. Though Harris had left some influence on Idaho and the West, he is far from the only black cowboy to have done so. Recently

More about The Black Cowboy

Open Document