If you are anywhere near Houston, Texas you will know that the cowboys and cowgirls have blazed in from their trail ride and it is RODEO time! There will be three weeks of rodeo contests, world-class concerts, barbecue cook offs and rides on a Texas-sized Ferris wheel at the Rodeo Carnival. For eighty years, we Houstonians have enjoyed what has become one of the largest rodeos in the world – Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Visit http://www.hlsr.com and check it out.
Another important rodeo venue during the same period is the Black Professional Cowboys and Cowgirls Association’s Heritage Day Rodeo which benefits high school students with scholarships to attend a four-year accredited college. The BPCCA strive to present and preserve the image of the African-American cowboy and cowgirl who participated fully in settling the American West. Please visit http://www.bpcca.com to learn more about this organization.
Due to media depiction and partial teaching of American history in our schools, it is a little known fact that one-third of the American cowboys were African-American, one-third were Latin-American and one-third were Anglo-American. However, on the trail they were all the same as they worked together to face life and death perils to drive the cattle across the West to market. It was one of the first places in our history were racial barriers were willingly torn down.
This year was the first time that I attended the BPCCA rodeo even though this is their 14th year for this annual event. It was really inspiring to see so many African-American families there to support the rodeo. There were the familiar contests – steer wrestling, bull-riding, barrel racing – but there was one event that required unique bravery from the cowgirls. This event is unique to African-American rodeos and is called “Steer Un-decorating”. The cowgirls ride and chase a steer to remove the ribbon tied around it. Watching those cowgirls made me feel very inadequate as a native Texan because I don’t even own a pair of cowgirl boots!
Even though the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo offers a “Black Heritage Day” as a part of their venue, I hope that more persons discover the Black Professional Cowboys and Cowgirls Association’s Heritage Day Rodeo and will consider attending next year during our rodeo season. It is a great event.