Photographer John Ferguson, set out to chronicle the oft overlooked lives and culture of the black American cowboy in photos as a part of his documentary, The Forgotten Cowboy. Ferguson traveled through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and back down to Texas to film and photograph black cattlemen, professional male and female bull riders and cowboys working in local communities.
The Boot Hill posse, Jason Griffin(right) and his best pal Dennis Merrell, on their way to rounding up the stray horses and cattle on the ranch.
31 year old part-time bucking horse rodeo champion Jason Griffin photographed on his homestead in Dallas, Texas. Jason works with a local electricity company but is hoping one day to become professional rodeo rider and competing all over the States.
Champion Cowgirl Tiphony Carter.
Marvin Hayes working as a bullfighter, making sure that none of the contestant come to any harm whilst bull riding.
Marvin was photographed at Cowboys of colour rodeo in Mesquite, Texas.
Cowboys of Colour Finals
Ferguson states, “It is estimated that as many as a third of all cowboys contracted to drive cattle to markets across America were either black or Indian.”
Cowboys of Color NF rodeo finals in Louisiana
Chester who along with Clarence Holder, works various ranches in Waco Texas. Chester as been a professional cowboy for over thirty years, working as a freelance Cowboy, he works with a small team of professional cowboy’s work cattle and other livestock for ranch owners in Waco and the surrounding areas.
Tory from Oklahoma City is one of the best up and coming all round rodeo cowboys in the US.
Cowboys of Colour Rodeo Finals
“Many black cowboys from communities across the US were banned from competing at the main rodeos right until the late 1980’s,” stated Ferguson.
Cowboy foremanTim Cook working on the E4 cattle ranch in Houston, Mississippi. Tim is a professional cowboy, he and his small team of professional cowboys work the cattle and other livestock for ranch owners in and around the surrounding areas.
The Boot Hill possie, Jason Griffin(left) and others, on their way to rounded up the stray horses and cattle on the ranch.
Watch the Trailer for Ferguson’s upcoming documentary which documents the life of the black American cowboy.
The film seeks to address the “underrepresentation of black cowboys and cowgirls in the mass media, despite African-Americans accounting for roughly 25 percent of all cowboys throughout the profession’s history.”
“These are things that, if you don’t know, they go on unseen,” Kevin Woodson, a retired bullfighter and MC of the Cowboys of Colour Rodeo, said in our films trailer. “You’ll have black people that believe, ‘that’s odd for us to do.’ No it wasn’t.”
What do you think of the film? Are you familiar with black cowboy culture? Is it prevalent where you live?