Classroom Connections: The Black Cowboy Experience

By Amber Certain, Educators and Schools Outreach Specialist
July 11, 2022
a Black man riding a horse in a field
Josh Taylor, foreman of the Knowlton Plantation, Perthshire, Mississippi Delta, Mississippi. While enslaved, many Blacks gained skills useful for jobs in the cattle industry after the Civil War.

Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, 1939. NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 1260030

Black cowboys played an integral role in the expansion and development of the American West but are rarely credited. Even today, many people don't know that the Black Cowboy community is alive and thriving in its own way. 

These books and resources will help students learn about the history of Black Cowboys, slavery, freed Black men and their lives thereafter, and westward expansion as well as explore contemporary Black cowboys in the streets of Compton, California, Philadelphia, and performing at rodeos throughout the country.

man riding a bucking bull at a rodeo as young Black children and parents look on
Randall's Island's First Rodeo; man riding a bull.

Photo by Austin Hansen. NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 58300984

Summaries provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources. Click through to each book’s title for more.