Black rodeo has a rich history in the United States.
The sport of bulldogging is credited to one man, one cowboy. Willie M. “Bill” Pickett, an African American cowboy and Wild West show performer, invented what is now recognized as steer wrestling around the turn of the century. Eugene “Cowtown Gene” Walker was a legendary bull rider and bareback rider who headed out to Hollywood and starred as a wrangler in feature films. Tie-down roper Fred Whitfield currently stands at the top of many ranking boards and appearing year after year at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
In Dallas, however, the annual Texas Black Invitational Rodeo in historic Fair Park caps off a weekend of Juneteenth celebrations Texas-style. For its 29th annual event, more than 300 participating African American cowboys and cowgirls entertained the crowds with traditional rodeo competition, Pony Express relay races, trick lasso performances, and more. The rodeo, which offered the dirt kicking and eight-second countdown that audiences love, also worked to educate the crowd with rodeo history and facts between competitors, even mentioning Bill Pickett's role in inventing steer wrestling.
Presented by the African American Museum Dallas, the annual rodeo was just one of the events the museum hosted as part of Juneteenth Celebration Weekend.