Black Cowboys: An American Story Opens At Witte Museum Nov. 6

Did you know that one of four cowboys who went on the trail was Black? Black Cowboys: An American Story, opens November 6
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Photo: Whitte Museum

(SAN ANTONIO, TX) – Did you know that one of four cowboys who went on the trail was Black? Black Cowboys: An American Story, opens November 6, 2021 at the Witte Museum explores the lives and work of the numerous Black men, women and children – enslaved and free – who labored on the ranches of Texas and participated on cattle drives before the Civil War through the turn of the twentieth century.

This powerful exhibition will feature artifacts, photographs and documents depicting the work and skills of Black cowboys. Black Cowboys: An American Story will offer insight into legendary cowboys, a clearer picture of the Black West, and a more diverse portrait of the American West.

“The Witte Museum is privileged to work closely with an outstanding Steering Committee and Advisors, including community leaders, scholars, and Black cowboys and ranchers to create this unparalleled exhibition,” said Marise McDermott, President and CEO. “Most powerful are the individual stories of Black Cowboys, illustrating courage in the face of discrimination, skill despite great odds, and success through generations as ranchers and leaders in their field.”

Visitors will be transported through time to meet a variety of real Black cowboys and appreciate their deep impact on American History. Guests will discover how they tamed and trained horses, tended livestock and rode on the trail with thousands of cattle across America.

Hector Bazy, portrayed by distinguished actor and playwright Eugene Lee, will provide a first-hand account of his experience. Born enslaved on a plantation in Grimes County, Texas in 1851, Bazy wrote an autobiography in 1910, describing the exhilarating and dangerous work of cowboy life.

The role of Black cowboys evolved over the 20th century as Black cowboys used the skills they learned on the ranch and trail to own their own ranches, serve as lawman, ride in rodeos, become singers and perform in movies. Today, the lives and legacies of Black cowboys have inspired new generations to explore the past through music, film, fashion and design.

“For generations, these stories have remained dormant. Now, with the help of this exhibition, they are coming alive. We are enlightened and inspired by what we are learning about Black Cowboys,” said Aaronetta Pierce, Chair of the Steering Committee for Black Cowboys: An American Story. “It has been my joy and privilege to Chair the Steering Committee for this groundbreaking exhibition.”

Ron Davis, PhD Candidate of the University of Texas, co-curated the exhibition alongside the Witte Texas History Curator Bruce Shackelford.

“With the debut of Black Cowboys: An American Story, the Witte is shining a long overdue spotlight on the influence and heritage of a unique group of trailblazing Americans. Bank of America has a deep commitment to supporting and sustaining the arts, and this breathtaking visual history is an important part of the story of Texas,” said Ventura Perez, Bank of America San Antonio president.

Black Cowboys: An American Story will run November 6, 2021 through April of 2022 in the Russell Hill Rogers Texas Art gallery, McCombs Rotunda and the Laura and Sam gallery and is included with museum admission.

Black Cowboys: An American Story is presented by Bank of America and generously supported by the Ed Rachal Foundation, John L. Santikos Charitable Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation and H-E-B.

About the Witte Museum

Founded in 1926, the Witte Museum is where Science, Nature and Culture Meet. Located on the banks of the San Antonio River in Brackenridge Park, the Witte Museum is San Antonio’s premier museum, inspiring people to shape the future of Texas through transformative and relevant experiences in nature, science and culture.

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