Black Cowboys exhibit at African American Museum, Dallas


January 21, 2023 to April 15, 2023


African American Museum, Dallas at Fair Park View map
3536 Grand Ave.,
Dallas, TX, 75210

Additional Information


Shining light on the rich history of Black cowboys and their impact on Texas and American history, Black Cowboys: An American Story, organized by the Witte Museum in San Antonio, opens Jan. 22 at the African American Museum, Dallas.

With more than 50 artifacts, photographs, documents and films, the exhibition 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 in cattle drives before the Civil War through the turn of the 20th century.

By revealing stories that have largely been untold, Black Cowboys offers insight into the legendary cowboy, a clearer picture of the Black West, and a more diverse portrait of the American West. Organized into three sections, the exhibition begins with the work Black cowboys performed to tend cattle along the trails from 1865 to the 1890s and how they were integral to the Texas economy.

The exhibition progresses to explore Black ranching families and the ways enslaved and free Black cowboys developed ranches of their own after Emancipation. The third section spotlights popular performances by Black cowboys in rodeos, music and film.

Visitors will discover how Black cowboys tamed and trained horses, tended livestock and rode on the trail with thousands of cattle across America. Over time, the role of Black cowboys evolved as they used the skills they learned on the ranch and trail to own their own ranches, serve as lawmen, 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.

Central to the exhibition is a film about Hector Bazy, (pictured above) portrayed by distinguished actor and playwright Eugene Lee. 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. In the film, Lee speaks Bazy’s own words to describe his experiences.

Special activities:
The African American Museum, Dallas has planned an array of educational activities to complement the exhibition. A Black Cowboy Cinema will feature a series of Black Cowboy movies to be shown in the Museum theater accompanied by vintage concession fare (hot dogs, popcorn, etc.).

Other activities include a series of panel discussions with current-day Black cowboys and cowgirls (retired and active), a rodeo camp with a mechanical bull and chuck wagon, and a ranch-style buggy for rides around Fair Park. Also, a special presentation will be made focusing upon The Buffalo Soldiers.

The African American Museum, Dallas is open 11am–5pm Tuesdays–Fridays and 10am–5pm Saturdays. Free self-parking is available in nearby lots.

Top image: Hector Bazy, courtesy of Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution

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