Jesse Stahl, A Black Cowboy Legend

Black cowboys
Shonda Buchanan
October 7, 2020

It was a sweltering day. Jesse Stahl climbed on the bronco with over 4,000 spectators cheering him on. Would today be the day his luck was going to change?

The crowd jumped out of their seats as his bronco lit out, twisting like an angry tornado to throw him off. He gripped the reins, locking his knees against the slippery saddle. He was CLEARLY the best rider.

But the all-white judges panels rarely saw it that way.

When he finished he perched on the fence, his heart pounding. Uneasily, he waited.

Stahl had been born in Tennessee, and moved to California for the rodeo circuit. Would the judges be more fair out West?

He’d ridden before he could walk, breaking wild horses and wrangling bulls better than anybody. Black cowboys across the country looked up to him. He was even friends with the legendary Bill Pickett!

Stahl rode his heart out – but they gave him second place! What he did in response, though, made him a legend.

Stahl hopped on the angriest bronco and defiantly rode it BACKWARDS while carrying a suitcase! No one could deny he was the best, and whether the white judges panel acknowledged it or not didn’t matter.

We won’t always get the props we deserve from white society – but like Stahl, if we know our worth and keep our self-respect, that’s all that matters.

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