The Only One Of Its Kind, The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo Bucks The Norm

person on horseback in a pasture
Via Unsplash The Only One Of Its Kind, The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo Bucks The Norm
Alyssa Guznik
March 22, 2023

The western films that rerun on classic television in the middle of the night often depict white men as the lone cowboys to exist in America’s past. The idea is, of course, completely inaccurate. For nearly 40 years, a rodeo has preserved the history of Black cowboys.

What started as a competition to highlight the skills and talents of Black cowboys and cowgirls has become a living, moving museum of Black western history and culture. But it wouldn’t even exist had Lu Vason not gone to a rodeo and witnessed a sea of whiteness. Where were we in this equation?

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association holds multi-thousand dollar competitions every year. Yet, the competitors are overwhelmingly white. Named after a legendary cowboy, stuntman, and actor, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo was created to showcase and pay us.

Traveling through over 33 cities yearly, the invite-only rodeo showcases the incredible skills of Black cowboys and cowgirls. It also highlights the contributions Black people have made to western culture.

Looping around the Americas the way that a lasso circles a bull’s head, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo has enshrined the rich and untold history of Black cowboys for almost 40 years. We have always existed and outshined the competition, even in saturated white places and when narratives say otherwise.

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