New exhibition transports visitors through time to meet real Black cowboys and gain a greater appreciation of their deep impact on American history.
“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 are powerful,” said Marise McDermott, president and CEO of the Witte Museum, which organized the exhibition. “The Witte Museum was 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, which reveals what life was like for Black cowboys during this time.”
Museum 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, 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.
“Black cowboys were integral to the growth of Texas’ cattle industry immediately after the Civil War,” shared Ron Davis, Witte Curator of American History, who co-curated the exhibition alongside Texas History Curator Bruce Shackelford. “In fact, one in four cowboys that went up the trails was a Black cowboy.”
Black Cowboys: An American Story will run January 20, 2023 through April 13, 2024 in Innovations East gallery. At the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Black Cowboys: An American Story is supported by the Fund to Advance Racial Equity at North Texas Community Foundation and Principal. The exhibit is included with general admission or museum membership. Tickets can be reserved at http://www.fwmuseum.org/.
Exhibition Organization & Sponsors
“Black Cowboys: An American Story” is organized by the Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas and generously supported by Bank of America, the Ed Rachal Foundation, John L. Santikos Charitable Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation and H-E-B.
About North Texas Communities Foundation
North Texas Community Foundation drives meaningful change through charitable investment. The Foundation helps donors meet the needs of our community by providing tax-efficient strategies to support the causes they care about most. At the core of everything we do is a network of generous individuals, families and businessses intent on shaping the future of North Texas for good, forever. Learn more at northtexascf.org.
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, a distinguished institution established in 1941, is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and proudly holds Affiliate status with the Smithsonian Institute. Anchored by a diverse and enriching collection spanning science and history, the museum is committed to lifelong learning. Engaging visitors through vibrant programs and exhibits, it interprets the rich tapestry of Texas and the Southwest. The museum’s commitment to education is reflected in its innovative programs, designed to inspire and educate learners of all ages. From interactive workshops to immersive exhibits, the museum provides a dynamic environment for curiosity and intellectual growth. For more information about educational programs, exhibits, and events, visit www.fwmuseum.org.