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May 10, 2024 25 mins

Vanessa Tyler takes a deep dive into the history of Black cowboy culture.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
As a cowboy. You know, I feel proud. I think
my kids feel proud to be cowboys, cowgirls, black.

Speaker 2 (00:05):
And proud cowboys style.

Speaker 3 (00:08):
I've been a cowboy home my life.

Speaker 4 (00:10):
I would say, as long as you have it in
your heart, you can be a cowboy.

Speaker 2 (00:14):
Black people, the OC's original cowboys.

Speaker 5 (00:17):
You should have seen the expression on his face. He said,
Oh my god, there really are black cowboys and cowgirls.

Speaker 2 (00:30):
The real history of black cowboys and cowgirls, black and
country cowboy culture right now on black Land.

Speaker 4 (00:37):
And now as a brown person who just feels so invisible.

Speaker 3 (00:42):
Where we're from, brothers and sisters, I welcome you to
this joyful day and we celebrate freedom where we are.

Speaker 6 (00:53):
I know someone's heard something.

Speaker 3 (00:55):
And where we're going.

Speaker 2 (00:56):
We the people means all the people. The Black Information
Network resents black Land with your host Vanessa Tyler. We're
down on the family farm with will black cowboys and
a cowgirl, the Hook's family, Dad, Marvin, son, Julian and
daughter Leonna. Hello, guys, hi.

Speaker 4 (01:17):
How you doing?

Speaker 2 (01:18):
All three live the cowboy lifestyle in Flemington, New Jersey,
where there is enough land for farming.

Speaker 1 (01:26):
We have goats, cows. We have these deckster cows. These
and miniature cows that you know, people are small, uh,
you know, farms find themselves going at this after these
types of you know animals. These are small you know
cows there, they're just a little maybe half the size
as a regular count. But they're you know, the meat

is good, the milk is good. They're just a good,
you know animal to have. And also the pigs, the chickens,
you have the fresh eggs if you want. And also
we grow with a little garden, so we grow things
you know that we need. We have fruit trees on
our property. We have Asian pear trees, black walnuts or
per simmons. So we have a pretty much a lot

of you know, variety of livestock and vegetation on the property.
It's just a way of living that we enjoy. We
enjoy working outside, we enjoy nature, we enjoy animals. All
those things come together hard work, of course, all those
things come together, and those are things that attracted us
to this type of lifestyle.

Speaker 2 (02:34):
Julian, you're twenty two years old. Being a cowboy. Is
that something that you wanted to do as a young man.
How does that fit into today's twenty two year olds?

Speaker 7 (02:47):
Well, I mean, I would say it's definitely a conversation piece.
Anybody ever asked me like how it is to live
on a farm, I can definitely always talk for hours
about it. When you ask, like if it's something like
that I wanted to do, I wouldn't say it's something
I've always dreamed of doing, but it definitely is something
that I enjoy and found a lot of like fulfillment

and enjoyment. And you can definitely learn a lot about
life working on a farm, tending to animals and learning
from them as well as you know, going within yourself
while you help the farm growth.

Speaker 2 (03:22):
Being a cowgirl right now, I gotta tell you it's
quite popular. Let's thank Beyonce for that, right. What do
you think of all this attention that cowgirls are now getting.

Speaker 4 (03:36):
I think it's fun. You know. After Beyonce dropped her album,
it made me kind of want to wear my cowboy hat,
you know, around a bit to kind of show that
I really am a cowgirl. And I think it's fun
and just to be able to embrace a different side
of me. It's it's nice.

Speaker 2 (03:54):
Yeah, you're twenty five. What does being a cowgirl mean?
I know your dad mentioned hard work. So what does
it really mean.

Speaker 4 (04:03):
Well, for me, I'd say it's more of taking care
of the animals. My dad and my brother are the
ones who really enjoy riding the horses, so I'm more
of a I'll give them snack, brush their hair out.
But for me, it's enjoying the outdoors. It's it's feeding
the animals, and it's just having fun.

Speaker 2 (04:25):
But this black family is living a double life because
about sixty one miles away Brooklyn, New York, is where
the family lives as well.

Speaker 1 (04:33):
So I'm an entrepreneur at heart. So I've always I'm
a young person. When I say young, probably like a
young teenager. I've always, you know, been attracted to business.
And so of course that's several businesses in my lifetime.
And we have a couple, like the family farm is
a business. Also have a we have a franchise, my

daughter and son and I we have a franchise. And
I also passed the church and yeah, so we do
quite a few things to kind of balance life out.

Speaker 2 (05:08):
Also the church, doctor Marvin Hook's pastors is in Brooklyn.
You can say he leads a flock literally and spiritually.

Speaker 1 (05:16):
I always hear people say, oh, you're doing too much.
But I don't feel I'm doing much. I feel like
I'm doing what I want to do. I think I'm
contributing in a huge way to my community, my communities,
my family as well. So I find the balance in
just doing what I think God gave me the ability
to do. And I'm multi, you know, I have a

lot of gifts and I can do a lot of things,
and you know, walking through gum at the same time,
and I feel that it's not overwhelming, not overburden. I
just find peace and the things I do in life.
So it's it works out.

Speaker 2 (05:53):
But this chosen life of discipline, hard work, old fashioned
values all under a ten gallon cowboy way hacked. You know,
people your age would be in a club or something.

Speaker 7 (06:04):
Right, and you know that is true. I mean I
try not to miss out on farm like the farm
lifestyle or like just I would say, quote unquote normal lifestyle.
You know, I don't let really the two things interfered.
And of course, like I bring like people from like

people I'm close with my friends to experience like the farm,
the farm life, and they always enjoy it.

Speaker 2 (06:30):
I think about young people, especially young men your age
in the violence.

Speaker 5 (06:35):
I mean obviously you already.

Speaker 2 (06:37):
Know would that change them if they lived that kind
of lifestyle.

Speaker 7 (06:44):
You know, I'm glad you asked that because I think
it really is a good release, you know for a
lot of the emotions that I mean young men feel
just being out in the fresh air, being being able
to to channel your physicality into something besides violence, into

into work, into training animals, into maybe something as even
as advances riding horses. It definitely, uh does create a
very important release that a lot of people don't have
access to. And I do think that, yes, I do
think that if people, if more people were introduced to

the farm life like I was, they definitely would there
definitely would be a decrease in violence.

Speaker 1 (07:30):
Yes, you know when people say us on our horses,
for example, even say they'll ask us, you know, who
owns those horses, and we always say, well, we own them.
We we don't these are our horses, because there's uh
the assumption that you know, we don't own horses or
can own them. But you know, owning, you know, your
own property, owning, you know, livestock. It's just it's just

a really liberating thing to do.

Speaker 2 (07:56):
When it's time to settle up and tell the real
history of cow boys. We can count on Larry Kallis.
The cowboy life is his passion and his mission to
make sure we know our history. Larry callus howdy and welcome.

Speaker 3 (08:12):
Howdy, Thank you for heaving.

Speaker 2 (08:15):
Larry Kallis owns the nation's only black cowboy museum. It's
located in Rosenberg, Texas, about half hour from Houston.

Speaker 3 (08:24):
Did you know blackson singing country music in eighteen fifties?

Speaker 5 (08:28):
I did not, what I'm skinned of me.

Speaker 3 (08:30):
You can look him up. His name's Charlotte Willis. He's
a singing cow from Texas.

Speaker 2 (08:36):
Callus has a voice condition. He used to be a
country singer. Says he had the same manager as popular
white country artist George Strait and shared the same band
with another country music star, Clint Black, but now with
his vocal dysfunction, Larry Callis says the idea of a
museum dedicated to black cowboys came from above.

Speaker 3 (08:58):
God asked me to open up a black cowboy museum.

Speaker 8 (09:03):
I didn't want to do it. I wanted to be
a country and petson singer, but I lose my boys
in God asked me to open up a Black Cowboy Museum.
I say, God, I can't even talk. Why do you
want me to open up book A Black Cowboy Museum?
He said, step out eating faith. That's when I stepped

in faith. I even wrote a book call here Comes
Larry Klus step out in faith and it's setting like hotcakes.

Speaker 2 (09:37):
His book, Here Comes Larry kallis stepping out in faith.
And for the record, cowboys were originally black men.

Speaker 9 (09:45):
A white man in eighteen hundreds would be called a
cowboy because they had a house, a yardan and it.

Speaker 3 (09:54):
Worked a cow.

Speaker 2 (09:55):
Then they changed it to houseboy, yard boy, and cowboy.
Kallus's uncle, uncle Willie born June nineteenth, nineteen nineteen in
El Campo, Texas, always gave wise advice.

Speaker 3 (10:09):
He said, you better not call the white man the cowboy.

Speaker 9 (10:14):
And back in eighteen hundreds, you had to be black
to be a cowboy.

Speaker 2 (10:20):
You longman on an outlaw.

Speaker 3 (10:23):
Been of both.

Speaker 5 (10:24):
I reckon.

Speaker 2 (10:26):
That's a clip from the TV mini series about Bass Reeves,
the first black US marshall known and feared in the
Upper Midwest Territory. He was a legend.

Speaker 3 (10:36):
They put him on a region. They said, I'm gonna
tell you to start. You you heard of the Lone Ranger. Yes,
Bass Reeves was a real bone.

Speaker 2 (10:46):
Ranger and he was black.

Speaker 5 (10:48):
He was black.

Speaker 3 (10:50):
He was wan a slate.

Speaker 9 (10:51):
In eighteen thirty eight, when he turned fifteen, he hit
it master.

Speaker 3 (10:56):
He knocked him out.

Speaker 9 (10:59):
He knew about sudden death, so he stole the master's
horse and he rode Oklahoma. He got in with the Indians.
They took him in for twenty years. In eighteen sixty five.

Speaker 6 (11:13):
And when the slaves were free, he went to Oklahoma
to be a US Russian. He went to the hand
judge Judge Parker. He said, I want to be a
US Marshal. Judge Parker said, you've got to know how
to read and write to be a US Marsian.

Speaker 3 (11:30):
He said, I can't do.

Speaker 10 (11:32):
Judge Parking knew that because it was the illegal to
teach a slave to read it right, So he said,
but I got a good memory. Judge Parker said, okay,
gon't get these five people. He named each one of them,
He told them where they live, He told him everything

about him.

Speaker 3 (11:54):
He remembered everything. He said, you.

Speaker 9 (11:58):
Have two months to get him, and you can bring
them back dead or lie. He didn't like to kill people,
so he caught all five. I mean he brought him
back alive. I mean three weeks.

Speaker 3 (12:15):
They made a us morch.

Speaker 2 (12:18):
The story of Cowboy turned to us Marshall. Boss Reeves
on the radio was riveting. He captured three thousand convicts.
Then it got out Boss Reeves was black, and the
white listeners lost it.

Speaker 9 (12:30):
Oh Lord, when they said it was a black man,
he had one hundred phone calls saying they wouldn't want
to listen to radio station. The man said why, he said,
because you said the long Ranger.

Speaker 3 (12:45):
Was a black man.

Speaker 11 (12:46):
He said, no, no, no, I didn't say it was
a black man. I say he wore a black mass.
So in nineteen fifty.

Speaker 3 (13:00):
Invented the TV.

Speaker 11 (13:02):
They wanted to put bash Reefs on the TV, but
they knew they wouldn't accept me, so they put a white.

Speaker 3 (13:10):
Bed with a black mask on the Lord.

Speaker 2 (13:21):
So when the Popular show was put on American television
from nineteen forty nine to nineteen fifty seven, the lone
Ranger had to be white. And when Hollywood took over, the.

Speaker 3 (13:34):
Hell are you doing it?

Speaker 7 (13:36):
I'm looking at a tin star with a.

Speaker 3 (13:39):
Drunk pin on it?

Speaker 2 (13:41):
In popular movies starring mega Hollywood made cowboy, John Wayne,
you didn't see black cowboys cut from the big screen,
almost cut out of history.

Speaker 3 (13:51):
We've been lied to one hundred years.

Speaker 2 (13:54):
That's where his Black Cowboys Museum comes in. There are
photos of real cowboys, a saddle from the eighteen hundreds,
a sword from a Buffalo soldier, that group of black
men hired by the US Army to battle the Indians,
with hair like a buffalo and the strength of a
buffalo too. Kalla says, like yesterday, many of today's cowboys

ride in rodeos.

Speaker 11 (14:17):
Here we go again, Bill Pink, Your rodeo has been
thrilling audiences for four decades with this action impact rodeo
evans honoring the traditional and arst cowboy culture.

Speaker 2 (14:28):
The Bill Picket Rodeo where black cowboys show up. They're riding, roping,
wrangling skills. Valeria Howard Cunningham is the heart and soul
of the Bill Picket Invitational Rodeo, also known as the
Greatest show on Dirt for decades.

Speaker 5 (14:48):
Well, the Bill Picket, as you know, is celebrating our
fortieth anniversary. So we operate with four and five generations
our boys and cowgirls that have been traveling with the
Bill Picket Invitational Robeo across the United States. Some of

our contestants, you know, I remember when they were in
their mother's stomach, you know, and they have grown up
with the Bill Picket and now they are competing. So
we have cowboys and cowgirls from all over the United
States that travel with us. We have members that join

the organization new each year, and then we have members
that have been with us for the whole time. What's
important to us as an organization is that we also
groom our young kids to have a safe place to

perform and learn and show case their skills as they
are developing to become champions. We have young kids as
young as three years old that compete in our rodeos,
and then we have some contestants that are as old
as in their sixties that compete.

Speaker 2 (16:20):
I'm just wondering what's common like there is there are
there common characteristics for people who are part of this organization.
Certainly it's family as generational as you said, but it's
more like a lifestyle. Would you be able to talk
and address that.

Speaker 5 (16:37):
Absolutely, it is a lifestyle. These cowboys and cowgirls, they're
passionate about what they do. They may have other jobs.
We have nurses, we have attorneys, we have corporate managers.
We have people that do a lot of different professional jobs.

But on the weekends they are rodeo ready. They own farms,
they have horses, they love animals, and they love rodeo,
so they are committed to it and this is part
of their life.

Speaker 2 (17:22):
The rodeo named after Bill Pickett, a rider like no other.
He had a signature style bulldogging his steer to submission.

Speaker 5 (17:30):
Bill Pickett whilst a cowboy back in the late eighteen hundreds.
He had a skill and he created a rodeo event
that's called steer wrestling or bulldogging. He is the one

who created that event. But nobody knows anything about Bill Pickett.
He was a ranch in he worked in Oklahoma, and
his brothers were very good at entertaining crowds. So Bill
Pickett starting some films back then.

Speaker 2 (18:14):
Instead of letting him ride off into the sunset, Her
late husband louveras On, helped keep his name alive with
a rodeo.

Speaker 5 (18:23):
Nobody talked about Bill Pickett and knew who Bill Pickett was.
Louva's son as he was studying about the Blacks and
the development of the West said, you know what, we
need to give Bill Pickett his due and his credit.
So he went and found the Picket family and got

permission from them to name the Rodeo Association after Bill Pickett.
So that's how Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo evolved.

Speaker 3 (18:58):
So one of the.

Speaker 5 (18:59):
Reasons my late husband decided to create this Rodeo Association
is he wanted to educate the communities about the blacks
in the development of the West and also to showcase
that there are thousands of black cowboys and cowgirls that

actually compete in rodeo. So what we have done is
brought all of that together, traveled around the United States
to thirty four different cities, educating people about blacks and.

Speaker 2 (19:41):
Rodeo and what an education to see them ride.

Speaker 5 (19:47):
We have a bareback and ranchbrock riding. We have tied
down roping, steer wrestling, ladies, bear racing, lady steering, decorating ladies,
breakaway and bull riding. And then we do not leave
our kids out, so we have the Junior bear Racing

Pee Wee bear Racing. We also have the Junior Breakaway
and it's important to us that we include our kids
and teach them skills while they are early so that
they can become the future champions in the rodeo world.

So we believe we have to tell our own history,
and that's what we do every time we rodeo. We
tell our history today of the past and current, because
there are so many black cowboys and cowgirls today that
are making history every day that they perform.

Speaker 2 (20:53):
Valeria Howard Cunningham believes her Pickett invitation of Rodeo would
be just what's needed to steer our kids from crime
and wrangle them in the right direction.

Speaker 5 (21:03):
We have a nonprofit organization and we believe we should
give back to every community that gives to us, so
we embrace our communities. We do different workshops in different
cities about anti violence, bringing young men in and talking

to them about different options that they have. We do
different workshops trying to introduce our young teenagers to what
agriculture is all about and the career opportunities that exists

within the USDA. So we are trying to embrace our
youth by educating them on different opportunities and different ways
to approach things. You know, a lot of people come
to our rodeos their parents either write or called and say,

we can't believe we just saw a five year old
competing or riding those big horses. How can we get
our kids involved in that? Are there a call and
say we don't like you very much right now, because
every since we left your rodeo, our kid has been saying,

I want a horse, I want to learn how to ride.
So what we do is try to connect those people
with local community organizations where their kids can learn how
to embrace the animals and learn how to ride.

Speaker 2 (22:51):
She says, to see the looks on the faces of
first timers, she still tells the story of a little
boy who touched her soul.

Speaker 5 (22:59):
You should have said the expression on his face. He said,
oh my god, there really are black cowboys and cowgirls.
And I happen to be standing there and tears just
came down my face. Because that's what it's all about,

teaching our communities that black cowboys and black cowgirls are real.
And we have been doing that for forty years.

Speaker 2 (23:34):
See the rodeo. It will be in Fort Worth, Texas,
May eighteenth, then back in June for June teenth, Oakland
and La in July, Georgia.

Speaker 5 (23:43):
In August, we identify our top ten winners from each
event and they are invited to our national finals in Washington, DC,
and that is on September the twenty first. That's where
we crown our twenty twenty four champions for the year.

Speaker 2 (24:07):
Valaria Howard Cunningham, thank you for joining us and see
you at the rodeo.

Speaker 5 (24:13):
Thank you, and I look forward to it and remember
we are the greatest show on dirt for the Hooks.

Speaker 2 (24:21):
Family, hard work, love of the land, faith and family
remain strong. It's in them. And when Julian who is
twenty two, and Leanna twenty five, start their own families,
they just might keep the cowboy culture.

Speaker 7 (24:35):
Well I'm not sure about that yet, but I'll definitely
start small, you know, build up, build up. If I
end up, you know, enjoying the lifestyle like for myself,
and I'll see where it goes. Like I said, I
do think living this type of lifestyle can create a
lot of good lessons, So I definitely I can definitely

see it.

Speaker 4 (24:58):
I feel like I agree with Julian and I'll probably
start small. One of the first animals we got was
a baby goat, and you'd be surprised at how intelligent
gotar and how much of a pin canny animal. They
are almost apparently to a dog, So I probably see
how my family feels about it, and if they're as
chashion it as you know, Julian and I are. I said,

I do it as well.

Speaker 5 (25:20):
Will you marry a cowboy?

Speaker 2 (25:21):
Will you find.

Speaker 4 (25:24):
Me men so well?

Speaker 2 (25:28):
The Hook's family. Yes, what a pleasure to meet all
of you. Happy trails, oh, happy, thank you. I'm Vanessa Tyler.
Be sure to like and subscribe to black Land on
the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts.
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