S04 E32: A History of African American Cowboys with Larry Callies

There are many stories and historical accounts about American Cowboys. The history of African American cowboys rarely merits a mention in this much-storied and fabled history of the United States. One out of every 4 cowboys was black. Yet, these men never made it into canonized American popular culture.

Ranchers returning from the Civil War discovered their herds were either lost or nearly wild. They attempted to round up their cattle and rebuild their herds with slave labor (Texas didn’t liberate its enslaved people until years after the Emancipation Proclamation). However, in the end, ranchers were left without the free workers they were previously so dependent upon. Desperate for help rounding up maverick cattle, ranchers were compelled to hire newly freed, skilled, African-Americans as paid cowhands.

This episode covers their story, history, and contributions with a fourth-generation black cowboy, Larry Callies.

Larry also talks about Bass Reeves – the black man who was the real inspiration behind the TV character, The Lone Ranger.

Larry Callies is the Founder/CEO of The Black Cowboy Museum in Rosenberg, Texas. Larry was raised in El Campo, TX. He competed in calf-roping and team roping in local rodeo circuits and had a promising country-western singing career. While researching the history of the “black cowboy,” Larry Callies discovered two of his ancestors–Major James Kerr and Captain Isaac Newton, both Texans who had children by slaves they owned from which Larry is descended. Larry opened his museum to ensure the story of the United States’ Black cowboys would never be forgotten.

The Black Cowboy Museum (Rosenberg, Texas): http://www.blackcowboymuseum.org


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