© 2021 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture

The History Of Black Cowboys On The Western Frontier

courtesy of Erwin C. Smith Collection
Texas State Historical Association
Black Cowboys preparing for a horse race at the Negro State Fair, Bonham, Texas c. 1913

Nat Love was born a slave, but died a free cowboy and a legend of the Old West. After the Civil War freed Love from slavery, he walked to Dodge City, Kansas, and got a job breaking horses - after he could prove that he could rope a bucking horse, climb on its back without a saddle, and ride him without falling off. He got the job. Thus began Nat's life as a cowboy.

We don't typically include Black cowboys as part of the American story of the West,  even though one in four American cowboys are Black. Black cowboys are as American as baseball. 


  • Zaron Burnett III is an investigative reporter and longform feature writer for MEL Magazine. He’s the host and creator of the iHeartRadio podcast “Black Cowboys” (@zaron3) 
  • Patricia Kelly is U.S. Marine Corp Vietnam-era veteran, an African-American cowgirl, and the founder of Ebony Horsewomen. She was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in 2015. (@ebonyhorsewomen)

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter

Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show

Related Content