'Black Cowboys Matter': Protesters gallop against George Floyd's death
In the 19th century, one in four cowboys was black. Now black riders are taking part in the protests with a clear message about racial violence and systemic…
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Early last week, some 30 cowboys galloped through the streets of Houston, Texas, leading some 60,000 people to peacefully protest the murder of George Floyd. Most of these riders belonged to the Nonstop Riders riding club that had grown up with Floyd.
Their T-shirts displayed the message "Black Cowboys Matter" and their faces and cheers expressed grief and anger over the unjust death of a dear friend as they rode through Floyd's hometown.
Lynn Price, one of the cowboys, was moved to see the crowd pet the horses and cheer.
"I understand all the anger in the community. It's a little different when you meet someone," she told ABC. "Almost 30 people on horses and nothing happened. People were rubbing them and greeting them and all that, it was a good energy, we just have to keep the vibration."
"We're here to show Floyd that we've come for him and we'll do it every day, whatever we have to do," Price added.
The cowboys led tens of thousands of protesters on foot from Discovery Green public park to City Hall, where one of Floyd's brothers, Terrence, spoke to the crowd:
"Never, never man, would I have thought we'd have this many people, man, for my brother. I love you all, man." He also begged them to protest peacefully, because violence only breeds more violence.
"Pay close attention to the smallest things. They expect you to behave inappropriately, like a fool," he warned them, noting that violent acts not only compromise the name of the perpetrator, but everyone. "We have children growing up. We're trying to break the [violent] cycle right now," he said.
According to the Daily Mail, the protest and rally in the city center was mostly peaceful with the exception of a few fights.
A few days earlier, Brianna Noble, an African-American horse trainer and instructor from Oakland, also rode her horse Dapper Dan in a protest. She had seen the video of what happened to George Floyd and wanted to use her riding skills to make a public statement at the rally, she told Vogue.
"I wanted to use a horse as a means to inspire change. There's nothing bigger than a horse, so I thought, I'll give the camera something else to look at. They're gonna turn that lens on me," she added.
Black cowboys are part of American history. According to the Smithsonian, in the 19th century, one in four cowboys were believed to be black, and many farmers depended on these skilled riders to control their livestock and also became rodeo stars, like the legendary Bill Pickett. However, Hollywood whitewashed the cowboys and reinforced the stereotype of the Marlboro cowboy. It's a story as old as the prejudices it's tied to.