Legacy of the Black Cowboy

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

20110924029

20110924029

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy. Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience. Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

20110924779

20110924779

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy. Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience. Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

20110924739

20110924739

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy. Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience. Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

20110924540

20110924540

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy. Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience. Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

20110924486

20110924486

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy. Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience. Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

20110924828

20110924828

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy. Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience. Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Bill Pickett Rodeo

Bill Pickett Rodeo

For 25 years the Bill Pickett Rodeo has traveled across the country telling the story of the African American cowboy...Since its inaugural event in Denver’s Adam’s County Arena back in 1984 the Bill Pickett Rodeo has introduced hundreds of thousands of youngsters to the African American rodeo experience...Named after the legendary Black rodeo pioneer, Bill Pickett was credited with creating the ‘dogging’ techniques used by today’s cowboys.

Legacy of the Black Cowboy

Photography by Pete Marovich

The nation’s only touring African American rodeo, the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo has brought bulldogging, roping, bareback bronco riding, bull riding, barrel racing and other events to cities across the nation for 27 years.

The rodeo is named for Bill Pickett, who was born to a former slave in Taylor, Texas, in 1870. Pickett quit school in the fifth grade and worked as a ranch hand before touring the nation as a Wild West performer. Pickett invented bulldogging, a rodeo event during which a horse-mounted cowboy chases down a steer, leaps from his horse and wrestles the steer to the ground, all in a matter of seconds.

One of the goals of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is to raise awareness of the role that black people played in the development of the West. The rodeo’s promoter and producer, Lu Vanson, created the rodeo in the 1980s after visiting the Black American West Museum in Denver.

 

“I’m trying to promote the culture of the black West,” Vanson said on his Website. “A lot of people can’t relate to the pyramids in Africa. I believe a lot of us can better relate to the black Americans who were part of developing this country.”

For Darin Coleman, 46, a Fort Washington, Md., resident, the fact that the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is an all-black rodeo makes it special. “It means a little more because a lot of black children don’t think there’s black cowboys,” Coleman said as he prepared to participate in the rodeo’s grand entry and compete in the relay race. “You look at a western, you may see Sidney Poitier or Danny Glover, that’s it.”

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