Reflections of a Black Cowboy

By - Dr. Robert H. Miller On Feb 07, 2013

Reflections of a Black Cowboy



Welcome to my Blog page. Reflections of a Black Cowboy; Stories from the Forgotten West, is an award winning children’s books series to empower young African American and non-African American children about the legacy of black people in the American West.  For those of you who are not that familiar with early American history, especially the opening of the western frontier , this information will shed light on the many contributions African Americans made in developing the cattle industry while sustaining those wonderful campfire stories of heroes on horseback, the black cowboys.

        My motivation to write about African American cowboys is nurtured by the folklore of the American west and those gallant men on horseback, the cowboys.  Growing up in the Portland Oregon during the early years of television, most of the entertainment programming centered on action and adventure themes.  Making the transition to westerns to fill this need was no mystery.  Hollywood in those days had used westerns to tell the American story so often the television industry just jumped on the bandwagon. White actors , i.e., Burt Lancaster, John Wayne, Kurt Douglas, Gary Cooper, Hop-Along Cassidy where just a few of the stars who set the stage for what the hero on horse back would look like and how he would act.  The African American male was no where to be found in Hollywood or on television acting like a hero, he was casted as the fool,or a scared child.

         Television has a peculiar way of spinning fallacies into realities.   The absences of African American cowboys on television lead me to believe as a young boy, black cowboys never existed; somehow the American west just skipped right over us.  This notion persisted until at the tender age of ten, my mother told me about my great uncles Ed and Joe Cloud.  She said, as young men, they worked as ranch hands, cowboys in parts of San Antonio, Texas and Mexico.  From her stories my uncles were not like the  black characters I later saw on the silver screen; they didn’t run from danger, most times they were in the middle of it.  Once I discovered my ancestors were cowboys and part of the fabric of the American west, watching westerns, whether in a Movie Theater or on television, the experience was different; now I was connected to American folklore and those gallant men on horseback.  Little did I know then, I‘d carry my passion for the black cowboy into my adult life, and above all things, write children’s books about black frontier men and women ,i.e., Nat Love, Mary Fields, Bill Pickett, Cherokee Bill,  the Buffalo Soldiers, Jim Beckworth and Jean Baptiste Du Sable. (You can order the series  at

         When my children’s book series, Reflections of a Black Cowboy was published in 1990, it hit a nerve in the African American imagination that hadn’t been touched in sometime.  The series to this day continues to answer questions about the black western experience; it names the players and tells their stories in a narrative that is spellbinding.   For young children who want to be cowboys and adults who just want to pretend, pick up this series, put on your boots and saddle up, your fantasy is real; for once upon a time in the west, rode gallant black men and women, heroes on horseback, known as the cowboys.

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