Delta Hill Riders
Historians agree that just after the Civil War, one in four cowboys were African American. Yet this population was drastically underrepresented in popular accounts, and it is still. The “cowboy” identity retains a strong presence in many black communities.
This ongoing documentary project in the flatlands of the Mississippi Delta sheds light on an overlooked African American community of horse riders — one that resists historical and contemporary stereotypes.
The project began January 2017 when I attended a black heritage rodeo in Greenville, Mississippi. The body of work reveals how deep these traditions run in the rural Delta. I’ve been invited to black heritage rodeos, horse shows, trail rides, “Cowboy Nights” at black nightclubs, and to subjects’ homes across the region.
The work aims to press against old archetypes — who could and could not be a cowboy or cowgirl — while uplifting and diversifying this narrative.