A group of childhood friends wants to create a safer community and challenge the notion that African-Americans can’t be cowboys.
The Compton Cowboys, composed of 10 friends who have known one another since childhood, but officially came together as a group in 2017, are on a mission to combat negative stereotypes about African-Americans and the city of Compton through horseback riding.
Most of the Compton Cowboys were first encouraged to join the organization by friends or relatives who believed horse riding would offer an alternative to gangs and violence prevalent throughout the city.
“At the end of the day, we want people to also think about us when they think about cowboys"
“Not just a bunch of white guys in cowboy hats who smoke Marlboro cigarettes. We’re trying to be the guys who make it cool to wear Stetson hats and Wrangler jeans in the ’hood.”
“The Compton Cowboys are a multigenerational story of black people’s ability to survive and create alternate worlds in the face of neglect,”
Said Thabisile Griffin, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of California, Los Angeles, who believes that many of the conditions that exist in Compton today, both inside and outside of the horse stables, have been a response to the lack of opportunities available to African-Americans. “Folks were frustrated, but subcultures of resistance persevered.”
Today, the Compton Cowboys continue to compete in individual events and often are invited to perform in parades throughout Los Angeles. Despite limited resources, some members of the group continue to excel in polo and bull riding events as a result of the intimate bonds with horses that, members of the group believe, have also been relegated to the margins.