Who Wears the Boots?

With students out of school for spring break this week, many families are heading to the Houston Rodeo. There's a lot to see and do for people of all ages. Bill Stamps has a report on something you may not see very often.
Stephon Kendrick is a rare breed.

"I can't wait to get a new pair of boots and a new belt buckle, you know, every year."

It's not just the boots. Stephon is wearing a cowboy hat and vest as well. So why is that rare? Because Stephon is black. And you just don't see many black cowboys at the rodeo or in public.

"If you go in the country, you'll see more, but we're in the city. There's a lot in Houston and Arkansas, which is where I'm from."

Sherman Davis was wandering the rodeo wearing jeans, boots and cowboy hat. He's also black and says he's been doing it since he was little boy.

"I grew up into it. My dad and all raised me into it. They all rope and the whole family is kind of cowboys and cowgirls."


It's not that you don't see blacks at the rodeo. It's just rare to see any of them dressed in what you'd call western or cowboy attire. Nevertheless, Denise Williams says there are plenty of black cowboys out there.

"We have a lot of local black cowboy associations.  For one we have the Bill Picket Cowboys that's strictly black cowboys only. The RCA that's majority black. And Saltgrass which is majority black. And there are a lot of local Houston rodeo's where you'll find black cowboys."

She also says one obstacle might be the cost.

"It's still expensive and it takes a lot of money to be able to maintain the animals and the upkeep of the vehicles and the horse trailers. It's just expensive."


Stephon Kendrick, who said he likes getting new boots and buckles every year, knows he sticks out among blacks, but doesn't mind it one bit.

"If you were raised around it and you grew up with it, it's just natural. You do it year-around no matter if it's rodeo season or whatever. I mean, if it's in your blood, it's in your blood. You're proud of it and you wear it and you love it."

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.