Bill Pickett Invitational celebrates the black cowboy

Lu Vason started the event in 1984 to honor legacy of the thousands of African Americans who migrated west
Photograph by Forest McMullin

In 1977 Colorado music producer Lu Vason attended a Wyoming rodeo and noticed something was missing: black cowboys. Movies and history books, too, often ignore the thousands of African Americans who migrated west, such as Bill Pickett, a 19th-century rodeo star. To honor their legacy, Vason, who died earlier this year, started the traveling Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo in 1984. “Vason changed history,” says Ronni Davis-Frank, a rider who lives in Rockdale, “by helping us understand the roles black cowboys played in the West.”

On the calendar: On August 1-2, more than 50 riders compete in events like calf roping and barrel racing during the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo at the Georgia International Horse Park

This article originally appeared in our August 2015 issue.