For Black History Month, we have compiled a short list of some of the titles available in the Talking Book Program collection on the topic of African American cowboys.
BLACK COWBOYS OF TEXAS (DBC 00028)
This history of Black cowboys in Texas draws largely on interviews done for the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration during the depths of the Great Depression. Because these interviews were with African Americans who had been working cowboys during the heyday of Texas ranching in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, their remembrances give us particularly personal views into past life on the range. Some violence and some strong language. 2005.
COMPTON COWBOYS: THE NEW GENERATION OF COWBOYS IN AMERICA’S URBAN HEARTLAND by Walter Thompson-Hernandez (DB 99817)
A journalist profiles a group of Black men and women in Compton, California, who are known as the Compton Cowboys and are part of a centuries-old tradition of Black cowboys. Also recounts the founding of the Compton Jr. Posse to connect youth with this legacy. Strong language and some violence. Commercial audiobook. 2020.
LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NAT LOVE by Nat Love (DBC 14750)
This rare autobiography of Black life in the American West provides the reader with a view of the frontier that differs considerably from the romantic version provided by Hollywood and the Western. Nat Love began life in slavery, spent 20 years as a cowboy, and later worked for the railroad. In 1907, he looked back on his life, especially the years on the range, fondly and with an eye for the telling detail. 1988.
LIFE AND LEGEND OF GEORGE MCJUNKIN: BLACK COWBOY by Franklin Folsom (DBC 02951)
A biography of the cowboy and former slave, whose skill with horses was renowned and whose curiosity led him to discover important archaeological relics. 1973.
GABRIEL’S STORY by David Anthony Durham (DB 54372)
A fifteen-year-old African American comes of age on the 1870s frontier. When his widowed mother remarries and takes him from Baltimore to Kansas, Gabriel broods over lost opportunities and resents the hard farm life. He runs off with a band of cowboys, but the journey turns desperate and dangerous. Violence and strong language. 2001.
PARADISE SKY by Joe R Lansdale (DB 82034)
Willie, an African American cowboy, flees his farm after his father is murdered. After a mentor teaches him a variety of skills, he makes a new life as a buffalo soldier, calling himself Nat Love. When his woman is attacked, however, he faces a final, deadly showdown. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2015.
WAGONTONGUE by Elmer Kelton (DBC 11954, LB 04567)
As a slave, Isaac Jefford went to war with his owner, Major Lytton, and saved the man’s life. As a free man in post-Civil War West Texas, Isaac became one of the major’s top ranch hands. When the major hires Pete Runyan, a bitter ex-Confederate, Isaac has to deal with Runyan’s hostility. Gunmen attack Pete and Isaac as they try to deliver the cash profit from the sale of the herd to the Fort Worth bank before a foreclosure deadline. The two cowboys must decide whether to fight alone–or to survive together.1972.
HOLT AND THE COWBOYS by Jim McCafferty (DBC 16891)
Recounts the experiences of the African American soldier who, after serving in the Civil War as a Confederate cavalry scout, traveled to Texas and became a cowboy. For grades 2-4. 1993.
LET ‘ER BUCK!: GEORGE FLETCHER, THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (DB 98386)
Explores the legacy of Black cowboy George Fletcher, who bonded with horses at an early age. When he unfairly lost the 1911 Pendleton Round-Up to a white man, the outraged audience declared Fletcher as People’s Champion and honor him to this day. For grades 3-6. 2019.