Highlighting the Black Cowboy

Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo Champion

Highlighting Black Cowboys and Cowgirls

Forgotten history takes center stage at MLK Rodeo

By James Kruger, Special to the Rocky • Photo by Dennis Schroeder / The Rocky

Somewhere between the history books and spaghetti Westerns, the diversity of the American West was squeezed out, leaving behind only the stereotypical John Wayne or Jesse James cowboy.

"One out of three cowboys were African-American," said La Wanna Larson, executive director of the Black American West Museum.

"Just that figure alone staggers people. People often say there's the 'reel' West and there's the 'real' West."

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Wade has rope, will travel

Maurice Wade
Maurice "Moe Betta" Wade, 59, of Denver, with his horse, Spice Girl, will compete tonight in the Martin Luther King African-American Heritage Rodeo of Champions at the Denver Coliseum.

Wade has rope, will travel
Calf-tying champ extends tradition of black cowboy

By Julie Hutchinson, Special to the Rocky January 21, 2008

Cowboys come a dime a dozen every January with the National Western Stock Show. But calf-tying champion Maurice "Moe Betta" Wade stands as one of a kind in the crowd of rootin' tootin' caballeros in town this month.

Wade is the only Denver resident among the 30-plus ropers, barrel racers, bulldoggers and mutton busters who qualified to compete for a purse punched up with $34,000 in prize money in tonight's Martin Luther King Jr. African-American Heritage Rodeo of Champions.

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Charlie Sampson

Career Highlights
World champion bull rider Charlie Sampson has been an outstanding role model and good will ambassador, entertaining audiences around the world with his unique brand of sportsmanship.

Project Highlights

  • PRCA Champion Bull Rider
  • Inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame
  • Pro Bull Riders Ring of Honor
  • Inducted into the Cowboys of Color Museum

Celebration of culture, diversity at heart of events honoring King 

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Charles Sampson, who in 1982 was the first black man to win the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bull-riding championship, knows special.

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