Meet Compton Cowboy Riding To Honor Black Cowboys And Juneteenth
Hosley took a Greyhound bus to Texas. He turned pro at 19. In 2013, he was the Bill Pickett Rodeo Rookie of the Year. He won a bareback riding title and is a five-time California Tour Champion of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
All the while he said he enjoyed the trip so much – the broken hand and other injuries, the weeks without control, the disappointing efforts, the growth as a man, the fatherhood, the victories, the camaraderie, exposure – that race the dynamics of the sport has not been an obstacle. But he is aware of the emptiness of diversity.
“You don’t have a lot of black people interested in rodeos other than Bill Pickett,” he said. This is why the event broadcast on Juneteenth “is so big,” he said.
Denard Butler, one of the pro tour’s most respected cowboys, is a black steer wrestler from Atlanta who made a name for himself in the profession.
“It’s rare that I see people who look like me on the tour,” said Hosley. “When I do, it’s cool to see, especially when I see someone like Denard. He looks good, wins and represents himself well. They must respect it.
Butler said early in his career that he had endured racism constantly on the rodeo circuit and had fought in several bars to defend his honor along the way. “But nothing would scare me away, I love it so much. This is the life I chose, despite all that. Everything I ever wanted to do,” he said.
Black cowboys are steeped in cowboy history in America, and this will be highlighted on the Juneteenth show. Authors Phillip Durham and Everett L. Jones wrote in the 1965 book “The Negro Cowboys” that as many as 8,000 black men were cowboys in the 1800s. Bill Pickett, who invented “bulldogging,” a technique used in rodeos to wrestle and trap an ox, Nate Love, a sniper who has inspired many movie characters, and Ned Huddleston, a former rodeo clown turned outlaw, have been among the first and most famous black cowboys. At the time, after the Civil War, an estimated one in four cowboys was black, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
Recently, awareness of the black cowboy has gained momentum in black culture. Actor Idris Elba starred in the popular Netflix movie “Concrete Cowboy” about the Black Riders of downtown Philadelphia. Artists Solonge and Lil Nas X introduced the American Western style to their work.
Hosley, 6ft, 180lb, said he enjoyed the cowboy life – tending the horses, competing, the peace of life on the farm – and that his biggest worry had been to sort out his schedule, which he learned from Melissa Hijdik, the mother of a classmate he met at school bareback.
Upon graduation from school, Hosley was offered a rodeo scholarship to Wharton Junior College outside of Houston. But he had nowhere to live and couldn’t afford a hotel.
Hijdik offered his house.
“I got to know Tre and his story touched me,” she said. “He wanted it so badly. And his talent was incredible. I had the space and wanted to help. My friends thought I was crazy doing it. “You don’t know him,” they said. We had to work on some things. But we did. In the end, all I did was give her a place to live. He did the rest.
Hosley called Hijdik “my mom from Texas”.
“I didn’t go into the rodeo to try and make friends,” he says, “but I still made some really good ones. She and her family are like family.