These Cowboys Construct a New Juneteenth Custom at a Rodeo in Portland


Ivan McClellan, a photographer, was captivated the primary time he got here throughout Black cowboy tradition at a rodeo in Oklahoma years in the past.

He noticed Black individuals donning cowboy hats and saddling horses, photos that impressed him to fully document that community in his work.

This 12 months, although, he needed to go a step additional. Mr. McClellan and Vince Jones-Dixon, a metropolis councilor in Gresham, Ore., sought to host a Juneteenth rodeo in Portland, one that might convey collectively the Black cowboy and cowgirl communities throughout the Pacific Northwest.

On Saturday, they unveiled the inaugural Eight Seconds Juneteenth Rodeo within the Portland Expo Heart, the place the Western way of life was showcased by means of barrel racing, bull using and glimmering, weighty buckles.

“You see the cowboy, and it’s a shorthand for independence and grit and all of these items about America,” mentioned Mr. McClellan, who’s Black. “However then you definitely mix it with Black tradition, and it simply wiggles your mind and disrupts issues that you simply thought had been true.”

Mr. McClellan and different attendees on Saturday remarked on how Black cowboys and cowgirls had been fusing their vogue with Western staples: gold chains peeking out from button-down plaid shirts; ladies with acrylic nails adjusting their dusty bluejeans; cowboy hats flat throughout the entrance, popped up over the perimeters.

“It’s taking the issues that we learn about Black tradition, and it’s taking the icon of the cowboy — John Wayne, Clint Eastwood — it’s taking that icon and disrupting it,” Mr. McClellan mentioned.

Jarron Owen, a bull rider from Centralia, Wash., who attended the rodeo, mentioned such occasions have not often been organized within the area.

“There’s such a small neighborhood of Black individuals who rodeo on the West Coast,” Mr. Owen mentioned. “To have a Black rodeo in Portland is large.”

Greater than 2,000 individuals attended, Mr. McClellan mentioned. They stomped and cheered as bull riders jostled and swayed, struggling to stay mounted on the animal.

Mr. McClellan mentioned they deliberate to make the rodeo a Juneteenth custom.

“The Western world was bone white after we got here in,” he mentioned. “We began to sprinkle in some Black of us into that world — and make some change.”


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