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Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo celebrates history of Black cowboys

Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo celebrates history of Black cowboys
Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo celebrates history of Black cowboys 02:01

FORT WORTH - Forty years ago the Bill Pickett Rodeo was founded as a way to highlight the rich history of Black Cowboys here in America, and what better place to celebrate that history during Black History Month, than in the city where the West began—Fort Worth.

"I've been rodeoing all my life," said Marcus Verser.

For cowboy Marcus Verser from Spencer, Oklahoma rodeo is a way of life. He was one of the competitors in the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo held at the Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth on Saturday night.

"The excitement the enjoyment and the crowd the money is cool but I just like it for the heart of it," said Verser. 

The Bill Pickett Rodeo is celebrating its' 40th anniversary this year. It got its' start back in 1984 as a way to educate the community about the rich history of Black Cowboys in America and their influence on the development of the West. 

"Back in the day one-in-four cowboys were Black but you don't know that because it's never been in the history books, it's never been on TV," said Valeria Cunningham the president and owner of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo. 

The Bill Pickett Rodeo also offers an opportunity for Black cowboys and cowgirls to show off their skills in everything from barrel racing to bull riding, in front of audiences from Memphis to Oakland to Fort Worth. 

"The camaraderie, the excitement from the audience, the skillset that these cowboys and cowgirls possess," said Owen Moore who came out to watch the rodeo with his family.

Cowboy Marcus Verser who competes in rodeos across the country, came in first place in the bronc riding competition, showing off his skills along with his rich cowboy culture. 

"It's us black cowboys all over some people say they ain't never seen a Black cowboy, you ain't never got out in the world before because they out here you just gotta get out here and find 'em," said Verser.

The Bill Pickett Rodeo will return to Fort Worth's Cowtown Coliseum for two shows on May 18.

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