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Juneteenth Rodeo book cover

First published: 2024

Publisher: University of Texas Press

Length: 116 pages

Juneteenth Rodeo

Timeless photos offer a rare portrait of the jubilant, vibrant, vital, nearly hidden and now all-but-vanished world of small-town Black rodeos.

Long before Juneteenth was commemorated officially, saddles were cinched, buck­les shined and lassoes adjusted on the Black rodeo circuit in East Texas in honor of the holiday. In the late 1970s, as they had for generations, Black communities across the region held rodeos for the talented cow­boys and cowgirls who were segregated from the mainstream circuit. It was here that bestselling Texas writer Sarah Bird, then a young photojournalist, found her­self drawn. 

In Juneteenth Rodeo, Sarah’s lens captures everything—from the moment the pit master fired up his smoker, through the death-defying rides, to the last celebratory dance at a nearby honky-tonk. Essays by Sarah and sports historian Demetrius Pearson reclaim the crucial role of Black Americans in the Western U.S. and show modern rodeo riders as descendants in a more than 200-year lineage of Black cowboys. Juneteenth Rodeo ulti­mately seeks to put Black cowboys and cowgirls where they belong: in the center of the frame.


Sarah Bird's books stacked

Juneteenth Rodeo

“These photos are incredible. The work is stunning.”

Mark Seliger, photographer, The City That Finally Sleeps

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