Connect with us

Black History

Myrtis Dightman: The Jackie Robinson of Rodeo

Dightman never finished higher than third in the world standings despite his skills and showmanship. He retired in 1989 after a 30-year career. In 1997, he became the first living African American to be inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Published

on

Rodeo Sign Courtesy Jakob Owens Via Unsplash

Myrtis Dightman Jr.

Despite what television westerns and American lore demonstrate, 1 in 4 of the real-life trailblazing, sharpshooting, horseback-riding cowboys were Black.

While Texas ranchers went off to war, their slaves maintained the cattle herds. It was then that they learned to tend cattle, a skill that would make them invaluable in the post-Civil War era. The cowboy lifestyle would soon came into its own in Texas cattle country. It remains a way of life today, especially for Myrtis Dightman (1935–).

Born in Crockett, Texas, Dightman is an esteemed cowboy and a pioneer bull rider. His father, Myrtis Dightman Sr., was a Hall-of-Fame bull rider who broke the color barrier in 1964 when he became the first Black cowboy to compete in the National Finals Rodeo. Dightman Jr. was raised on a ranch and quit school at age 15 to work there full time, alongside his brother, after their father’s death.

Living the ranch lifestyle, cowboys and rodeos piqued Dightman’s interest at an early age. Yet he always found it odd that there were “so few Black cowboys competing in rodeos.” And that, he later said, was the main reason he “jumped into the rodeo arena.”

Dightman first participated in the Prairie View Trail Ride in 1957, which had been established that year to promote Black western heritage. From 1958 to 1960 he worked as a bullfighter. In 1960 he began as a bull rider, competing more than five times in the world championship bull-riding competition. In 1966 he became the first black cowboy to qualify for the Professional Rodeo Association National Finals.

As the competition years passed, he would come close to, but not touch, the championship title. This wasn’t because he wasn’t qualified, or  that the bulls’ their bucking was stronger than his ride. According to Dightman, “The championship title would disappear from my grasp each time a judge put the pencil to the paper.”

Years later Dightman would ask a fellow cowboy what it would take for him to win a world title. His friend offered: “Keep riding like you’ve been riding and turn white.”

Dightman would go on to qualify six more times, finishing third in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Standings in 1967 and 1968. He also won the Calgary Stampede in 1971. The following year, he won the bull-riding competition at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo and finished seventh in the world in the Professional Rodeo Association National Finals.

Dightman never finished higher than third in the world standings despite his skills and showmanship. He retired in 1989 after a 30-year career. In 1997, he became the first living African American to be inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Despite the covert racism Dightman endured during his years on the rodeo circuit, he never lost his inner drive. He made it possible for future Black cowboys to participate in national events, and win.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Black History

Freedom’s Journal: The First Voice of Black America

The four-column weekly publication was printed every Friday. Stories covered foreign and domestic news, editorials, births and deaths in the local black community, weddings, advertisements, and notices for retailers and companies that did not discriminate. Featured were articles on countries such as Haiti and Sierra Leone.

Published

on

Freedom’s Journal, Vol. 1 No. 1, March 16, 1827. Courtesy Library of Congress (sn83030455).

It was 1827, a time when white publishers didn’t run obituaries of African Americans. Politics, sports, money and social issues were reported from the perspectives of whites only.

That same year, John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish founded Freedom’s Journal in New York City. It was the first black-owned and -operated newspaper in the United States. The days of major papers snuffing out the voices of Black America were ending.

The four-column weekly publication was printed every Friday. Stories covered foreign and domestic news, editorials, births and deaths in the local black community, weddings, advertisements, and notices for retailers and companies that did not discriminate. Featured were articles on countries such as Haiti and Sierra Leone.

To encourage Black achievement, it printed biographies of renowned Black figures such as Paul Cuffee, Touissant L’Ouverture and Phyllis Wheatley.

Also included were editorials expressing contempt of slavery, racism and other injustices suffered by Blacks. At the same time, many white papers openly supported slavery and racially biased acts. Boston writer David Walker, an agent for the paper, penned “David Walker’s Appeal,” dubbed the most radical of all anti-slavery documents. In it, he called for slaves to rebel against their masters.

According to Nieman Reports, “Russwurm and Cornish placed great value on the need for reading and writing as keys to empowerment for the Black population and they hoped a Black newspaper would encourage literacy and intellectual development among African Americans.”

The publishers sought to broaden readers’ awareness of world events while acting as a beacon to strengthen ties among Black communities across the U.S. During the paper’s heyday, subscriptions were $3 per year and circulated in 11 states, the District of Columbia, Haiti, Europe and Canada.

In 1827, Cornish resigned from the publication, leaving Russwurm as the sole editor. Cited were differences regarding African-American colonization of Africa. According to Nieman Reports, “Russwurm had begun to promote the colonization movement led by the American Colonization Society, which wanted to free African-American slaves and offer them the opportunity of transport back to Africa.”

The newspaper’s position was unpopular with its readership. Subscriptions quickly declined. By March of 1829, the loss of circulation forced the paper to cease publication.

After the paper shut down, Russwurm emigrated to Liberia. It was the area established on Africa’s western coast to receive those recruited by the American Colonization Society. There, Russwurm became governor of Liberia’s Maryland Colony.

In 1829, Cornish re-entered the newspaper world with a goal to revive Freedom’s Journal, renaming it The Rights of All. But in less than a year, the paper failed. Freedom’s Journal had boasted a lifespan of two years. In spite of this short-lived history, its enormous impact on antebellum Black communities would live on as progress of the Black press continued.

Despite its troubles, Freedom’s Journal was instrumental in spawning other papers. Three decades later, more than 40 Black-owned newspapers were operating throughout the U.S. All 103 issues of Freedom’s Journal are available on the Wisconsin Historical Society website.

Continue Reading

Art

Maestro Michael Morgan Conducts San Francisco Symphony

Morgan was born and raised in Wash., D.C., and is recognized worldwide for innovative and thematically rich programs that make connections between a wide range of artists and musical cultures.

Published

on

Maestro Michael Morgan

Maestro Michael Morgan, music director and conductor of the Oakland Symphony, will conduct the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA, Friday, July 23, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

The program will include the overture to Gioachino Rossini’s opera “La gazza ladra,” along with a playful Pas de Six from “William Tell.” Louise Farrenc’s revelatory Symphony No. 3 from 1847 takes center stage, while the program concludes with James P. Johnson’s Roaring 20s hit, “Charleston.”

“I am thrilled to be helping the San Francisco Symphony share all the wonderful things they do with a wider and more diverse audience’, said Morgan.

Morgan’s ties to the San Francisco Symphony stretch back to 1994, when he first led Concerts for Kids performances.

Morgan was born and raised in Wash., D.C., and is recognized worldwide for innovative and thematically rich programs that make connections between a wide range of artists and musical cultures.

Continue Reading

African American News & Issues

Gwen Berry: “Activist Athlete” Tokyo Olympics 2021

Berry was formally reprimanded and put on 12-month probation by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 2019 for raising a fist after winning the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

Published

on

By

Gwen Berry, Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Gwen Berry is headed to Tokyo representing the United States at the 2021 Olympics in the hammer throw, a track and field event.

Berry, a two-time Olympian, was also in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  She was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1989 and is 32 years old.

On June 26, 2021, while qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team in Eugene Oregon, Berry was surprised to hear “The Star-Spangled Banner”, the U.S. National Anthem being played.

On the podium she turned away from the flag and draped her “Activist Athlete” tee-shirt over her head.

Berry said: “I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose. . .. I was pissed to be honest.”

Berry said she was told that the athletes would be on the podium before or after the playing of the national anthem.

“That’s what they’ve done the whole trials” Berry said.

Texas Republican politicians Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Dan Crenshaw called for Berry to be removed from the USA Olympic team as she was unpatriotic.

Caitlyn Jenner, an Olympic decathlon winner in 1976 and candidate for California governor on the September 14th Newsom recall election in a statement said Berry’s actions were “disgusting” and to “stay out of politics” and not use the Olympic stage “for your own political gain.”

Berry responded: “I say Caitlyn Jenner does not know how it feels to be a Black person in American who’s representing a country [that] has literally done nothing for Black people in America.  She needs to do her research and understand the history in America before she says anything like that.

Berry was formally reprimanded and put on 12-month probation by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 2019 for raising a fist after winning the gold medal at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

In June of 2020, the USOC supported peaceful protests and condemned “the systemic inequality that disproportionately impacts Black Americans.”

Berry tweeted “I want an apology letter. . . mailed . . . just like you and the IOC MAILED ME WHEN YOU PUT ME ON PROBATION. . . stop playing with me.”

Berry added to The Associated Press: “The anthem doesn’t speak for me.  It never has. . ..  I am here to represent those . . . who dies due to systemic racism.  That’s the important part.  That’s why I’m going.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “[p]art of that pride in our country means recognizing there are moments where we are, as a country, haven’t lived up to our highest ideals.  And it means respecting the rights of people granted to them in the Constitution to peacefully protest.”

The 2020 Summer Olympics delayed because of the pandemic will be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.

The New York Times, CNN, and Wikipedia were sources for this story.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending