When did you first learn that Black cowboys exist?
For actor and producer Idris Elba, it was Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” that made him aware of Black cowboys in America.
Lorraine Toussaint grew up during the era of Buck and The Preacher, a classic film starring Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, two Black men, which was set in the wild, wild West. But, alas, these were fictional characters.
And for rapper-turned-actor Cliff “Method Man” Smith, it was Posse (also a fictional movie), directed and starred by Mario Van Peebles, which opened his eyes to this space where Black cowboys reigned supreme.
But, Black cowboys aren’t just fabled characters, who we occasionally see depicted in media. Black cowboys are real, but this story of Black men riding horses, catching outlaws and victoriously riding into the sunset in the wild, wild west often isn’t told.
In North Philly, Black cowboys have been a part of the culture for over a century and still exist today—in fact, they operate the Fletcher Street Stables and are the subject of Netflix’s Concrete Cowboy.
The Ricky Staub-directed film is based on the novel “Ghetto Cowboy” by G. Neri and stars Idris Elba, Caleb Mclaughlin, Jharrel Jerome, Lorraine Toussaint, Cliff “Method Man” Smith and members of the Fletcher Street Stables.
Concrete Cowboy is available on Netflix Friday, April 2.