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John Roleke

The Federation of Black Cowboys in Howard Beach, Queens

By August 15, 2005

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Howard Beach has gotten a lot of negative press. Here's a positive bit, one sure to surprise. Howard Beach is a home on the range, a home to the Federation of Black Cowboys. That's right -- cowboys in Howard Beach.

The Federation of Black Cowboys rides in many New York parades, teaches horsemanship to youths from East New York (right over the Brooklyn border), and keeps alive the legacy of America's first black cowboys. Their ranch and headquarters at South Conduit Avenue was built in 1994 by its 50 members and it's where they practice riding and rope tricks and hold their "Rodeo Showdeo."

One summer with the Federation of Black Cowboys is the subject of a documentary by Greenhouse Pictures airing August 19, 2005, at 10 p.m. and August 23 at 4:30 p.m. on PBS, Channel 13.

Comments

April 23, 2006 at 7:51 am
(1) Mike Peters says:

I’m open to all groups forming for whatever purpose they see as important (this IS America, afterall) but with the continual race problems this country faces, I’m wondering what progress is being made toward ending the race problems by having a group with such an obvious bias toward Blacks…are Whites allowed to join the Black Cowboy Federation? Can Whites form their own White Cowboy Federation and have it be recognized and accepted? I’d be just as disgusted with Whites if they did such a horrible thing as I am about Blacks doing it. It’s hameful to have formed such a Federation which certainly doesn’t do anything to reduce racism in this country. (Black Music Awards, Black Miss America, Black Mayoral Caucus…these groups ought to be ashamed of themselves, not proud). Some Whites are racist, obviously I’ll agree, but Blacks ought not complain about that anymore if they’re going to continue to form groups that so obviously exclude Whites. (I’d welcome a reply to my email address “mnp1965@yahoo.com”)

May 4, 2006 at 6:14 pm
(2) Jackie Care says:

In regard to your letter about the Federation of Black Cowboys: While I understand your point and may have agreed at one time, I have a different opinion. After recently spending some time at Cedar Lane Stables learning about their federation and the history of black cowboys, I now feel that they wish to set themselves apart because their black history is quite different then that of other cowboys. I cannot speak for other organizations that wish to promote themselves first and foremost as a racial/ethnic group. I feel that there is a fine line between wanting to be racially specific and what motivates it. In this case my opinion is that the cowboys are acknowledging their unique history which cannot be noted without mention of a significant factor, that factor being their race.

May 4, 2006 at 8:02 pm
(3) queens says:

Well said, Jackie. I believe that being for one group doesn’t mean that you’re against another. That type of logic is flawed.

The Federation of Black Cowboys is a worthy organization, celebrating history and doing good in the community.

September 20, 2006 at 11:51 am
(4) Flaster says:

Please give me some information. I am a NYC teacher I wouldlike to talk to the members of this fine orgnization.

September 21, 2006 at 8:51 am
(5) queens says:
September 25, 2006 at 5:13 pm
(6) Jackie Care says:

My suggestion to you would be to try and contact them by phone or take a little walking tour and visit them in person. They were difficult to reach.

May 5, 2008 at 9:06 pm
(7) Spirit says:

For those who feel “Blacks” are being racist when they form their own organizations…”Black Miss America” “Black Caucus” and so on.
Remember this (or read history) the reason we did this and do this is because we have been over looked, incrediby: 40 Acres and a Mule, All of the wars fought in Amerikkka, The Media (run by old white men), Education (see current schools in Black Communties…)Shawn Bell, shall I go on.
I hear people say, “I did not have anything to do with Slavery” or “I don’t see color” meanwhile they’ve benefitted from slavery, indirectly, their whole lives(see “White” communities and business. Look into affluent restaurants anywhere).
Learn history. Not His- Story. Study ALL of it and try to understand…try.

July 8, 2008 at 9:24 pm
(8) narokee says:

I fid it amazing that when other ethnic groups form clubs, and organizations that is geared for them, no one make a fuss. Certain Jews have many groups that are strictly for them. Not to mention that they promote the knowledge of their history and suffering. Is there a year when we never hear about the holocaust or the plit of the Jews. However when Blacks do the same the say they are radical. Funny things have not change.

August 11, 2008 at 11:14 pm
(9) Vonnie says:

Thay should learn how to take care of their horse, if they truly want to be called “cowboys” the care given to those poor horses is a disgrace to the old west and REAL COWBOYS, being white or black!!!!

October 7, 2008 at 12:56 pm
(10) chris says:

Reading these comments I have to say that organizations that that exclude themselves from others because of culture or religion should be acceptable in this country. The only thing is, that they should keep themselves open to “outsiders” who want to learn about or celeberate the different religion or culture. But to keep an organization alive that is alive simply to segregate themselves from others is unnacceptable. And as for what spirit says above, she really should open up a book and realize that black people were not the only people in this country to be discriminated against. I am the son of an italian immigrant, and the italians as well as the irish,and I’m sure other groups as well, have been dicriminated against a great deal. They had to sacrifice most of their cultures to become American, with Americanization programs in schools to rid these people of their thousands of years of culture. The only difference between them and black people is what they accomplished in spite of adversity. So when you see a beautiful “white neighborhood” ask yourself one question: How did these ethnic groups, who lived in the same slums and tenements as the black people of the past, manage to succeed when when no one gave then any help? The idea of “diversity” is the stupidest thing ever preached in the world because differsity breads racism by showing each group how the other is different. If we stop celebrating differences and celebrate similarities then maybe we can all realize that we are all Americans on the same side. Because when we leave this country and go to another when they see us whether we are black or white they will still see us as Americans. And spirit when you are feeling opressed take a look at Africa today and the US today and tell me where you would rather be. Albeit an indirect effect, slavery for you and black people alive today has had a possitive effect on your life.

October 10, 2008 at 5:17 pm
(11) J says:

In regards to chris’s comments,understand forced into slavery/slave codes/slaves laws are very different from just discrimination.”I dont like you” Two totally different theologies.okay nobody forced italians to come here against their will. You came here willingly and were discriminated against. the fact that you had to ditch all your culture to be an american is your problem. many afrikans in america today did so because they were forced and now are going back to their original traditions,and some dont consider themselves american,because of being forced here.We celebrate Kwanza if afrikan americans are in their right mind,we are not the same,we dont celebrate chris columbus why would we?some of us stop celebrating thanksgiving why would we,etc..italians did not have Jim Crow laws imposed on them they did not have slave code laws implimented,so when you try and match your struggles with afrkians struggle you sound like a fool,no comparison you must not have any clue.Afrikans experience in this country is still like no other and stop trying to compare.Regardless of being italian your still caucasion you will get in any door before a black person cmon get real!!!If caucasions never came to afrika,afrika would be alot better than it is now. What do you think happens to a country when they take the strongest people who built they country out. you take them to another country to build that and leave your country destitute.You can never say living in america is better than afrika,thats why british move in southafrika every yr and steal resources all over afrika,they settle down and have the nerve to call themselves afrikanners fake european trying to steal someone elses culture and land and say its theres,same thing italians did in Ethiopia so stop your foolishness.Jews got their 40 acres,everyone else too. We can have a Black Cowboy federation if we want cut the nonsense out, you have the same slave owner mentality when you see black folks doing something for themselves now you have a problem,we did things ourselves yrs before you people even came into our country. Euro wouldnt be anything without afrika because thats where you get most of your resources etc.You need to be glad you live the way you live off the sweat of our backs,euro never worked hard for nothing let me see generations of your family work for free them tell me about working hard. man your full of it.And we are not on the same side,but so what we are not .Their is still a level of respect you need to have for other cultures.And as many black cowboys their were yrs ago and hollywood try to depict some of these cowboys as white is foolishness as well. you need to read Black Indians, many cowboys down in Texas,that hollywood depicted as white.Stop the nonsense.Many blacks will be going back to Afrika to leave euros in this stale country.Your type of thinking is why wall street is sinking .Slave money>morgan stanly>goldmans sachs 360 degress >back down the tube. Wake up smell the coffee, buddy.

June 8, 2009 at 9:14 pm
(12) imani says:

i need to know their e-mail adress if u knw pplz message mii

imanibrown_chrisbrown@yahoo.com

July 20, 2009 at 3:01 pm
(13) pattricks says:

Chris,

I’m sorry that you had to get forced fed as you did, but; you really needed to eat. No disrespect, but, your ignorance on the subject of “Black Cowboys,” “Italian and Irish immagration,” and African Groups and clubs is pitiful and shameful. Take a moment to educate yourself prior to entering a high-level discussion, it would do you well and your racial group would not have to be ashamed of your comments. We have Black Cowboys because the majority ethinic group failed to educate the public at large of the various peoples that migrated westward and created viable communities. We only get the Caucasian version. Futhermore, as was detailed here, Black Americans were stripped of land, community, and family. They were subjected to “Laws” that were put into place to make sure that they could not have a descent education, business venture, and or cohesive community environment to develope their values, culture, and families. This was not the case for any other racial group save the American Native. Italains left a very abusive and corrupt European environment for opportunity in America, yes, they too were treated horribly here. However, they had a choice weighing the options faced here and back in Italy. Many choose to stay, why, because life was much better here even with the battery of racism they faced everyday. This can’t be compared to three hundred plus years of brutal, racial, slavery, coupled with economic deprivation, social deprivation, and not to mention educational and healthcare deprivation. Why did the Italians, Jews, and the Irish make it and succeed in creating “Nice” communities? They did just what you despise of the Black community, they seperated themselves from the majority and created educational, economic, social institutions ie. The Knights of Columbus. By comparison, Blacks have done very well for themselves given the enormous challenges put before them. Blacks have survived centuries of harm created via slavery and Europe colonialism. Most native peoples of the Americas were wiped out, however, Africans persisted like roaches. They were fed scraps and continued to grow strong. Drugs were methodically introduced into our neighborhoods, yet we persist. Political and governmental disadvantages were hurled at us, somehow we and you have a African president. Chris, a new day is not dawning it has dawned, and trust me it has yet to peak.

October 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm
(14) Sherese says:

HHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMM, maybe someone can help me. I tried so many times to check The Federation of Black Cowboys website to see if there are any events for 2010. Each time I go on the website, there was nothing listed. So I gave up. I was a bit upset to pass The Federation of Black Cowboys today (10/3/2010), and saw that there was an event held there. Can SOMEONE please help me? How on earth can I get on a mailing list on these events? What is the best way for me to be informed about these events? Thank You

January 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm
(15) Leah says:

The email is fbccowboys@yahoo.com. They will be able to answer any questions that you may have. Thanks

September 14, 2011 at 11:55 pm
(16) angel says:

yeah i wanted to say hello to james parker its me angel from new jersey

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