When the Hogg Middle School Black Culture committee first got together in the fall to brainstorm the school’s Black History Month celebration, the initial thought was to do a Harlem Renaissance theme.
But then a parent suggested a focus on African-American cowboys, and planning for the Yeehaw Adventure began.
“This year we were really interested in streamlining the experience for our students so they could actually walk away with a new knowledge that was also rooted in the surrounding environment,” said Terri Hamm, vice president of Hogg’s parent-teacher association programs. “If you ever drive through Acres Homes or other historically black neighborhoods there is a very high probability that you will see black men, women and children riding horses. We wanted to explore and learn about this rich cultural dynamic with our community at Hogg.”
The result was on display Tuesday night, when the Hogg community came together to celebrate the legacy of the black cowboy.
A kickoff program featured Carl Burnett, a member of 190 Trail Riders whose purpose is to promote the knowledge of horsemanship and instill the traditional ways of the cowboy to future generations. Burnett talked about the history of the black cowboy, which dates back to the 19th century.
Cowboy Nat Love was born a slave but went on to have a 20-year stint as a cattle driver and rodeo performer, publishing a popular biography, “The Life and Adventures of Nat Love,” in 1907. According to an article in Smithsonian Magazine, one in four cowboys was African-American.
Other program highlights included students who performed songs, dances and spoken-word performances. The Hogg Middle School Choir sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is often referred to as the black national anthem.
After sixth-grade student Anthony Sadler, the master of ceremonies, made his closing remarks, the audience was invited to go on their Yeehaw Adventure. This included the Wrangler Posse and Shut ‘Em Down Outlawz Trail Riding groups who came out with their horses to entertain and educate attendees, as well as Crystal Wall, who led line dancing in the gymnasium. Mechanical bull riding and a chili cookoff took place in the school cafeteria and the Black Heritage Society was on hand to share cowboy artifacts.
Art teacher Kati Ozanic designed a mural with her students of The Chisholm Kid, the first black cowboy to be featured in a comic strip. Students painted the mural during the event. Once completed, it will be framed and displayed.
“There are so many amazing people who really stepped up to make this event possible,” Hamm said, giving special thanks to parent committee members Wall, Christopher Sola, Erika Donnie, Tamara Harris, Tiko Hausman, Lintell Martin, Martha Martinez and Anthony Sadler. “I’d also like to thank the incredible Hogg staff members that have been great partners in this venture.”
Sponsors for the event included Phil Strong Enterprises, Upper Kirby Kitchen, The Breakfast Klub, Wrangler Posse, Black Heritage Society, Prairie View Trail Riders Association, Shut ‘Em Down Outlaws, Plucked and More, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Sweet P’s Cupcakes, Bud’s Meat Market, Canes, Chick-fil-A and Wazobia Market.