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Cover Story: How Black Riders Made Their Way to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

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Jamie Francies, Jr. grew up in West Houston, for the most part flying under the radar of the local Ku Klux Klan operating in the middle of the 20th century. As a kid, he did see the victim of a lynching where Post Oak crosses Buffalo Bayou and he had to go to colored school in the segregated times.

But it wasn't until 1957, when he tried to get an application to ride along on the Salt Grass Trail ride one of the biggest going into the Fat Stock Show (later the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo) that the color of his skin was an absolute hurdle to his aspirations. Trail rides were an all-white affair and no one in power was in any hurry to change that.

Jamie Francies did. With the help of Prairie View A&M, he was able to start up a trail ride the next year filled with black riders. And all these years later, his efforts ended up being the impetus for other trail rides with black cowboys and cowgirls.

An estimated 1,500 African-American riders now ride into the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo every year and even more can be found riding on organized trails on weekends.

To find out how he did that, check out our story "Long Riders" by Chris Curry as well as the outstanding photographs he was able to bring back from one trail ride from Abilene, where the 82-year-old Francies is now retired.


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