BACK IN THE SADDLE: Bill Pickett Rodeo returns after two-year absence due to COVID

By Ray Richardson

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, a 38-year-old celebration of the Black cowboy, is highlighting its annual stop in the Los Angeles area with a new feature, a traveling museum at Edward Vincent Park in Inglewood July 15.

For six hours beginning at noon, kids and families will get a fun-filled opportunity to experience the overshadowed legacy of Black cowboys and the impact they had on American history.

The museum kicks off the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo weekend with shows July 16 and 17 at the Industry Hills Expo Center in the city of Industry. Show times are 7 p.m. July 16 and 3:30 p.m. July 17.

The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is back on tour for the first time since 2019 after shutting down because of COVID.

“We had over 1,500 people pass through the museum last weekend in Oakland,” said Margo Wade-LeDrew, Los Angeles coordinator and national director for the rodeo. “It’s really something special and memorable to see.”

In addition to the museum, which is free, visitors will have access to games, pony rides, face painting, line dancing, food trucks and other displays and activities. Several of the men and women performing in the cowboy shows in Industry Hills also will be at the museum.

Drawing prizes at the museum will include tickets to both shows. At least 100 sets of four tickets for families will be given away among the prizes.

A grant from Toyota helped create the museum on wheels, which chronicles the history of Black cowboys with videos, pictures and memorabilia. The museum was developed to further enhance the memory of Bill Pickett, identified by various research sources as the first “African-American cowboy.”

Pickett, who died in 1932, started performing in rodeos in 1900. He grew up in the western part of Texas and started riding horses when he was a kid. The rodeo in his name has helped raise awareness about the stature of Black cowboys in American history.

Wade-LeDrew said the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is the “longest-running” Black family event in the world.

“We’ve traveled to 32 cities over the 38 years,” Wade-LeDrew said. “We make a point to go to cities where African Americans don’t get to see Black cowboys and Black cowgirls.”

Future stops for the rodeo this year include Atlanta and Fort Worth, Texas, in August and Washington, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland in September.

Patrons get to see Black cowboys and cowgirls perform such rodeo activities as bareback riding, bull riding, relay racing, barrel racing, breakaway roping and bulldogging.

The Glynn Turman Relay Race, named after the popular actor, returns as one of the rodeo’s most anticipated events. The event features celebrities riding horses.

Wade-LeGrew said Turman is filming in Canada and is unable to participate this weekend. She indicated that several celebrities have committed to competing. Actor-comedian Jaime Foxx was the relay race grand marshal during its 2019 weekend in Industry.

The rodeo sold out both shows in Oakland last weekend. The 4,200-seat Industry Hills Expo Center is close to selling out also, but Wade-LeGrew said tickets are available for both days.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at 310-674-6700.

Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at