cover of book

Black Rodeo: A History of the African American Western
by Mia Mask
University of Illinois Press, 2023
Paper: 978-0-252-08697-7 | eISBN: 978-0-252-05402-0 | Cloth: 978-0-252-04487-8
Library of Congress Classification PN1995.9.B585M37 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.4308996073

African American westerns have a rich cinematic history and visual culture. Mia Mask examines the African American western hero within the larger context of film history by considering how Black westerns evolved and approached wide-ranging goals. Woody Strode’s 1950s transformation from football star to actor was the harbinger of hard-edged western heroes later played by Jim Brown and Fred Williamson. Sidney Poitier’s Buck and the Preacher provided a narrative helmed by a groundbreaking African American director and offered unconventionally rich roles for women. Mask moves from these discussions to consider blaxploitation westerns and an analysis of Jeff Kanew’s hard-to-find 1972 documentary about an all-Black rodeo. The book addresses how these movies set the stage for modern-day westploitation films like Django Unchained. 

A first-of-its kind survey, Black Rodeo illuminates the figure of the Black cowboy while examining the intersection of African American film history and the western.

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