LAS VEGAS — Lines of fire lit up a formation of cowboys and the dirt arena, Sunday, kicking off the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo. The event, held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, marks the first all-Black rodeo to be aired on national television.
“This passes on a legacy and heritage and education of what the black cowboy and cowgirl meant to the building of this great nation of ours,” said Bill Pickett Rodeo Grand Marshal and actor Glynn Turman. “The rodeo is a tribute to Bill Pickett through the work of Lu Vason — who passed away…and now thanks to the efforts of his wife and his wonderful team we have moved on to become part of the PBR’s [Professional Bull Riders] presentation and we’re now on CBS.”
PBR — the leading US bull riding organization, and the Bill Pickett Rodeo announced, in February, a partnership that hopes to develop more Black rodeo athletes and diversify the sport’s fan base.
I think today’s event was groundbreaking. It has been hard for a guy like myself…to get on that level.
“To get everybody to be able to come here — as the Black rodeo and participate and compete for this kind of money, in front of this kind of a crowd — this is one of the plays in a chess game that’s going to set us up 10 years from now,” said Bill Pickett Rodeo Cowboy Tre Hosely.
Although this is the first national televised event, the Bill Pickett Rodeo celebrates 37 years in honoring Black cowboys and cowgirls. Bill Pickett Rodeo Founder Lou Vason aimed to expose the myth that there were no Blacks involved in the development of the West or in rodeo. He named his rodeo after the famous Black cowboy Bill Pickett who invented the bulldogging technique.
“We didn’t just bring all these guys together within the last few months when the PBR called us,” said Hosely. “This rodeo has been going on and prolific and bringing guys out — giving guys that platform. This is my stepping stool.”
The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo will air June 19th on CBS, at 1 p.m. EST. For more information about the Bill Pickett Rodeo visit @billpickett on Instagram or www.billpickettrodeo.com.
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