Black rodeos are bucking perceptions of what cowboys and cowgirls should look like.
Sitting on top of an enormous bucking bull, Ky-Manee Hardy says he has "all of the power in the world." The only thing preventing him from soaring through the air is his right-handed grip on a bull rope and his knees straddling the animal's torso.
A gate swings open and the bull thrashes into the dirt-covered arena, kicking his legs wildly. Thousands of spectators roar, admiring the duel — the first of eight in this bull riding competition at the 35th annual Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo.
In many ways, this rodeo is no different than any other. It's a weekend of bull riding, steer wrestling, bareback horse riding and other rodeo sports. Cowboy hats, Wrangler jeans and western boots are the standard attire. Vendors serve up heapings of fried comfort food from smoke-filled concession stands. The only difference is that every competitor and most of the fans are black.
» USA TODAY delivers current local and national news, sports, entertainment, finance, technology, and more through award-winning journalism, photos, videos and VR.