Despite the fact that when we see western movies, you never see African American Cowboys. We did in fact exists in the West other than slave hands.
“The Lone Ranger” was inspired by a Black man named Bass Reeves. Reeves had been born a slave but escaped West during the Civil War where he lived in what was then known as Indian Territory. He eventually became a Deputy U.S. Marshal, was a master of disguise, an expert marksman, had a Native American companion, and rode a silver horse.
But Reeves was not the only Black Cowboy. The Wild West drew enslaved Blacks with the hope of freedom and wages. When the Civil War ended, freedmen came West with the hope of a better life where the demand for skilled labor was high. These African Americans made up at least a quarter of the legendary cowboys who lived dangerous lives facing weather, rattlesnakes, and outlaws while they slept under the stars driving cattle herds to market.
Black cowboys were often expected to do more of the work and the roughest jobs compared to their white counterparts. Black cowboys were typically responsible for breaking the horses and being the first ones to cross flooded streams during cattle drives.
The term “Cowboy” is believed to be used as a derogatory term for Black men that were “Cowhands.”