A black horse pranced down the street, following commands of its rider who reigned it away from cheering spectators. Gripping the microphone, emcee Wilbert McAlister, the president of the Oakland Black Cowboy Association, cajoled the horse to show the audience its tricks.
Over a dozen horses and riders joined the 39th Annual Oakland Black Cowboy Association parade on Saturday, a two-mile ride that began at DeFremery Park and continued through West Oakland, ending with a festival in the park.
Zydeco music and the smell of grilled hamburgers wafted through the air as children in cowboy hats danced on the side of the street.
The parade and festival celebrated the often untold history of black cowboys and cowgirls, including the black soldiers in the 10th U.S. Calvary Regiment, called Buffalo Soldiers, who helped to forge the West.
Along with celebrating a unique facet of African American history, the parade also served as a continuation of family traditions.
Some of the riders who joined the parade started riding horses shortly after they began walking. Dylan Matthew, 9, took an interest in horses after his dad brought home toy horses for him to play with when he was two years old. Although four people in Dylan’s family ride horses he said, “My dad is the best. I’m the second best.”