Did you know that 1 out of every 4 cowboys were Black?
Many people, including Paul W. Stewart, did not know this fact; however, Stewart made it his mission to make the historical roles and contributions of these Black cowboys more widely known. His efforts ultimately resulted in the creation of the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center in Denver, Colorado.
The creation of the museum spawned from a childhood curiosity and grew into righting a wrong often shared as “truth”. As a boy reared in Iowa, Stewart recalled playing the children’s game, “Cowboys and Indians”. When he wanted to act as a cowboy, he was always told that he could not have that role, as there were no Black cowboys.
When he became an adult and had been living in Denver, he discovered that there surely had been Black cowboys. After his discovery, he devoted a great deal of his life collecting, curating and sharing his research. His collection includes photographs, stories, memorabilia, documents and clothing that provide much-needed detail to fill in the blanks of Blacks as not only cowboys, but Blacks as pioneers of the West!