David McNew/Getty Images
Bullrider Robert Knight is thrown upside-down by a bull at the 18th annual Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo July 21, 2001 in Los Angeles, CA. The rodeo is named for William 'Bill' Pickett, the creator of bulldogging, or steer wrestling, and is dedicated to black cowboys of the western U.S.
The Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, the nation's only African-American touring rodeo, rides into the Southland this weekend. The rodeo has been around for more than a quarter century.
Since the mid 1980s, cowboys and cowgirls in the Pickett rodeo show have entertained audiences of all kinds - city slickers included. The event is named after black cowboy star Bill Pickett, born in the late 19th century. A promoter launched this rodeo to entertain and teach people about the history of black cowboys and pioneers.
Bill Pickett made a sport of wrangling cattle by the horns and wrestling them to the ground. Enthusiasts say his specialty was “bulldogging” - grabbing a steer’s lip with his teeth to gain control.
The man promoters billed as “The Dusky Demon” performed in numerous shows during a rodeo career that spanned decades.
Bill Pickett died in 1932 after a horse-kick to his head. Eventually he became the first African American rodeo athlete inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. The traveling invitational rodeo that bears his name takes place this weekend at the Industry Hills Expo Center.