Since 2017, the Compton Cowboys have worked to change the stigma behind the Black communities in Los Angeles, starting with small initiatives like the one this weekend. The group is made up of ten childhood friends, who were previously members of the Compton Jr. Posse- founded in the Mid-20th Century that has been home to Black cowboys since.
Walter Thompson-Hernandez, author of The Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America’s Urban Heartland and The Compton Cowboys: Young Readers Edition, explains his motives behind sharing the Compton Cowboys with the rest of the world on a larger platform.
Using his Black and Mexican upbringing in Los Angeles to his advantage, Thompson Hernandez touches on the history between the two groups in regards to gang violence, love, identity, poverty and family experiences. Through the recollection of stories of these Black Cowboys living in Southeast L.A. he is trying to accomplish the reconciliation of the two cultures.
The Compton Cowboys have been motivated by the generalizations regarding crime. Part of their goal is to break the stereotypes of the area within and on the outside of the community. On the inside, members use horseback riding as an outlet away from the violent realities in their neighborhoods, and as ways to show a different image of the individuals within.
Thompson Hernandez retold stories from the cowboys throughout his book. In one example, the cowboy explained that if he would be walking down the street, he probably would be prone to being stopped and questioned by officers. But on horseback, it was a completely different image, the officers may just slow down and watch along with many other individuals in the community who are still stunned by the view of the Compton Cowboys riding through their residential areas.
The group also advocates for younger generations to be more active in their community. The most recent way they provided a positive influence for the youth, was through their ride to a local ballot drop off site this weekend. On horseback, the Compton Cowboys were accompanied by dozens of individuals from their community to drop off their ballots.
The Compton Cowboys were joined by Latinx members of the community, some of them also on horseback and even more community members skateboarding or even walking along with them. This just one of the ways they have initiated that the Compton citizens be more active in their community- this season especially because of the political climate.
The Compton Cowboys also made headlines earlier this year when they attended Black Lives Matter protests in Los Angeles. So now, with early in-person voting beginning across the country, the cowboys painted “Compton Vote” along their horses' backs to continue these efforts within the community.
The Compton Cowboys shared a clip from CNN on their Instagram captioned “Compton Cowboys for the people.”