This Ain’t Texas, But It Is A List of Black Western Films To Add To Your Watch List


Courtesy Paramount

Being Black and a cowgirl, or a cowboy, is nothing new. America has a rich history steeped in historical figures and change-makers who were “country”, bounty hunters, infamous law enforcers, homesteaders, and cowboys and cowgirls. From renowned law enforcer Bass Reeves, who was a runaway slave who eventually became a U.S. Marshall, to Stagecoach Mary, who was one of the first women to be a mail route carrier in America, the historical footprint of Black cowboys and cowgirls runs deep.

With news of the release of Beyonce’s “Cowboy Carter” country music album, there has been an increased interest in Country music and its roots in Southern culture, as well as Black Rodeo culture. Images and accurate representation matter, and Black Western films are a great way to learn more about cowboys, the South and Midwest, and even about the social, cultural and ethnic integration that occurred during pivotal moments in America’s history on the homestead. This Black Western-themed watchlist highlights films that range from the 1930s to the present and represent narratives that share representation of Black cowgirls, historical figures that were law enforcers, Old Black Hollywood, and contemporary modern takes on western action films as well.

Harlem Rides The Range (1939)

Watch it now on Tubi.

Harlem Rides The Range is a gem of a Black Western movie that showcases Old Black Hollywood actors such as Clarence Brooks (Murder in Harlem), Spencer Williams (Amos ‘n’ Andy), Herb Jeffries (Harlem on the Prairie), Artie Young (Jump For Joy), and Flournoy Miller (Shuffle Along, The Colored Aristocrats) among others. When two cowboys set out for adventure, they end up with a lot more than they bargained for. When they happen upon a ranch, they discover that a murder has taken place, only to find out the victim is still alive. There’s a villain, love at first sight, a plot to frame someone for the murder, close calls, and improbable escapes. If you love classic acting without all the fluff and frills, and seeing cowboys in action, you’ll definitely appreciate this film.

Buck and the Preacher (1972)

Watch it now on Amazon Prime.

Directed by Sidney Poitier and Joseph Sargent, Buck and the Preacher is an action-packed western full of adventure.  After the American Civil War, former slave and Union Army sergeant Buck (Sidney Poitier) becomes a wagon master, who leads freed slaves out west in search of a better life. Though he faces opposition from Southern plantation owners who hire outlaws to wreak havoc on his journey, Buck remains resilient, determined to help his fellow travelers reach their destination. As tensions rise and violence ensues, Buck and a Black preacher, Reverend Willis Oakes Rutherford, (Harry Belafonte) team up to confront the ruthless DeShay gang and retrieve stolen resources, despite overwhelming odds. Their courage and determination drive them to seek justice and ensure the freedom of those they lead, embodying the resilience and spirit of hope in the face of adversity.

Adios Amigo (1975)

Watch it now on Tubi.

Directed by Fred Williamson, Adios Amigo is set in the Western frontier, and two Black men, Big Ben (Fred Williamson) and Sam Spade (Richard Pryor), form an unlikely friendship. While Ben is honest and skilled with a gun, Sam is a sly con man who depends on his clever thinking and schemes. Sam’s constant scams put a strain on their friendship, as he often leaves Ben to deal with the fallout. Their journey takes them through various towns, jails, and encounters with rivals seeking their gains. Despite their adventures, most of their money is squandered on vices or lost to others. As their loyalty and partnership are tested by adversity, their friendship hangs in the balance.

Joshua: The Black Rider (1976)

Watch it now on Tubi.

Directed by Larry G. Spangler, and starring Fred Williamson, Joshua takes place in a traditional old Western landscape. Joshua, played by, is a lone Black ranger seeking revenge for his mother’s murder. After his return from fighting for the Union in the Civil War, Joshua discovers that a ruthless gang of white thugs has killed his mother and kidnapped his neighbor’s wife. Despite the sheriff’s failed attempts to apprehend the murderers, Joshua resolves to take matters into his own hands, embarking on a quest to track down and eliminate the killers one by one. If you love watching justice being served and seeing characters taking matters into their own hands, then Joshua is a must-watch. Joshua takes viewers on a ride through the Old West and showcases a protagonist who handles his business methodically, killing each thug one by one until he avenges all of his mother’s killers.  

Black Fox: The Price of Peace (1995)

Watch it now on Tubi.

You seldom hear stories about the enslaved being set free by a white counterpart, and then joining forces together to start fresh and new in a new land. But, in Steven Hilliard Stern’s Black Fox, Britt Johnson (Tony Todd) is set free by Alan Johnson (Christopher Reeves) and they form a bond that transcends racial barriers. Set in the late 19-century, Black Fox shares a story about how a formerly enslaved man, the “Black Fox” creates peace between homesteaders and Native American tribes during a time when things were contentious. Stories of happiness and peace between Native Americans and white settlers are often widespread, but Black Fox depicts a reality that denotes that Native Americans were not all that happy with their land being occupied.

Gang of Roses (2003)

Watch it now on Tubi.

When the former head of an all-female gang decides to avenge her sister’s death, she assembles a group of her old friends, and they get back in the saddle to handle business. This action-packed western drama features an all-female leading cast, and adds a modern, contemporary take on what happens when women are not interested in being good girls, but rather are out for “gold” and revenge. Starring the likes of Stacey Dash, Lisa Raye, Monica Calhoun, Lil’ Kim, Marie Matiko, and Macy Gray, Gang of Roses definitely gives a nod to Black cowgirls and defies the notion that women shouldn’t take matters into their own hands when they have to.

Django Unchained (2012)

Watch it now on Hulu, Starz or Amazon Prime.

It would be all too easy to surmise that Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained centers solely on the narrative around an escaped slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), who sets out to rescue his German-speaking wife, Broomhilda Von Shaft (Kerry Washington) from the brutal Candyland Plantation. But, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that Django Unchained also highlights the legacy of free Black cowboys and outlaws who were Bounty hunters and law enforcers, and is arguably inspired by the legendary Black Marshal, Bass Reeves. If you like to learn the hard truths about slavery coupled with a bit of humor, Django is an excellent watch. Not only does Django reimagine what it would be like if the tables were turned, and the enslaved carried the keys to chains and whips. The film also shares unique bits of history of social norms on plantations such as “hot boxes” as a form of solitary confinement, the barbaric fetish of plantation owners to watch “Mandigo fighting” and “battle royals”, as well as the duplicitousness of the nature of racism. For example, Calvin Candie was a brutal plantation owner, but he loved beautiful Black women.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves (2023)

Watch it now on Paramount+ and Amazon Prime.

Lawmen: Bass Reeves is a television series created by Chad Freehan that beautifully shares the story of one of America’s first Black Deputy U.S. Marshals. Starring David Oyelowo, Demi Singleton, and Lauren E. Banks, this television miniseries highlights a time in American history when many escaped and free slaves partnered with Native Americans to capture criminals. Bass Reeves was more than a cowboy, he was infamously known as one of the best law enforcers in the MidWest during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 


Source link

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply