Juneteenth Rodeos

New book coming, 2024

When Sarah Bird was working toward a masters in photojournalism at UT Austin in the 1970s and 80s, her interests took her across the state to some of the lesser-known rodeo circuits: female, oldtimers’, kids’, Native American, LGBTQIA+, and, most significantly, Black rodeos. As vibrant as all the small-town Black rodeos were, the most jubilant were those that took place on Juneteenth in Texas Gulf Coast towns such as Egypt, Plum, Hempstead, and El Campo. At the time, rodeos were still largely segregated, and Bird was unable to find a home for her photos; all of the publishers she approached claimed there would be “little to no audience.”

The University of Texas Press is proud to be publishing these photographs, along with essays from Bird and the sociocultural sport historian Dr. Demetrius Pearson, but we need your help! Several of the images chosen for the book lack information about the persons photographed. If you or your family members can help to identify any of the individuals pictured below, please reach out to us directly at info@utpress.utexas.edu or to Sarah Bird at birdonawired@gmail.com

Thank you for your help!

Called “the finest living Texas writer” by The Texas Observer, SARAH BIRD is a novelist, screenwriter, and essayist. A nine-time winner of the Best Austin Fiction award, Bird was a finalist for the Dublin International Literary Award and was selected for the 2021 Paul Ré Award for Cultural Advocacy for spreading understanding through her work. She is the author of 14 books, including novels and essays. Her latest novel, Last Dance on the Starlight Pier, was published in April 2022. She has contributed to the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Salon, O: the Oprah Magazine, The Daily Beast, Real Simple, and Texas Monthly. Bird’s mission in writing is to tell the untold tale and to show the unseen image. She lives in Austin with her husband, son, and an impossibly cute corgi.