When you think of the old West, actors like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood may come to mind. But Hollywood’s portrayal is a white-washed version of reality.
Olathe-based children’s book author Trae Venerable is looking to change that narrative by casting light on the generations of Black cowboys who worked the open range, building the early beef industry. Historians estimate about one in four cowboys was Black. Venerable, a fourth-generation cowboy, shares their stories.
“That representation is huge for me because growing up I didn’t really read a lot of books by Black authors and I didn’t see a lot of Black characters, so I just wanted to give that representation,” he says.
A lot of his readers tell him that they want to be a cowboy or a cowgirl, but for Venerable, that has a deeper meaning.
“Being a cowboy—he’s not listening to anybody, you know, kind of going through your own life and being wild, being free,” Venerable says. “To chase your dreams and not let anybody tell you what you can do, what you can’t do.”
Venerable sees the importance of delivering this message to his young audiences. “There are a lot of people that allowed me to be in this position today, so I never take that for granted.”
You can purchase his books from his website at traevenerable.com.