On Saturday, Feb. 6, at 6 p.m. the Oklahoma Historical Society Black Heritage Committee will present “Blacks on the Oklahoma Frontier: Lawmen, Outlaws, Cowboys, Cowgirls, and Rodeos,” the third Oklahoma African American Film Festival.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s festival will be held virtually. The online festival is free to the public, and no registration is necessary.
The focus of this year’s festival is African American pioneers on the Oklahoma frontier. Topics will include notorious outlaws such as Crawford Goldsby, better known as Cherokee Bill, and fearless lawmen like Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves. Art Burton, author of numerous publications including “Black, Red, and Deadly: Black and Indian Gunfighters of the Indian Territories” and “Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves,” will be a special guest.
Some of the films that will be featured in this year’s festival are:
• “Ballad of Bass Reeves,” written and performed by OHS Board member Dr. Harold Aldridge Jr.; filmed by Bare Bones Film Works from Muskogee.
• “Who is Sara Rector,” created by Kathleen Watkins, playwright and founder of Spiritually Bold; directed by Allen Washington; performed by Teresa Daniel and Mara Gore.
• “Fort Gibson: An Outpost on the Oklahoma Frontier,” created by Omar Reed, director of the OHS’s Fort Gibson Historic Site.
• “Join the Trail Ride,” produced by Carylon Ross, instructor of communications at Langston University, following the story of Luches Warrior and the Checotah Rough Riders.
Also included in the festival will be video footage of local rodeos and Round-Up Clubs. Oklahoma’s Western culture has been perpetuated through these events and organizations. Some of the groups and events featured will be the Boley Rough Riders, who were involved in Oklahoma’s oldest rodeo, which was established in the historically all-Black town of Boley; the Okmulgee Rodeo, which was established by Kenneth LeBlanc; and the Eastside Round-Up Club, which sponsored annual rodeos. The festival will screen footage of Black cowboys from Oklahoma who have won world championships in bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, and bull riding.
For more information, visit www.okhistory.org.
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