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atCentral: “Juneteenth Rodeo” book conversation & signing with Sarah Bird

Thu June 6 @ 7:00 pm | 9:00 pm


Sarah Bird’s photos from the 1970s offer a rare portrait of the jubilant and now all-but-vanished world of small-town Black rodeos.

She will be joined in conversation with historian Michael Hurd, former director of Prairie View A&M University’s Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture.

A signing will follow. Books are available for purchase from BookPeople.

Juneteenth Rodeo

Long before Americans began to officially commemorate Juneteenth, in the heat of East Texas, saddles were being cinched, buckles shined, and lassoes adjusted for a day on the Black rodeo circuit in honor of the holiday. In the late 1970s, as they had been doing for generations, Black communities across the region held local rodeos for the talented cowboys and cowgirls who were segregated from the mainstream circuit. It was to these vibrant community events that bestselling Texas writer Sarah Bird, then a young photojournalist, found herself drawn.

In Juneteenth Rodeo, Bird’s lens celebrates a world that was undervalued at the time, capturing everything, from the moment the pit master fired up his smoker, through the death-defying rides, to the last celebratory dance at a nearby honky-tonk. Essays by Bird and sports historian Demetrius Pearson reclaim the crucial role of Black Americans in the Western US

Sarah Bird is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and essay collections. She is an NPR Moth storyteller, a winner of the Meryl Streep screenwriting competition, a Texas Institute of Letters Lifetime Achievement winner, an ALEX award winner, a member of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, a finalist for the Dublin International Literary Award, and the hologram greeter for the Austin Central Library.

Michael Hurd is a writer, historian, and former director of Prairie View A&M University’s Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture. His book “Thursday Night Lights, the Story of Black High School Football in Texas” is published by UT Press.


Date: Thu June 6
Time: 7:00 pm | 9:00 pm
Cost: Free
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