Divine 9 members share their experiences at Tennessee’s 1st Black rodeo

Divine 9 members share their experiences at Tennessee's 1st Black rodeo
LR: Taylor Swett, Ebony Jenkins, and Lakisha Prowell

On May 28, 2022, Nashville, Tennessee hosted the Black Rodeo at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center.

The rodeo featured events such as steer wrestling, tie-down roping, relay racing, ladies barrel racing, ladies steer undercoating, bull riding, and ranch bronc. This was Nashville’s first time hosting a Black rodeo, and the event will travel to other cities around the United States throughout the summer.

Many people came out to show support for the Black cowboys and cowgirls, and also learned some of the history about the event as well. Ebony Jenkins, Lakisha Prowell, and Taylor Swett, who are all members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., attended the rodeo and shared their experiences with rolling out. 

“I’ve been to about three or four rodeos before, I usually go to the Professional Bull Riders rodeo at Bridgestone arena,” Jenkins said. “This was my first Black rodeo. It’s just really good to be able to see a Black rodeo and see Black people doing all the things that they say we can’t do.

“I’m from the country, so I take my dad to the PBR rodeo often, and he and my granddad talk about Bill Pickett all of the time.” Pickett was an African American cowboy who invented the steer wheeling event.

There were several rodeo events, but the two that stuck out to Jenkins were probably the funniest of the day. “My favorite part was the dance contest and the pimp that you could take pictures with,” she said.

Prowell’s favorite moment of the rodeo was the 10-year-old who participated in the tie-down roping event, where the rider has to dismount the horse, go to the calf, throw it to the ground, then tie three of the calf’s legs together with a short piece of rope.

“That was exciting for me,” Prowell said.

With all three women being proud members of Divine 9 and Prowell and Swett having HBCU ties, they offered suggestions that could make for a better experience during next year’s rodeo.

“You can always collaborate with the Divine Nine and HBCUs to get the crowd and to get the food, so you can get more recognition for this event,” Jenkins said.

When asked if they’ll be back for another rodeo next year, there was a unanimous “yes” from all three fans of the sport.

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