Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - August 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
20th Myrtis Dightman Rodeo Approaches
Houston County Courier - August 2008
Compiled by Sharron Randall
Myrtis Dightman, Sr. of Crockett, the first black cowboy to make it to the National Finals Rodeo, celebrates 20 years of sponsoring the 'Myrtis Dightman Rodeo' on Saturday, Aug. 20 at the Porth Ag Indoor Arena with proceeds going towards scholarships for the youth of the community.
Dightman was raised on a ranch by his parents Ada Lee and the late O.D. Dightman, and attended school in Crockett. He moved to Houston in the 1950s to find a job.
In 1957 he went to the administrators of Prairie View A&M University, voiced his concerns about the lack of black cowboys participating in the rodeos that came to town, and asked for help in starting his own rodeo.
Thus began Dightman's long quest to show the world and other black cowboys that professional rodeos were not just for white cowboys.
In 1961, after starting out as a rodeo clown fighting bulls, he began riding bulls. His "God-given" talent soon earned him the respect of cowboys of all races.
In 1966, Dightman became the first black cowboy to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. From 1966 to 1972, he missed qualifying for the NFR only once.
In 1968, he became the first black cowboy to qualify for the National Final Rodeo, qualified seven times, won a third and a second, but never the world title.
In 1971 he won the Calgary Stampede; in 1972 he was hired to do stunts for the rodeo movie "J.W. Coop and in 1997 Dightman became the first living black cowboy to be inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
In 2001 he was inducted in the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in Belton; in 2003 he was inducted into the National Cowboys of Color Museum and Hall of Fame and also the PBR inducted him into the Ring of Honor.
Raising funds for a bronze statue to honor this hometown native, often described as "the Jackie Robinson of modern day rodeo," continues.
Tickets for the 20th Myrtis Dightman, Sr. Rodeo, Saturday, Aug. 30, are available at the Baskins Western Wear and Walmart Super Center or may be purchased at the gate.