Inside Look: Black History Month with Terrance Carroll 

stockshowblog, News

NWSS Board Member, Terrance Carrol with his horse, Luna.

The history of the Black Cowboy is undeniably rich. Originating as enslaved Africans in the 1800s, many ranchers and farmers depended on enslaved people to maintain their land and cattle while they were sent to fight in the Civil War. During these times, managing and tending to land and animals developed skills and instincts that birthed the Black Cowboy. 

Former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, and current Senior Voting and Democracy Fellow, Terrance Carroll also serves on the Board of Directors of the Western Stock Show Association (WSSA) (dba), the National Western Stock Show (NWSS). As the only African-American to have served as a Speaker of the Colorado House, Carroll has worked tirelessly to effectively represent the people of Colorado with a mission to support and strengthen Colorado’s rich Western roots. 

“The West was built for people to come out and make their way. From the Indigenous people who were already here to the Vaqueros and Black cowboys and their families, this included everybody,” said Carroll. 

Born on a family farm in southern Maryland, Carroll has deep family roots. His relatives, previously enslaved on the farm, became owners of the farm and grew their legacy as oyster farmers and shrimpers. During his childhood, Carroll grew up in Washington, DC, and visited Maryland over his summers, spending much of his time around the east coast backcountry. Carroll’s true calling to western agriculture and the cowboy way of life was instilled upon moving to Colorado and witnessing the historic NWSS.

About 20 years ago, during his time as a legislator, Carroll visited the Stock Show for the first time. Soon after, he purchased a ranch in eastern Colorado and bought a horse named Luna. NWSS “stuck” on him, and he wanted to be more involved in the non-profit mission. He was invited and quickly nominated to become a WSSA member and, 

NWSS Board Member, Terrance Carrol with his horse, Luna.
NWSS Board Member, Terrance Carroll with his horse, Luna.

soon after, a trustee in the association. After holding a WSSA Trustee title, in 2014, Carroll became the first African-American member of the WSSA Board of Directors and actively sits on the Board today. 

From his first visit, Carroll has uncovered an immense love for the NWSS. “Stock Show is really “Cowboy Homecoming.” It’s a time for friends to come together and share our stories. It feels like a huge family,” says Carroll. Friends and families make the annual pilgrimage to NWSS to experience all the show has to offer. Carroll has seen the show and organization evolve over the years and is pleased to see the diversity expansion from guests to exhibitors and athletes. 

Black History Month is much more than a month of recognizing Black people. It’s a month where we recognize Black history’s impact on American history. “Black history is so intertwined with American history that they are one in the same,” says Carroll. NWSS celebrates the Black cowboy and the people who have enriched the vibrant history of the West. Not only in January but this month and every month.