Project Detail: Delta Hill Riders


Reportage and Documentary 2019




Rory Doyle



Project Info

Delta Hill Riders

The subculture of African American cowboys and cowgirls in the rural Mississippi Delta

Just after the Civil War, one in four cowboys were African American, yet this population was drastically underrepresented in popular accounts. And it is still. The “cowboy” identity retains a strong presence in many contemporary black communities.

The body of work covers black heritage rodeos, horse shows, trail rides, “Cowboy Night” at black nightclubs, and subjects’ homes across the Delta. I have captured a group of riders showing love for their horses and fellow cowboys, while also passing down traditions and
historical perspectives among generations.

“Delta Hill Riders” is a story that's particularly timely with the current political environment, and one that provides a renewed focus on rural America.

Ultimately, the project aims to press against my own old archetypes — who could and could not be a cowboy, and what it means to be black in Mississippi — while uplifting the voices of my subjects — one that resists both historical and modern stereotypes.