Memoir Chronicles Black Cowboy’s Horseback Ride From Shore To Shore

image NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – One of the most recent and fascinating Black History memoirs published in 2012 tells the little-known six-month adventure of an African-American cowboy who rode horseback from Manhattan to California.

That gripping journey by Miles Dean, filled with stops to recognize sites that were milestones in African-American culture, is shared in detail by author Lisa K. Winkler in On The Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America (ISBN 978-1468123920, 2012, Create Space, 148 pages, $12.95 available on Amazon).

Miles Dean rode his horse more than 5,000 miles across the country to celebrate the contributions of African Americans to U.S. history. A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America will resonate with horse people, armchair travelers, educators, parents and young people who are connected with the African-American community.

Winkler met Miles Dean while teaching inner city youth in Newark and became so enthralled by his account of riding horseback across America that she agreed to write the book. Shortly after meeting Miles Dean, Winkler wrote an article on black jockeys for the Smithsonian Institute and has since interviewed several black history scholars.

“When I first met Miles Dean, I was hooked,” recalls Winkler. “His passion for his subject and determination to accomplish something that few would undertake awed me. I am the daughter of liberal parents who marched in Washington, D.C. for civil rights and was enthralled by the stories Miles told and his encounters with black history while riding across America.”

Among the little known jewels of black history included in A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America are these accounts:

· African-Americans who served as US marshals, upholding the law protecting settlers by chasing bank robbers, cattle thieves and other bandits.

· Black cowboys who, for the first half of the 20th century, were barred from competing against white cowboys in the prize events at rodeos and were banned from appearing in motion pictures, both ways in which cowboys supplemented their ranch wages.

· Philadelphia’s Washington Square, once called “Congo Square,” was the site of several slave auctions that separated Africans from loved ones, sending them into servitude.

· As the nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800 Philadelphia hosted George Washington’s presidency. A known slaveholder, Washington brought his slaves to Philadelphia, circumventing the law that granted slaves freedom after a six-month residency by moving them back to Virginia.

· The jockey who rode Man o’ War, who won 20 of 21 races in the early 1920s, was the black jockey Burns Murphy, son of a former slave. Murphy claimed three Kentucky Derby victories and won 44 percent of all the races he rode, a record still unmatched.

· The participation of blacks in racing dates back to colonial times, when the British brought their love of horseracing to the New World. Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson frequented the track, and when President Andrew Jackson moved into the White House in 1829, he brought his horses and his black jockeys with him.

· The first performer on the Grand Ole Opry was DeFord Bailey, an African American country music star from the 1920s. A grandson of slaves, Bailey learned to play the harmonica while convalescing after polio. He premiered on radio, recorded many albums, and toured with other country stars throughout the South and the West.

Marian Smith Holmes, an associate editor for the Smithsonian Magazine, has described these accounts as “precious nuggets of our American past that bear telling to people of all ages and races.”

“It was tremendous to see how much pride my middle school students took in learning about the many valuable contributions that African-American cowboys and jockeys made to our country’s formation,” stresses Charity Haygood, principal of Brick Avon Avenue Academy in Newark. “I loved that our students had Miles Dean who not only taught history but actually had the guts and real personal drive to make history living! He truly had his horse, ‘walk his talk!”

Molefi Kete Asante, author of 100 Greatest African Americans, had this to say about Winkler’s book: “Lisa Winkler has written an inspiring book; she has engaged us at the level of concrete contributions of African Americans to the history of the United States. Miles Dean’s own participation in that history is inescapably awesome. I salute this work and encourage everyone to read this powerful book.”

After returning from his journey, Miles Dean is now enjoying an extended stay in South America but will be returning in time to stage an African-American parade in Newark to celebrate Memorial Day weekend.

About the Author
A former journalist, Lisa K. Winkler has an extensive career as an educator working with inner city youth. Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Winkler lived in London from 1982-87 before moving to New Jersey where she now resides. She earned her BA degree from Vassar College in 1978 and an MA in Education in 1992 from New Jersey City University. Winkler was a middle school language arts teacher for more than 10 years who has just completed a five-year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, New Jersey. She has written several magazine articles, essays for book anthologies, several study guides for Penguin Books, and still writes for Education Update, an education newspaper based in New York City. Winkler is a frequent speaker at conferences, seminars and workshops.


Media Contact: For a review copy of A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America, or to schedule an interview with Lisa Winkler, please contact Scott Lorenz, President of Westwind Communications, 734-667-2090, Cell: 248-705-2214 or or


Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. […] Faces of Black History – Black Cowboys ( Share this:ShareEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tags: Abraham Lincoln, California, Philippines, Plains Indians, Republican, Sherman, Spanish-American War, Thomas DiLorenzo, U.S. government, United State, William Tecumseh Sherman Comments (0) Trackbacks (1) Leave a comment Trackback […]

  2. I remember years ago watching the film Posse. I used to think it was unrealistic seeing do many black cowboys. But after doing some research I found out there were a lot of black cowboys. I’ve never heard of this book before. But I will definitely check it out. People need to do their own research to find out the truth. You can’t expect Hollywood films to tell you the truth. And definitely when it comes to black folks out history is always “whitewashed”,so to speak.


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