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Alonzo Pettie

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Information about Alonzo Pettie

Profile image of Alonzo Pettie

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Cowboy

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Cornbread, Peas (Black-Eyed), Buttermilk
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
United States
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
6/18/1910
Birth Location:
Tyler, Texas

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Cowboy

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Cornbread, Peas (Black-Eyed), Buttermilk
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
United States
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
6/18/1910
Birth Location:
Tyler
See how Alonzo Pettie is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Named for a grandfather born in slavery, Alonzo Pettie was born on June 18, 1910 in Tyler, Texas. His mother died in 1919 and after his father’s death in 1926, Pettie learned to break horses to support himself. Two years later, he began working on a West Texas ranch, and the rancher saw his skill with horses and taught him to ride. Pettie began riding professionally in rodeos and, although he no longer rides horses, he has been a cowboy ever since.

In 1929, Pettie failed to dismount from a bucking bronco on the correct side in an Odessa, Texas, rodeo. He was thrown, dislocating his shoulder. Undaunted, he went on to win the bull riding contest the same day with his arm in a sling. In the years that followed, he suffered many serious injuries, including a ruptured navel that required surgery and a broken pelvic bone in 1930.

Pettie served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1944. Returning to the United States, he continued in the rodeo circuit, traveling to Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. While competing in Colorado’s first black rodeo in 1947, he broke his pelvic bone again, spending three months in a body cast. After that, he stopped riding broncos and bulls. In 1962, Pettie began working in the maintenance department at the Sears Seminary South store in Fort Worth, Texas. The next year, he tied for first place in a best-dressed cowboy competition. He transferred to Denver in 1965 and eventually retired from Sears ten years later. He continued to ride horses until 1995 and was featured in a 1996 Levi Strauss ad campaign for Red Tab jeans.

Pettie, a storyteller and speaker of renown, is chronicled in the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center in the Five Points district of Denver. “The Champ,” or “Ole Alonzo,” as he was called, was an active member of the Colorado Black Cowboys and Horseman Association member since its formation. Working with youth, the association organizes rodeo events with bareback riding, calf and steer roping, and barrel racing.

Pettie passed away on August 2, 2003.

Pettie was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 17, 2002.

See how Alonzo Pettie is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alonzo Pettie interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alonzo Pettie's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alonzo Pettie recalls his mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alonzo Pettie talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alonzo Pettie remembers his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alonzo Pettie recalls growing up in Longview, Texas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alonzo Pettie discusses his family's property and lineage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alonzo Pettie explains furnishing stock for a rodeo
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alonzo Pettie recounts his early schooling
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alonzo Pettie remembers his parents' deaths
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Alonzo Pettie describes his transient life following his parents' deaths
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Alonzo Pettie recalls his childhood activities with neighbors
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Alonzo Pettie discusses the guidelines he followed as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alonzo Pettie speculates on the longevity of some of his family members
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alonzo Pettie shares family stories about slavery
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alonzo Pettie recalls spending time on his grandfather's farm
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alonzo Pettie recounts how he learned to ride rodeo
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alonzo Pettie remembers the rules of segregation among children
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alonzo Pettie recalls his mother's contributions to home and community
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alonzo Pettie describes Saturday night dances at his uncle's house
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alonzo Pettie remembers his sisters' deaths
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alonzo Pettie recalls how he started riding in the rodeo
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alonzo Pettie explains how he injured his shoulder
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alonzo Pettie remembers participating in rodeo competitions
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alonzo Pettie recounts some of his riding injuries
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alonzo Pettie describes his riding style
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alonzo Pettie talks about breaking wild horses
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alonzo Pettie discusses his service in the United States Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alonzo Pettie remembers racial attitudes in the Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alonzo Pettie describes some of his duties in the Army
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alonzo Pettie recalls his post-Army career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alonzo Pettie details his involvement in rodeo from 1948 through the 1980s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alonzo Pettie remembers being named Best Dressed Cowboy, and a cattle drive
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alonzo Pettie recalls his marriage in 1962
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alonzo Pettie remembers his career with Sears Roebuck in the 1950s and 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alonzo Pettie discusses how he has kept his cowboy style through the years
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Alonzo Pettie discusses black cowboys and rodeo
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Alonzo Pettie remembers his rodeo days
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Alonzo Pettie remembers his horses
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alonzo Pettie recalls his work for Sears, Roebuck & Co.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alonzo Pettie remembers his Red Tab jeans ad for Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alonzo Pettie recounts being honored by Mayor Wellington Webb
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alonzo Pettie reflects on his life and career as a black cowboy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alonzo Pettie shares stories about his brother's mule
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alonzo Pettie discusses some of the difficulties faced by black cowboys
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alonzo Pettie shares his views on race
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alonzo Pettie expresses his views on discipline