I learned tonight that the Federation of Black Cowboys’ oldest member, Ben “Tex” Miller, has passed away. I last photographed Uncle Ben (as everyone calls him) last June, and I’ve known him since my first days photographing the Federation, in early 2006. Despite a crooked, hunched back and various injuries from his career as a professional bullrider and cowboy, Uncle Ben was one of the most positive, upbeat people I’ve ever met. He was 97.
I made hours upon hours of audio recordings of Uncle Ben detailing his life, from a tiny kid born to emancipated slaves through the hustle of the 1930’s rodeo circuit onto his wild life in New York City. Next month when I’m back in Oakland, I’ll edit some clips and post them. They’re amazing.
A heartfelt goodbye to the man who was quite possibly Harlem’s greatest cowboy.