Westerns are a genre of movies and entertainment with a very loyal following. Everyone knows and loves the stories of cowboys and the old west – deserts, horses, and a woman who always seems to get into trouble.
Unfortunately, the cowboys featured in most mainstream western movies are disproportionately white. There is a misconception that most of the settlers moving out west were White. There were actually a lot of Black cowboys in the old west. There are also more Black cowboy movies out there than most people realize.
8 Black Cowboy Movies For Western Lovers
If you’re looking for a great Black cowboy movie, check out our list of favorites!
1. Harlem on the Prairie
Harlem on the Prairie was one of the first Black western movies ever made. It is a musical that was released in 1937. The movie features the excitement of the wild west and a rare storyline focused on a Black community of settlers. If you ever come across a copy of Harlem on the Prairie, snatch it up! It is very difficult to find copies since the film is so old.
2. Buck and the Preacher
Released in 1972, Buck and the Preacher was one of the first Black western movies to feature two well-known Black actors. Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier star in Buck and the Preacher, which features wagon trains, a cowboy, and a con man hiding as a preacher.
Posse is a lesser-known Black western movie that is worth a watch. The film focuses on Buffalo Soldiers who were hired, then betrayed, then questioned everyone around them. Posse has a lot of action and energy with more shoot-outs than many western classics. It is an entertaining movie that features topics like race, culture, and war.
4. Blazing Saddles
Blazing Saddles isn’t particularly a Black western film, but it does feature Cleavon Little as the first Black sheriff in an all-white town. You can imagine how that story goes with minds like Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks working on the film. The humor and satire in Blazing Saddles have achieved massive success with audiences of all ages.
5. Buffalo Soldiers
Buffalo Soldiers is a true story focused on an all-Black platoon of Civil War soldiers. The movie tells the story of the Buffalo Soldiers, who were sent to the western territories, and was met with hardship, natives, and outlaws. The movie stars Danny Glover and is a great historical representation of what a freed soldier would experience.
6. The Hateful Eight
A more modern take on a Black western movie is The Hateful Eight. This movie was directed by the famed Quentin Tarantino. The story features Samuel L. Jackson as a bounty hunting cowboy. If you prefer a more action-packed movie with more violence and realism than the old classics, then The Hateful Eight is a must-watch.
7. Django Unchained
DJango Unchained is one of the most notable and controversial movies of all time. It was another massive success from director Quentin Tarantino. Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx, a formerly enslaved man who is out for revenge against his former master. It is an extremely violent movie that is not safe for all ages. However, critics and audiences rave that it is one of the best Black western movies of all time.
8. The Harder They Fall
The Harder They Fall is a new Black western released in 2021. Some say the movie is so popular that it feels like a Renaissance for Black western filmmaking. Starring Idris Elba and Regina King, the star-studded movie is NOT one to miss if you are a western fan. Not only does it feature incredible talent, but the movie combines the need for diversity and cultural representation with the feel of a great wild west film.
What’s Your Favorite Black Western Movie?
The eight Black western movies we summarized above are some of the most popular of all time. These films are well worth a watch for fans of westerns, historical movies, or even some comedic relief. Each of these films proves that Black cowboys and the western genre could use more diversity and Black talent.