The Compton Cowboys
Ilegal Mezcal is excited to showcase our partnership with The Compton Cowboys.
The video directed and shot by Israel Ramos, with art direction by Kïa Tavernier, is straight out of Richland Farms in the heart of Compton. Based in this historic part of Los Angeles the ranch has been a family establishment, home to the Compton Cowboys since the 1980s.
The history of the vaquero is entwined with the history of African Americans – a major inspiration for the Ilegal Mezcal x Compton Cowboys partnership. In the spirit of the men of color that paved the way for the Compton Cowboys, men born enslaved but whose lives left lasting legacies of strength, men like the original lone ranger, Bass Reeves, our modern day cowboys ride. These tales of equine and personal bravery have become legend, and Randy Savvy, leader of the cowboys, seems nostalgic repeating one of the cowboy’s personal mantras “Streets raised us, horses saved us”.
The Compton Cowboys is a collective of lifelong friends on a mission to uplift their community through horseback and farming lifestyle, all the while highlighting the rich legacy of African Americans in equine and western heritage. The Compton Jr. Equestrians program was developed to serve inner-city youth in the hub city of Compton, along with local areas. CJE was formed in response to the lack of programs available to youth in the community who are at risk for dropping out of school, incarceration, and poverty.
Connecting communities of color to their origins is a driving force behind the Compton Cowboys. Often within these origin stories lives hardship. As one cowboy, Keiara, beautifully put it “Saving a horse, you have to understand how they experience adversity. You feel just the way that I feel. You hurt just the way that I hurt. You experience pain just how I experience pain”. Healing begins with education and that is where the story begins for the Cowboys. Randy Savvy speaks with pride about his and the Cowboy’s and the next generations role in their neighborhoods, and other communities similar to Compton, how they can continue to inspire the further generations of cowpokes. He hopes to reclaim these stories for Black and brown cowboys, a noble goal of rewriting our history.
At its core the cowboy life is simple – an open air fire, acoustic guitar and a bottle of mezcal, never forgetting one's love for community, family and culture. The Compton Cowboy message is clear, keep your head to the sky, keep dreaming. It’s gonna be a better day tomorrow, as long as you get up. It’s about showing faces, skin color, and culture, evoking that spirit of history, and rewriting it.