The Concrete Cowboys of Compton


The Compton Cowboys ride down South Tamarind Avenue, along with hundreds of people marching, during the Compton Peace Ride on June 7. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Ina Bakkar, Writer

When people think of Compton California they don’t exactly think of the Wild West and Cowboys, yet surprisingly the Compton Cowboys are a prominent part of the area’s culture. The Cowboys started 20 years ago, being a part of the Compton Jr. Posse, which was a nonprofit run and founded by Mayisha Akbar in Richland Farms. “When I was 11, I saw a black guy who was washing his horses outside of his home,” said Charles Harris, 29.  “I walked up to him and started asking him questions about horses because I had only seen horses on TV before that.” The very next day his mother signed the papers and paid the fee for him to become a member of the Compton Jr. Posse.

During the 2020 Election, the Cowboys delivered ballots, Randy Savvy, a Compton Cowboy states “This might be the most important election of many of our lifetimes – I know it is for me, just because of the ramifications of it all. The future is at stake. Our country has never really … been to me as close to a revolution as it is now, and so I think … It’s important for us all to be active and do our part and at least say we tried,” They bring attention to issues such as voter suppression, which is quite a real issue in the lower income communities around the U.S.A.

Leighton BeReal, a 28-year-old who was born and raised in Compton stated “We’ve always wanted to give people a different side of Compton besides gangster rap and basketball,” which has always been a big motivator for the Cowboys, showing that there’s more to Compton than what meets the eye.

Andrew Hosley states “I used to have the same reaction when I was a kid of their age,” he says, “watching the guys ride by on horses, and I always wanted to touch ’em, ride ’em.” Kids in Compton are always excited when they see the horses, usually wanting to have a pony ride, which Hosley is happy to let them. Compton has a long history of Cowboys and ranch work believe it or not. Going as far back as 1867 when Reverend Griffith Dickenson Compton lead 30 people to try and find fortune in Gibsonville, later named Comptonville, searching for California Gold. Richland Farms was used as land for grain and Livestock for 100 years before Mayisha Akbar’s family bought the farm.

The Compton Cowboys also took part in the “Compton Peace Walk” which was scheduled from 12 PM to 2 PM, where protestors walked from Gateway Towne Center to the Martin Luther King Jr. monument by the Compton City Hall. They invited other Equestrians nearby and stated in a social media post “This is for the history books let’s ride!!!!”

The Compton Cowboys are an important part of the History and culture of the Compton area. As well as rescuing kids from street and gang violence, something that is quite prominent in Compton California. Working with horses and at the farm gives the kids a way to escape from reality and have something that will keep them off the streets. As well as learning helpful skills that they will be able to use in the future and apply to life. Anthony Harris stated “I was always around shootings and gangs, but none of that happens when I’m in the stables with the horses,”

As a California Local, I think this story is important because sharing the story of The Compton Cowboys and being able to share such an integral part of community and history can be inspiring to some people and possibly spark action. Spreading the word of such a helpful group could help many people, the Compton Cowboys aren’t very well known, and yet their story is an interesting and inspiring one to say the least.