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This rodeo family is honoring generational legacy and Black cowboy culture


(UPPER MARLBORO, Md.) — The Jackson Family Rodeo Crew is an Upper Marlboro, Maryland, family of seven epitomizing the rodeo lifestyle and legacy of Black cowboys in the United States.Parents Corey and Robyn Jackson have dedicated themselves to supporting their five kids, four of whom compete, in living that lifestyle to the fullest.

Corey Jackson told “Good Morning America” that from the time he was a young child in his hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he had always wanted to be a cowboy.

“It’s really nostalgic, you know, to think back on that time because it was my grandfather and I. He is who got me started watching Westerns [on] Saturday mornings,” he said. “So just from that little, young age, you know, seeing just the mystique of the cowboy you know, riding the Western Range, what have you, I just fell in love with it.”

In some ways, Corey Jackson’s childhood dreams were Robyn Jackson’s norm.

“It’s funny, Corey wanted to be a cowboy — I thought it was normal,” Robyn Jackson said of her generations-long family history in the field that made growing up around horses a reality.

“On my dad’s side, back to the Reconstruction Era, [in] my family, the men were sharecroppers. And so to be a sharecropper, you needed help, and the help came by way of an animal — horse, mule — and they became very skilled in training those horses for work purposes,” she said. “Not until my dad did that skill kind of change into a pleasure activity.”

The pair would eventually meet and hit it off rather fittingly at the famous Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo — which “celebrates and honor Black Cowboys and Cowgirls and their contributions to building the west,” according to its official website — going on to raise their fifth generation wrangler children Dylan, 9, Nic, 14, twins Reagan and Ryan, 12, and Robert,15, on the land that Robyn Jackson’s father Robert Harper purchased and developed, and training in their home arena that he built decades ago.

“It almost brings tears to my eyes because I don’t think we ever, you know, we just never imagined. You don’t know what your future holds,” Robyn Jackson said. “I don’t know that I had ever planned to have little cowboys and cowgirls but that is what has happened. And I’m so thankful because all the decisions that my dad made early on, we had no idea how that was going to impact our lives today.”

As for the kids, when they’re not at a competition or in daily practice with their dad, a former Division I college football player and football coach, or in school with their educator mom, Dylan, Reagan, Ryan and Nic also like to hunt, fish, play various instruments, travel and bake. Though Robert, who has cerebral palsy, does not compete, horses have been and continue to be a big part of his life, as he rides, bonds with the family’s animals, and eagerly attends his sibling’s competitions, including the Bullride Mania Finals Amateur Championship where Nic took the win earlier this month.

Nic was only 7 years old when he got on his first bull. At 13, he was named the 2020 Junior World Bull Riding Champion, making him the first ever in the Northeast to win. With goals of going pro, that was just the beginning for the now-14-year-old, who hopes to take home the title again at this year’s Junior World Finals in December.

“It’s a passion, you know, it’s a lifestyle. It’s just not something that we do. It goes … so far deep, deeper than just the competition,” Corey Jackson told “GMA,” adding that loving and taking care of the land and animals they cultivate is an integral part of their routine. “So when we’re not rodeoing, we’re talking about rodeo, we’re watching rodeo … we’re watching videos of the kids’ performances.”

“Now I can separate from it a little more,” Robyn Jackson added. “But I think the gist of it is we can do just about anything as a family. Whatever the activity is, we’re able to do it as one unit, and I really am thankful for that.”

Raphael Louis Hipos and Ebony Peeples contributed to this report.

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