In North Philadelphia, a thriving community of Black cowboys has existed for over a century. The Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club is a century-long tradition of Urban Black Cowboys in the “City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection” who are committed to providing horsemanship experience in the inner-city. These Black urban cowboys and cowgirls have developed counterculture in Philadelphia, where horsemen maintain and care for horses and teach neighborhood youth to do so. The story of this community and their struggle against racism and gentrification is now the subject of a new Netflix film, Concrete Cowboy (out on April 2nd).
Adapted from Gregory Neri’s 2009 novel Ghetto Cowboy, Concrete Cowboy follows a troubled 15-year-old named Cole (Caleb Mclaughlin) who’s sent by his mother Nessie (Lorraine Toussaint) to live with his estranged father, Harp (Idris Elba) in North Philadelphia. While trying to repair their strained relationship, he discovers the world of urban horseback riding and a community that embraces him. The film also stars Jharrel Jerome (who plays Cole’s tough cousin Smush) and Clifford “Method Man” Smith (who plays local police officer Leroy.) Filmmaker Ricky Staub makes his feature-length debut as director and Philly-native Lee Daniels, along with Elba, are producers on the film.
We recently got the chance to speak with the cast of Concrete Cowboy: Idris Elba, Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrel Jerome, Lorraine Toussaint, and Method Man. They talked about the history and future of Black cowboys and cowgirls, what the Fletcher Street club taught them about life, and finding community in an unlikely place.