Photo: Lauren Jeziorski
In February of 2018, then Michigan State University sophomore, Khalilah Smith, became the first Black woman to be named MSU’s Rodeo Queen. As a result of earning that title, Smith, who is currently a junior in college, is gearing up to compete in the National Miss Rodeo USA competition that will take place in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma between January 15-19.
The Detroit, Michigan native began riding horses at the age of 10. Once she began to ride competitively, she was often the only African American woman. However, that didn't keep her from exuding Black Girl Magic during competitions. She remains focused and motivated knowing that once young Black girls see her, they too, might see themselves and take an interest in the sport.
"Little kids get to see me and this one girl even cried because she had never seen a Black rodeo queen before, Smith shared with Fox 2 News. "Everyone’s around me because they’re like, ‘We’ve never seen this; we’re so happy you’re doing it. We need people like you to actually go up there and do the things you’re doing.'”
As the only African American competitor in this year’s competition and with no Black woman having ever won this particular competition, Smith, who dreams of becoming an exotic animal veterinarian one day, may soon be able to add yet another "first" to her riding résumé.
You can support Khalilah's as she competes for the title of Miss Rodeo USA by casting your vote here.