Most know Taylor Hearn as a Major League Baseball pitcher with the Texas Rangers. But what most don’t know about the 28-year-old lefty is that he’s also a cowboy; who continues to push for diversity in MLB, which has been in part inspired by his role as a third generation Black cowboy.

It began with his grandfather, Cleo Hearn, the first Black cowboy on the rodeo circuit who attended Oklahoma State on a rodeo scholarship. Soon after, Hearn’s father and uncles followed suit and competed on the rodeo circuit.

“Next thing I know, I found myself competing as well,” Taylor Hearn says.

Throughout our country, there’s an increasing conversation as to the historical context and relevance placed on certain aspects of Black history. You have some who are quick to debate the value and importance of events of today as being necessary fabric woven into the overall blanket coverage of Black history.

And then there are politicians angling to score points with their base seeking to legislate Black history out of the classroom due in part to it making some folks —ok, white folks —uncomfortable.

Sadly, this is a movie trailer that Black folks have seen time and time again. Try as some may, the efforts to whitewash Black history won’t work.

Because folks like Taylor Hearn provide present-day-truths that push back on the easily-peddled false narratives that often neglect, ignore or disregard the positive roles and impact of Black folks historically in this country.

Along with competing in rodeo competitions, Hearn did the usual sports circuit of football, basketball and baseball before narrowing his focus to just two sports—rodeo and baseball. Being around rodeos taught him the importance of being comfortable with who you are, regardless of your circumstances or surroundings.

He also recalled learning early on the importance of dedication and commitment to whatever you are doing, if you truly wanted to be elite.

“Probably the biggest thing I picked up, just making the transition to baseball,” Hearn shares, “was that no matter how many times I throw a good bullpen or no matter how many times we would sit there and rope calves in the pen, you don’t know what you are going to draw.”

But what you do know, is that there are factors that you have the final say in, which is where your focus needs to lie.

“Controlling what you can control and learn how to not get too ahead of yourself. And that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Rodeo taught me a lot, just a way of life and not that many Black people rodeo as well, so it was another way of me experiencing stuff early on...”

The kind of stuff that would help his journey in the major leagues, which, like rodeo, doesn’t feature a significant number of Black participants.

But just like rodeos and Black cowboys, Hearn is doing what he can do to raise awareness about both being safe places for Blacks to venture into. And while the numbers for both sports are not great now, he knows all too well that the history of Blacks in both sports is much richer than many in this generation fully understand and appreciate.

This is especially true when it comes to Black cowboys, a segment of our history that doesn’t get nearly as much attention paid to it, considering the contributions made. Hollywood has created images and a narrative about cowboys that’s not rooted in the reality of its role in society. If you didn’t know better - and you should know better even if mainstream media suggests otherwise - Black cowboys were an integral part of society.

Heck, the most famous fiction cowboy of them all is the Lone Ranger. Guess who his character was based upon? Yes, a Black man named Bass Reeves.

Reeves was born a slave, but eventually escaped and headed out West, where he became a Deputy U.S. Marshal who was known as a master of disguise. He also rode a silver horse, was an excellent marksman and had a Native American companion working with him.

Sounds familiar, huh?

His story, much like the story of Hearn’s Black cowboy ancestors, is one seldom acknowledged, let alone talked about when it comes to the contributions made by Blacks historically.

But those stories will never die; not as long as athletes like Taylor Hearn continue to come along, reminding us of the power of the past and its potential to propel future generations.