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National Rodeo Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2022
Cleo L. Hearn

Cleo L. Hearn


Calf Roping, Team Roping, Steer Roping

Cleo Hearn was born May 3, 1939, in Seminole, Oklahoma, to an African American mother and Seminole father. He was a calf-, team- and steer-roper beginning in 1955 at age 16. Hearn joined the RCA in 1959 and was the first African American to win the calf (tie down) roping at a major rodeo when he won at the Denver National Western Stock Show & Rodeo in 1970. The first African American to attend college on a rodeo scholarship, Hearn was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1961 and was a member of the Presidential Honor Guard. In 1971, Hearn began producing the Texas Black Rodeo, changing the name in 1995 to Cowboys of Color Rodeo to be more inclusive of all cultures, including both contestants and audience members. Hearn retired from competition in 2017. His honors include: NFR’s 2016 Lane Frost Award; Frontier Times Museum inductee; Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame; Texas Trail of Fame in the Fort Worth Stockyards; and Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. He has been recognized with the Cleo Hearn Equestrian Trail at Bear Creek Nature Park in his hometown of Lancaster, Texas. Hearn has enjoyed a 33-year career with Ford Motor Company in sales and marketing.

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