They Were the First to Ride

It's A Wrapper Film


Graduate thesis from the California Institute of the Arts. This project was featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of a CalArts’ alumni retrospective.


They Were The First To Ride was one of my first Sportrait films narrating the history of eleven African American jockeys who won the Kentucky Derby from 1875 to 1902. Though rarely mentioned in horse racing history, these eleven men dominated the sport during a time of racial injustice and as a result, were later banned from riding altogether.

Like the gum wrappers from which I work, I find richness in the overlooked stories that are so integral to who we are today — socially conscious stories that continue to help us grow as Americans.

Here are some links to read more about the incredible history of black jockeys in America.