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    Concrete Cowboy Real Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club


    If the movie Concrete Cowboy had you in awe of bonafide buckaroos in the middle of Philadelphia, you’re not alone!


    Jessica Kourkounis / Netflix / Everett Collection

    The unique horse-based home of characters like Harp (played by Idris Elba) and Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) had me wanting to see what the real-life Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club is all about.


    Timothy A. Clary / Getty Images

    Founded by Ellis Ferrell in 2004, the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club maintains a 100-year+ tradition of Urban Black Cowboys.


    Getty Images

    Its current home is in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of North Philadephia.

    The club’s motto is “Building Character Through Quality Horsemanship,” and its mission is to offer positive outdoor recreation for the community.


    WNBA / Via giphy.com

    They engage “urban youth in equestrian sports while teaching life skills, instilling discipline and promoting academic excellence.”

    There is a rich history of Black Americans and horse culture starting from just after the Civil War.


    AdWeek / Via giphy.com

    This is when “being a cowboy was one of the few jobs open to men of color who wanted to not serve as elevator operators or delivery boys or other similar occupations,” according to author William Lorenz Katz.

    Life on horseback is a tradition upheld by today’s Philly riders.


    George Strait / Via giphy.com

    Many longtime actual riders appear in the film, including Jamil Prattis who plays Cole’s mentor Paris (his actual nickname), and Ivanna-Mercedes, aka Esha.

    The movie accurately portrays what it’s like for newbies to learn the ropes (which involves a lot of mucking stalls).


    Aaron Ricketts / Netflix / Everett Collection

    Ellis Ferrell says, “At the stables, the children clean the stalls, brush the horses and bathe them, and then they get a chance to ride them.”

    The scenes where cowfolks cozy up to a fire, having fun, and swapping stories are also plucked from real life.

    One thing Mr. Ferrell wants to clarify is that the story of Cole and Smush (played by Jarrel Jherome) is not based on his life.

    But a realistic part of the film is how misinformed outsiders often view the stables as a hostile environment for the animals.


    FEI Global / Via giphy.com

    Hop White, who owns the Fletcher Street facility shares that “a veterinarian comes every month to check the horses.” And Lee Cannady, an officer with the Philadelphia PD and a lifelong urban rider says, “We have a business license. We keep our horses looking good. We may not have the best facility, but we give them the best food money can buy and we love them.”

    Despite this, another accurate element of the film is how the stables are constantly threatened by gentrification.


    South Park / Via giphy.com

    Throughout the club’s history they’ve been forced to move and start from scratch several times.

    Even today the future of the Strawberry Mansion stables is uncertain as developers are seeking to build affordable housing for seniors on the land.


    Tabitha Roth / Getty Images

    Because of this, the folks behind the real-life Fletcher Street have started a GoFundMe so that fans of the film and their mission can help them secure a new location.

    They’ve already surpassed their goal (yay!) but every dollar earned will help keep Philly kids and adults riding off into many a sunset.


    Netflix / Everett Collection

    And that’s a scenario all of us can feel good about.

    If you loved Concrete Cowboy or have some heartening horse tales of your own let us know in the comments!

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