Orange honors Gobert, cowboys, Bellfield

Published 12:32 pm Thursday, July 26, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Orange Mayor Larry Spears Jr. proclaimed Sunday, July 29, 2018 as Michael Christian Gobert Day. He also proclaimed Saturday, July 28, 2018 as National Day of the Cowboy.

The council also approved renaming the Orange Community Center to Essie L. Bellfield Orange Community Center. Council member Annette Pernell initiated the renaming of the building.

Pernell said she had been told a building should not be named after a living person.

“If you are going to give me a rose, don’t wait until I am gone. Give it to me while I can enjoy it,” Pernell said. “Ms. Bellfield was paving the way so I can sit here.”

Bellfield was the first black and the first female mayor in Orange.

Bellfield has fought for civil rights and encourages people of all ages to become more involved in the government and to exercise their right to vote. She is often found handing out voter registration cards at events.

Michael Christian Gobert died unexpectedly in March 2018 while in Houston.

Gobert was a 2017 graduate of West Orange –Stark High School and was freshman at Texas Southern University majoring in Computer Science.

He had a zest for life and was always positive and optimistic no matter what obstacles he faced, according to the proclamation read by Spears.

The community felt his loss as evident by the numerous people attending the Tuesday evening council meeting. When citizens ran out seats, people started sitting on the steps in the aisles.

Stark Museum of Art is hosting Stories from Cowboys of Color: An Afternoon with Don Russell, Cleo Hearn, Myrtis Dightman, Bailey “The Prairie Kid,” and Jason Griffin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 28, 2018.  The event will feature a panel discussion from 2 p.m. -3 p.m. and will be followed with a reception and book signing.

The panel discussion will provide guests with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the history of the Cowboys of Color Rodeo and the photography project by Don Russell from the actual artist and athletes. Special guests for the event are artist Don Russell; Founder of the Cowboys of Color Rodeo and Champion Calf Roper Cleo Hearn; Champion Bull RiderMyrtis Dightman;Champion Bareback Rider, Saddle Bronc Rider, Steer Wrestler, Bull RiderBailey “The Prairie Kid;” and Champion Bareback Bronc Rider Jason Griffin. Each of the rodeo athletes participating in the panel is featured in the special exhibition Portraits from Cowboys of Color: Photographs by Don Russell on view at the Stark Museum of Art through Saturday, September 29, 2018.

The State of Texas, through Senate Bill 1522 signed by Governor Greg Abbott, has designated the fourth Saturday in July as National Day of the Cowboy in recognition of the historic, cultural, and social contributions of the cowboy, according to the proclamation issued by the city of Orange.

“I am an old cowboy myself,” Henry Lowe, of Orange, said. “I think it is fantastic the Stark Museum of Art exhibit. Thank you for doing that.”

Lowe added after the Civil War the only jobs for young black men and Mexicans was driving cattle.