By Matthew Ponsford, for CNN
(CNN) - Jason Griffin straps his right arm in bandages, preparing himself to grip the reins a wildly bucking bronco. Tall, broad-shouldered, with a rough beard, he steps into his cowboy boots, fits a Stetson hat and heads out to meet his mount in the rodeo arena.
Griffin is a four-time world champion bareback bucking horse rider - competing in a sport that began in the 19th century heyday of the Wild West.
With each victory - he has also won three all-round rodeo championships - the Texan raises awareness of a strong tradition which is rarely seen in the many novels, films and television series dedicated to the tales of the old West: The historic story of America's black cowboys.
On cinema screens and paperback covers, the cowboys of old were heroic, hard-bitten and - almost always - white.
In reality, the American West of the 1800s was traversed by an assortment of black, white, Mexican and Native American cattle hands. Contemporary records are rare but historians now estimate that up to one in four Texan cowboys was African American, while the number of Mexican cowboys was even greater.
Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."
By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - If you took a moment during the heat of the presidential race to drop by the Mitt Romney campaign office, you would have been shocked by the number of white people working to get him elected. About the only color you would have seen were the red and white in the Romney-Ryan posters.
If you met with Romney's senior campaign team - the decision makers - you would have said major corporations in America have more diversity on their boards of directors than these guys.
At a Romney campaign event, followers of mine on Twitter always played the "do-you-know-that-one-black-person-who-is-always-standing-behind-Mitt-with-a-sign" game. Seriously. Seeing someone black, Hispanic or Asian at a Romney campaign rally was always a sight to behold.
So why in the world is Mitt Romney now largely blaming minorities for the butt-kicking administered to him by President Obama?
By Ashley Killough and Kevin Bohn, CNN
(CNN) – Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana fiercely shot back at Mitt Romney’s claim Wednesday that President Barack Obama outmatched the 2012 Republican presidential nominee by offering "gifts" to African-Americans, Hispanics and young voters.
“I absolutely reject that notion,” Jindal, who was a surrogate for Romney’s campaign, said at the Republican Governors Association conference in Las Vegas. “I think that's absolutely wrong.”
“I don't think that represents where we are as a party and where we're going as a party,” he continued. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election.”
Romney made the comments on a call with top donors Wednesday afternoon, various news outlets have reported. The former Massachusetts governor also made similar arguments on a separate call earlier in the morning, CNN confirmed.
"What the president, president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote," Romney said in the afternoon call, according to audio aired on ABC News.
Romney, who lost to Obama by 126 electoral votes, said the president courted voters by offering policies – some of them this election year – that appealed to key constituencies.
"With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift," Romney said, according to The New York Times.
"Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women," he continued. "And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."
The president's health care reform plan, he added, also brought out support from African Americans and Hispanic voters.
By Moni Basu, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) - On the cinder-block wall in the manager's office of the Adamsville Natatorium are photos of two heroes: Martin Luther King Jr. and Sabir Muhammad.
Here, at this pool in a predominantly black neighborhood of southwest Atlanta, it's easy to see why Muhammad, 36, looms large.
He was the first black swimmer to set an American record. He broke U.S. short-course records in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and finished his swimming career with seven Pac-10 championships titles, 25 All-American honors and three NCAA, U.S. Open and American records.
But perhaps more importantly, Muhammad helped shatter a myth that black people couldn't swim. FULL POST
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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