The True Story of the Fletcher Street Riders in ‘Concrete Cowboy’

New Netflix film Concrete Cowboy presents cowboys and horses in a different setting that the traditional Hollywood Western. The movie follows 15-year-old Cole, played by Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin, who’s sent to live with his estranged father Harp (Idris Elba) in North Philadelphia after getting expelled from his high-school in Detroit. Harp is an urban cowboy, a member of a collective of horse-riders who have built stables in a city warehouse and graze their horses in a vacant grass lot among Philly row-houses and apartment buildings.

While Concrete Cowboy itself is fiction—it’s based on Greg Neri’s YA novel Ghetto Cowboy—the film is heavily inspired by the real-life riders of North Philly. Both the novel and film took inspiration from the Fletcher Street Riders, a community of Black horse-riders throughout North Philadelphia. The film takes inspiration from the overall Fletcher Street riding community, rather than one specific club or rider. Concrete Cowboy‘s writer-director Ricky Staub spent two years visiting the stables and getting to know riders from the Fletcher Street community before writing the script, and cast some real-life riders in the film.

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