[ Allan ]


Tells the seldom told story of the escaped slaves who found equal rights and racial justice west of the Mississippi River.

“Cross that River”
Allan Harris
Cross That River
2003 — The Seldom Told African American Story.
((( black cowboys )))


“Blue Was Angry”
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1850 — Born, imprisoned, and used like a machine on a north west Louisiana cotton plantation. He like all slaves was bought and sold as “property,” rather than cared for as a human beings.
Driven, nearly to death, Blue was an angry young man in 1850, and decided to make his escape across the fast moving Red River, into Texas, where he FOUND FREEDOM on The Chisholm Trail.



“Sleepy River”
Paul Roberson
1936 —

((( song )))


Cross That River follows the life of a young, rebellious slave on a Louisiana Cotton Plantation. Blue had been enslaved since birth, and after twenty years being owned by a sadistic farm owner who treated him as expendable property rather than a human being, Blue had decided to make a death-defying attempt to escape across the Red River, and Live a Free Life, West of the Mississippi.

On a blustery summer night, the full moon moved in and out of the clouds that were racing across the stormy sky. As the weather worsened, a young slave named “Blue” hid in the tall reeds on the bank of the Red River. The river that ran near the Louisiana cotton plantation where he had been enslaved since birth, and the only thing standing between him and Freedom In Texas.

Blue became part of the most often overlooked African American community —  A significant number of runaway slaves, rather than taking the Underground Railroad up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Kansas City, and Chicago, or east to New York City, chose to GO WEST, to the midwestern plains, where they were “free” to join any of the many cattle drives, earning equal pay, and a better life, regardless of the color of their skin. That is, as long as it wasn’t “native” red.

Many of the “Black” Cowboys earned fortune and fame, both as Banking and Business Tycoons, and heroic, Indian-killing Buffalo Soldiers — the United States Calvary, riding with General George Custer and all the other historic figures mentioned in America’s public schools.

Collectively, these pioneering African-Americans, made up a community that became known as The “Black” West.

In the decades to follow, Blue made himself a home, bought himself a wife, and killed more than his share of Indians as a Buffalo Soldier.

Buffalo Soldiers”
Allan Harris

Cross That River
2003 —
((( song )))



Buffalo Soldiers — Originally members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, the Buffalo Soldiers formed (September 21, 1866) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This nickname was given to the Black Cavalry by Native American tribes who fought in the Indian Wars. The name eventually came to represent all the African American regiments formed in 1866:


Riding Free on The Chisholm Trail

1880s — Nearly half the working cowboys in Oklahoma and Texas were free black men, many who had joined the U.S. Army’s Buffalo Soldiers (Negro Cavalry), and fought alongside the (White-Anglo) Army in its war against the “Indians” (Native Americans)from the upper plains to the southwestern desert United States of America.

After surviving a 19th Century filled with pain and suffering, Blue quietly retired, as so many do today, to Florida.


Take Me (Back) To The River

1853Texas Longhorns, driven to Missouri, were found to be carrying disease-ridden ticks, and entire herds had to be turned away.

Cattle Rustling, vigilantism, and violence were also problems, and by 1859, driving cattle was outlawed in much of Missouri.

By the end of the Civil War, most cattle were being moved up the western branch of The Trail at Red River Station in Montague County, Texas.

1860  The (Wild) American West of 1860 provided a new beginning for Blue, and the other escaped slaves who chose to continue west after crossing the Mississippi, instead of north to New York and Chicago. 

“Cross That River” is Allan Harris and Love Productions Theatrical presentation of Blue’s adventurous (African American) story.

Through voice and song, Allan integrates historical fact and colorful lore to tell an often overlooked story, an important chapter in the fight for Civil Rights and Equal Justice in The United States Of America.

The Wild Wild (Black) West

After his successful escape, and crossing of the Red River, Blue quickly found work (as a cowboy) on a cattle drive between San Antonio and Abilene, Texas … and later, Blue planted the roots of his new life in Kansas City, Kansas, where a community of Black Cowboys thrived.

Texas ranchers driving their cattle on The Chisholm Trail started from either the Rio Grande or San Antonio, and joined the Chisholm Trail at the border between Texas and Oklahoma, the Red River of the South.
From there, they continued to the railhead of the Kansas Pacific Railway in Abilene, Kansas, where the cattle were sold and shipped eastward.
The Trail is named for Jesse Chisholm, a half-Cherokee trader from Tennessee, who originally created the trail to transport his goods from one trading post to another.


1866 — Because The Civil War restricted access to The Trail, their was a tremendous overstock of cattle in Texas, where the cattle were worth $4 per head, compared to more than $40 per head in the hard-to-reach North and East of America.

1867Joseph G. McCoy encouraged Texans to drive their cattle to his new stockyards in  Abilene, Kansas. They responded, and in that first year, McCoy shipped 35,000 head, and became the largest stockyards west of Kansas City, Kansas.

O. W. Wheeler was one of those Texas ranchers who answered McCoy’s call. He and his partners drove 2,400 steers on The Chisholm Trail, from Texas to Abilene.

Wheeler’s herd was the first of an estimated 5,000,000 head of Texas cattle to reach Kansas over The Chisholm Trail.

The construction of the Union Pacific Railway through Nebraska eventually offered a cattle drive destination which was an attractive alternative to the Kansas Pacific Railroad, and the Texas Trail emerged as an alternative to the Chisholm Trail. Between 1876 and 1884 some drives took the Texas Trail instead of the Chisholm Trail.


Cry of the Thunderbird
b/ Allan Harris Cross That River


n “The Bridge”


“Somewhere Down Crazy River”
Robbie Robertson Robbie Robertson
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