Triumph Over Racism

Trevor Gavin
Written by
Trevor Gavin
Partner | Creative Director

“I can’t change me. I wouldn’t if I could.”

You might think that building your own town, by yourself, deep in the desert of Arizona sounds like an impossible feat. But Ed Keeylocko did it, hauling materials in his pickup truck one load at a time.

“The difficult you’re supposed to do right away. The impossible, that’ll take you a few days longer,” he says.

As an infant, Ed Keeylocko was abandoned by his biological mother and left on a stranger’s doorstep. Growing up as an African American with red hair and “swamp green eyes,” Keeylocko grew up feeling different — a self proclaimed minority of minorities. “I can’t change me,” he says. “I wouldn’t if I could.”

Keeylocko purchased the land around Three Points Arizona around 1971, raising cattle on his ranch to be sold at the auction house in a neighboring town. But when nearby cattle ranchers refused to do business with him based on the color of his skin, Ed decided to take matters into his own hands.

“Whatever life gives you, you’ve got to play the cards.”

In December of 1974, Cowtown Keeylocko was founded. It is a western ranch town that embodies an odd mixture of the real and the fanciful. By 1989, the town expanded to having a mayor, citizens, its own zip code, five buildings, ten thousand acres of land, three ranch-hands and fifty heads of cattle. Ed Keeylocko’s aspiration is to live life simply and honestly, as a true cowboy. His town — his own version of paradise — was built around that idea.

“I tell people that Cowtown Keeylocko doesn’t choose who comes here,” he says. Known for chasing the border patrol off his property, Ed openly welcomes anyone into his town, regardless of race, color or citizenship. “That’s the real West.”
“I was a dreamer, I reckon I still am a dreamer and I don’t suppose that’s ever going to change,”

Keeylocko says. His most potent advice?

“Dream of things that never were.”

Watch the full Cowtown Keeylocko documentary here:

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