Tracy Thompson was a homesteader in Arimo before moving to Pocatello in 1919. He worked on the railroads during the winter months, and rode the rodeo circuit during the summer. He was one of a handful of African Americans to make his mark in rodeo history. He died in a bronc riding accident in Bozeman, Montana in 1930, when his foot got caught in a stirrup. I found one oblique reference that called that accident “suspicious.”
Several sources had that much information. Interesting, but not quite enough to make a story. Then it occurred to me that Thompson was only the beginning of the story.
Tracy Thompson was the father of Idaho civil rights activist Idaho Purce. Idaho Purce is the matriarch of a family of five accomplished siblings, including Les Purce, who in 1973 at age 27, became the first black elected official in Idaho, serving on the Pocatello City Council. He served as mayor of Pocatello in 1976 and 1977. Purce served as director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the Idaho Department of Administration under Governor John Evans. After his government service, Dr. Purce became vice president of Extended University Affairs and Dean of Extended Academic Programs at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. He then served as president of Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington from 2000 to 2015.
So, the legacy of bronc rider Tracy Thompson lasted a lot more than eight seconds.