Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Hero All Year

Black History month is a great time to discover and celebrate black heroes. I would argue that all year long is a great time to celebrate people like Bass Reeves.

BAD NEWS FOR OUTLAWS: The remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall.
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda Books, 2009

To Deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves, right and wrong were clear and simple. Duty was his guide. A big man physically, his character was bigger. Reeves was hired by Judge Isaac C. Parker, known as the hanging judge, to tame the lawless territory that became his home when he escaped slavery before the Civil War. Parker hired 200 deputy marshals to track down outlaws in an area bigger than Oklahoma. When Oklahoma became a state, Reeves became a policeman in Muskogee, OK. By then, he was almost 70 and walked with a cane. However, not a single crime occurred in his patrol area during the two years he was on the job.

In his career, Bass Reeves arrested more than 3000 men and women including blacks, whites, Indians, even his own son. He was never wounded and killed only 14 men in the line of duty.

To further appreciate this unsung hero, the author has provided a glossary, time line, additional historical articles, and suggestions for further reading. Bass Reeves was a true champion of the American West.

If you’re weathered in this weekend, pick a spot close to the fire and read about Bass Reeves in the Old West. Listen! Is that a wolf howling in the distance?

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