Bass Reeves, one of the first African Americans to become a Deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi River, could have been an inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s fictional character Django.
Reeves, who was born a slave, arrested 3,000 felons, killed 14 men and was never shot throughout his 32-year career as a federal lawman.
The fearless solider was born into slavery in 1838 in Crawford County, Arkansas, and eventually broke from his owner, George Reeves, to live among the Creek and Seminole Indians.
During his time with them, he learned their customs and languages and became an adept territorial scout.
Reeves later procured his own land in Van Buren, Arkansas, where he married his wife, Nellie Jennie, built an eight-room house with his bare hands, and raised ten children as the first black settler in the region.
He became a Deputy U.S. Marshal in 1875 at the age of 38, after ‘Hanging Judge’ Isaac C. Parker was made the federal judge of Indian Territory. Under President Ulysses S. Grant, Parker appointed Confederate Army General James Fagan a U.S. Marshal and ordered him to hire 200 deputies. Among them was Reeves.
Fagan knew of the former slave, his ability to negotiate Indian Territory and his ability to speak their languages, and so Reeves was named the first black Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi.
In that role he was authorized to arrest both black and white outlaws.
French film actor Omar Sy in the June 2014 issue of French Vanity Fair
Poet and novelist Sam Greenlee has died in Chicago at the age of 83.
Greenlee was best known for his 1969 novel “The Spook Who Sat by the Door,” later adapted into a political drama movie. Close friend and cast member in the movie, Pemon Rami, says Greenlee died early Monday.
Greenlee was one of the first African Americans to join the U.S. foreign service. From 1957-1965, he worked for the U.S. Information Agency, serving in Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia and Greece.
"The Spook Who Sat by the Door" tells the story of a black CIA agent who becomes a revolutionary training young Chicago blacks for a violent rebellion. His other works include "Baghdad Blues," in which he describes witnessing the 1958 revolution that brought down Iraq’s British-backed monarchy.
Images: Times Union, Nov. 8, 1973, Chicago
"My greatest struggle is trying to support my mom and sisters back in Jamaica. I try to send money back every month, but sometimes I just can’t do it after I’ve paid my bills. They really depend on the money, because my stepfather is a farmer and a lot of times the crops aren’t good. A lot of people back home think that money comes easy in America. They don’t know how hard it is."
‘And last, my mom. I don’t think you know what you did. You had my brother when you were 18 years old. Three years later, I came out. The odds were stacked against us, single parent with two boys by the time you were 21 years old. Everybody told us we weren’t supposed to be here. We moved from apartment to apartment by ourselves. One of the best memories I have is when we moved into our first apartment, no bed, no furniture and we just all sat in the living room and just hugged each other because we thought we made it.’
‘When something good happens to you, I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to look back to what brought me here. And you wake me up in the middle night in the summertime, making me run up the hill, making me do push-ups, screaming at me from the sidelines at my games at 8 or 9 years old. We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe, you kept us off the street, put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry, you sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.’