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