Monday, February 17, 2014

Black History Month: Bass Reeves, The Lone Ranger

July 1838 - January 12, 1910
"At 6 foot 2, 190 pounds, he was a sharp shooter who could handle a gun in both hands. He would gallop into a thicket full of dangerous outlaws and escape unharmed, his mustache still perfectly curled. It was a life worthy of a movie script." -NY Daily News
U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves was born into slavery in Crawford County, Alabama. However he would go on to escape slavery and live on the Indian reservations among the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole Indians. He acclimated himself to their culture and would learn to speak Muskogee. He later moved to Arkansas where he was hired to be a US Marshal due to his knowledge of Indian territories, culture, and language.  In his 32 years of service he reportedly was only shot once in his knee, he made appox. 3,000 arrests, most always had an Indian "sidekick" with him, was a "master of disguise", and was very skilled at using two guns at the same time. Bass Reeves was an extraordinary Marshal. Although illiterate, his skill and prowess were a key along with other US Marshals in America's westward expansion.

His life story sounds familiar to a famous show right?
The first ranger used a black mask to cover his entire face. Burton said that this, too, was no coincidence.
“Black people were invisible in the 1930s,” he said. “You couldn’t show a strong black man at that time in history. This would be kind of a backhanded tribute to a person who was black.”
The Lone Ranger first aired on radio in Detroit in 1933. The Lone Ranger in the story wore a black mask to cover his face. The story's original character was named Reid similar to Reeves, and followed all the legendary things Bass Reeves did. Many articles you try to find will question in the title "Was a black man The Lone Ranger?" or something along those lines. If you check the facts then it's easy to put two and two together. So maybe  Armie Hammer in the movie show should have been replaced by an actor like Wesley Snipes, Morgan Freeman, Denzel, or Will Smith.

Written by: E. Rey


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