Bad News for Outlaws



During Black History Month, I like to learn about relatively unknown African Americans, some who may be called “unsung heroes.” One such person was Bass Reeves, an African American Deputy U.S. Marshall.  Thanks to award winning author, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, and award winning illustrator, R. Gregory Christie, together they created the book, Bad News for Outlaws The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshall. This title is available in hardcover library binding, Kindle, audible, and paperback.m

Bass Reeves was born into slavery in 1838.  Although he had a tough life, he had a strong sense of right and wrong that many people admired.  The Indian Territory was a haven for many outlaws.  When Judge Isaac Parker tried to bring order to this territory, he chose Bass to be a deputy U.S. marshal.  Bass proved to be the best man for the job.

Bass worked more than thirty years capturing more than 3000 outlaws.  His techniques were cunning, respectful, and peaceful.  Violence was Bass’ last resort.  As a result of Bass’ techniques, he killed only 14 men in the line of duty.  To read how he accomplish this, you must read the book.

Nelson’s thorough research of Bass Reeves’ and her storytelling skills is evident at the beginning of the story.  Readers will immediately be drawn into the story when they read the first sentence: “Jim Webb’s luck was running muddy when Bass Reeves rode into town.” Christie’s illustration on the next page captures the fear on Jim Webb’s face, and the quiet, solemn demeanor of Bass Reeves chasing him.  Young readers will recognize  the themes of justice and fairness,  and love the large images of Big Bad Bass Reeves and also the fine attention to details.  Once you read this story, you will love it too and include it in your collection.

Additional resources, both print and electronic, on Bass Reeves are listed below.

Burton, Art T., Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves

Paulsen, Gary., The Legend of Bass Reeves 

NPR: Bad News for Outlaws


National Park Service:

Times New Record:

The Life and Times of Deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves:


The Brown Bookshelf 28 Days Later Day 28: Higgins Bond

Higgins Bond, the illustrator of the Great Kings and Queens of Africa collection, is highlighted today on the last day of the 28 Days Later.  It is only fitting that the last day feature a trailblazer and an award winning artist.  For more information about her journey, read here.

February 28 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – February 28 *

1704 – A school for African Americans is opened in New York City by
Elias Neau, a Frenchman.

1708 – A slave revolt occurs in Newton, Long Island in New York State.
Seven whites are killed. Two African American male slaves and
an Indian slave are hanged, and an African American woman is
burned alive.

1776 – George Washington, in his letter of acknowledgment to Phyllis
Wheatley for a poem she wrote for his birthday, says, “I thank
you most sincerely for…the elegant line you enclosed…the
style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your poetic

1778 – Rhode Island General Assembly in precedent-breaking act
authorizes the enlistment of slaves.

1784 – Phyllis Wheatley, poet, joins the ancestors.

1854 – Some 50 slavery opponents meet in Ripon, Wisconsin, to call for
the creation of a new political group, which will become the
Republican Party.

1859 – Arkansas legislature requires free African Americans to choose
between exile and enslavement.

1871 – Second Enforcement Act gave federal officers and courts control
of registration and voting in congressional elections.

1942 – Riots against African Americans occur in Detroit, Michigan at
the Sojourner Truth Homes.

1943 – “Porgy and Bess” opens on Broadway with Anne Brown and Todd
Duncan in starring roles.

1945 – Charles “Bubba” Smith is born in Beaumont, Texas. He will
become a professional football player with the Baltimore
Colts, Oakland Raiders and the Houston Oilers. After a
successful football career, he will become an actor in the
“Police Academy” series. He also will become the president and
CEO of Vital Aircraft Company, which solicits the Department
of Defense for government contracts. To illustrate his
enduring interest in education and work with children, he will
endow an engineering scholarship at his alma mater, Michigan
State University.

1956 – Adrian Dantley is born. He will become a professional
basketball player and star with the Utah Jazz. He will be
their top scorer in 1981 and 1984.

1962 – Rae Dawn Chong is born in Edmonton, Alberta. She will become
an actress in movies like “Quest for Fire.”

1967 – Wilt Chamberlain sets a NBA record with his 35th consecutive
field goal.

1968 – Frankie Lymon, a Rock and Roll singer who became a star with
his teenage group, “The Teenagers,” joins the ancestors at
the age of 25 after a drug overdose.

1977 – Eddie “Rochester” Anderson joins the ancestors at the age of
71. Born in Oakland, California, to a theatrical family,
Anderson’s guest appearance in a 1937 Jack Benny Easter show
grew to be a 30-year career on the popular radio, and later
television, program.

1984 – Singer Michael Jackson wins eight Grammy Awards in Los Angeles,
breaking the previous record of six awards won by a single
artist in 1965. Jackson’s awards stem from his album
“Thriller,” which became the biggest selling record of all
time with 35 million copies sold since its release in 1982.

1991 – “The Content of our Character,” the controversial book on
affirmative action and race relations by Shelby Steele, wins
the National Book Critics Circle Award.

1998 – Todd Duncan joins the ancestors at his home in Washington, DC,
at the age 95. His ascension is on the fifty-fifth
anniversary of his starring role in the Broadway opening of
“Porgy and Bess.”

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.

February 27 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – February 27 *

1844 – The Dominican Republic gains its independence from Haiti, which
had occupied the whole island of Hispaniola since 1822. Prior
to Haitian rule, France had administered the eastern part of
the island starting in 1795, when Spain ceded the territory to
France. The leader of Dominican independence against Haiti
was Juan Pablo Duarte.

1869 – John Willis Menard, the first African American elected to
Congress (1868) is never seated. When he pleads his own
case before the House of Representatives, he becomes the first
African American to speak on the floor of the House.

1872 – Charlotte Ray graduates from Howard Law School in Washington,
DC. She will become the first African American woman lawyer
in the United States and the third woman admitted to the bar
to practice law (April 23, 1872).

1897 – Marian Anderson is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She
will become the first modern African American to win
international renown as an opera singer and will be
considered one of the great operatic voices of the
century. Singing at a time of great social upheaval for
African Americans, Anderson’s professional career will
contain many operatic and civil rights milestones and
recognition, including Kennedy Center Honors in 1978. The
Kennedy Center will hold a gala in observance of the 100th
anniversary of her birth in 1997. Many sources, including
the “Encyclopedia Britannica” and “Africana” have her
birth year as 1902 or 1900. In a Kennedy Center interview
with her nephew (with whom she lived until her death), he
indicated that when she became the first African American to
sing a principal role with the Metropolitan Opera, her
publicist thought her age should be reduced by five years.
The media therefore, establishes her birth year erroneously
as 1902.

1942 – Charlayne Hunter is born in Due West, South Carolina. One of
the first students to integrate the University of Georgia,
Charlayne Hunter-Gault will become a print and broadcast
journalist and win two Emmy awards for her work on public
TV’s “The MacNeil/Lehrer News-Hour.”

1961 – James Worthy is born in Gastonia, North Carolina. He will
become a starting forward for the Los Angeles Lakers. He will
be selected as the 1988 NBA Playoff Most Valuable Player. He
will play with three NBA championship Laker teams(1985,
1987, 1988).

1967 – Antigua & St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla become associated
states of the United Kingdom.

1967 – Dominica gains its independence from England.

1988 – Debi Thomas, a world-class figure skater, wins a bronze medal
in the Winter Olympic Games in Calgary. She will be the
first and only African American, until 2002, to win a medal in
the Winter Games.

1992 – Eldrick “Tiger” Woods is the youngest amateur golfer in 35
years to play in a PGA tournament when he tees off at the Los
Angeles Open at the age of 16.

1999 – The Rev. Henry Lyons, president of the National Baptist
Convention USA, is convicted in Largo, Florida, of swindling
millions of dollars from companies seeking to do business with
his followers.

1999 – Nigerians vote to elect Olusegun Obasanjo their new president,
as the country marks the final phase of its return to

2013 – Richard Street, former member of the Motown group, “The
Temptations”, joins the ancestors at the age of 70, succumbing
to a pulmonary embolism. He was a member of the group from 1971
to 1993.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry,

February 26 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – February 26 *

1844 – James Edward O’Hara is born in New York City to an Irish
merchant and a West Indian woman. He will move to North
Carolina after completing his basic education. After studying
law at Howard University, he will be admitted to the North
Carolina bar and become a practicing attorney in Halifax
county and active in state politics. He will later become a
two-term United States Congressman from North Carolina, serving
in the forty-eighth and forty-ninth congress.

1870 – Wyatt Outlaw, Town Commissioner in Graham, North Carolina, joins
the ancestors after being executed (lynched) by the “White
Brotherhood,” The Ku Klux Klan. He was president of the
Alamance County Union League of America (an anti Ku Klux Klan
group), helped to establish the Republican party in North
Carolina and advocated establishing a school for African
Americans. The Klan will hang him from an oak tree near the
Alamance County Courthouse. Dozens of Klansmen will be arrested
for the murders of Outlaw and other African Americans in
Alamance and Caswell Counties. Many of the arrested men will
confess, but, despite protests by Governor William W. Holden,
a federal judge in Salisbury will order them released.

1926 – Dr. Carter G. Woodson starts Negro History Week. This week
will be expanded to Black History Month in 1976.

1926 – Theodore “Tiger”(The Georgia Deacon) Flowers becomes the first
African American middleweight champion of the world. He will
defeat Harry Greb in fifteen rounds to win the title in New
York City.

1928 – Antoine “Fats” Domino is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He
will be a pioneering Rhythm & Blues pianist whose hits will
include “Ain’t That A Shame” and “Blueberry Hill.”

1930 – “The Green Pastures” opens on Broadway at the Mansfield Theater
with Richard B. Harrison as “De Lawd.”

1946 – A race riot in Columbia, Tennessee results in two deaths and
ten injured persons.

1964 – Boxer Cassius Clay converts to Islam, adopting the name
Muhammad Ali, saying, “I believe in the religion of
Islam…believe in Allah and peace…”

1965 – During civil rights demonstrations in Selma, Alabama, that were
designed to get the attention of the Johnson administration in
Washington, DC, police violence erupts against the marchers.
In an effort to protect his mother from a beating, 26 year old
Jimmie Lee Jackson strikes a police officer. He will join the
ancestors after being shot and killed. Civil rights activists,
outraged by his death, will plan a march from the Edmund Pettus
Bridge in Selma to Montgomery.

1966 – Andrew Brimmer becomes the first African American governor of
the Federal Reserve Board when he is appointed by President
Lyndon B. Johnson.

1984 – Rev. Jesse Jackson acknowledges that he referred to New York
City as “Hymietown.”

1985 – At the 27th Grammy Awards, Best Album of the Year for “Can’t
Slow Down”, is presented to Lionel Richie. Tina Turner is a
big winner with Best Song, Best Record and Best Pop Vocal
Performance by a Female for “What’s Love Got to Do with It.”

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.J

February 25 African American Historical Events

Today in Black History – February 25 *

1867 – Tennessee Gov. William Gannaway Brownlow issues a proclamation
warning that the unlawful events of the Ku Klux Klan “must and
SHALL cease” and that militia would be immediately organized
against the organization. This is in response to Ku Klux Klan
activities in a nine county area. The Klan’s aim is to
reverse the interlocking changes sweeping over the South
during the Reconstruction: to destroy the Republican’s party’s
infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish
control of the black labor force, and restore racial
subordination in every aspect of Southern life. (Editor’s Note:
The KKK was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee on December 15, 1865)

1870 – Hiram Rhodes Revels of Mississippi becomes the first African
American Senator. He is elected by the Mississippi legislature
to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jefferson Davis. After the
Senate term expires, he will become the first President of
Alcorn A&M College, in Lorman, Mississippi (the first African
American land-grant institution in the United States).

1948 – Martin Luther King, Jr. is ordained as a Baptist minister.
After graduating from Morehouse College in June, 1948, he will
enter the Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania.

1964 – Twenty-two year old Cassius Clay becomes world heavyweight
boxing champion when he defeats Sonny Liston in Miami, Florida.
The feared Liston is the favorite, but Clay predicts he will
“float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Soon after his
victory, Clay will assume his Muslim name of Muhammad Ali. He
will be considered by many, the greatest heavyweight champion
of all time.

1978 – Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. joins the ancestors at the age of
58 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. James was an early graduate
of the Tuskegee Institute Flying School and flew more than 100
missions during the Korean War. He was the first African
American to achieve the rank of four-star general.

1980 – Robert E. Hayden, African American poet and former poetry
consultant to the Library of Congress, joins the ancestors in
Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hayden’s most notable works include
“Words in Mourning Time and Angle of Ascent: New and Selected

1991 – Adrienne Mitchell becomes the first African American woman to
die in a combat zone in the Persian Gulf War when she joins
the ancestors after being killed in her military barracks in
Dharan, Saudi Arabia.

1992 – Natalie Cole, Patti LaBelle, Lisa Fischer, Luther Vandross,
B.B. King, Boyz II Men, and James Brown, among others, win
Grammy awards in ceremonies hosted by Whoopi Goldberg.

1999 – A jury in Jasper, Texas, sentences white supremacist John
William King to death for chaining James Byrd Jr., an African
American man, to a pickup truck and dragging him to pieces.

2000 – The killers of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo, four
white New York police officers, are acquitted of all charges
by a jury in Albany, New York. Diallo had been fired upon 41
times, with 19 shots hitting him while holding only his wallet
in the vestibule of his own home.

Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Rene’ A. Perry.