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
National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/fosm/historyculture/bass_reeves.htm
The Life and Times of Deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves: http://mentalfloss.com/article/33537/life-and-times-deputy-us-marshal-bass-reeves