Black History: Did You Know Bass Reeves Was The Real Lone Ranger

220px-Bass_ReevesHistory and the authors of His-Story have differed dramatically throughout time to anything close to reality or truth. In other words, His-Story is nothing more than pure fabrications and downright lies. Let me be blunt and call it what it is; Damn Lies!

Particularly, when it comes to movies “they” say tell as truth about anything that involves black life or black people. I need not remind you but there are more than a few false images that are so obvious that anyone can see there is little truth contained in the story; for example, Cleopatra, Moses, the Ten Commandments and for that matter the story of Jesus, etc. Of course, they have an answer; they call those lies – literary privilege – I call it white privilege.

One such story involves the tale of the “Lone Ranger”! As it turns out, he was a black man named Bass Reeves, who the legend of a white man roaming the west on a white horse fighting crime was based on; yes – a black man. Perhaps not surprisingly, many aspects of Bass’ life were written out of the story, most notably his ethnicity. The basics remained the same: a lawman hunting bad guys, accompanied by a Native American, riding on a white horse, and with a silver trademark.

Reeves was born into slavery in 1838 in Arkansas and named Bass Reeves by his owner an Arkansas state legislator named William Steele Reeves. When Bass Reeves was about eight William Reeves moved to Texas near Sherman in what was known as the Peters Colony. Some accounts say he may have also served Colonel George Reeves, the son of William Reeves, as a slave as well. It was during the Civil War when Bass parted company with George Reeves.

Reeves took the chaos that ensued during the Civil War to escape to freedom, after beating his “master” within an inch of his life, or according to some sources, to death. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this escape was that Reeves only beat his enslaver after the latter lost sorely at a game of cards with Reeves and attacked him. After successfully defending himself from this attack, he knew that there was no way he would be allowed to live if he stuck around. Reeves fled to the then Indian Territory of today’s Oklahoma and lived harmoniously among the Seminole and Creek Nations of Native American Indians.

After the Civil War finally concluded, he married and eventually fathered ten children, making his living as a Deputy U.S. Marshall in Arkansas and the Indian Territory. If this surprises you, and it should, as Reeves was the first African American ever to hold such a position. Burton explains that it was at this point that the Lone Ranger story comes into play. Reeves was described as a “master of disguises”. He used these disguises to track down wanted criminals, even adopting similar ways of dressing and mannerisms to meet and fit in with the fugitives, in order to identify them.

Reeves kept and gave out silver coins as a personal trademark of sorts, just like the story of the white Lone Ranger’s silver bullets. Of course, the recent Disney adaptation of the Lone Ranger devised a clever and meaningful explanation for the silver bullets in the classic tales. For the new Lone Ranger, I would say more comedic than entertaining. But in the original series, there was never an explanation given, as this was simply something originally adapted from Reeves’ personal life and trade marking of himself.

For Reeves, it had a very different meaning; he would give out the valuable coins to ingratiate himself to the people wherever he found himself working, collecting bounties. In this way, a visit from the real “Lone Ranger” meant only good fortune for the town: a criminal off the street and perhaps a lucky silver coin. Like the Lone Ranger, Reeves was also expert crack shot with a gun. According to legend, shooting competitions had an informal ban on allowing him to enter. Like the Lone Ranger, Reeves rode a white horse throughout almost his entire career, at one point riding a light gray one as well.

Like the famed white Lone Ranger legend, Reeves had his own close friend like Tonto. Reeves’ companion was a Native American posse man and tracker who he often rode with when he was out capturing bad guys. In all, there were close to 3000 of such criminals they apprehended, making them a legendary duo in many regions.

The famed judge known as the hanging judge, Isaac Parker, was appointed as a federal judge for the Indian Territory. Parker appointed James Fagan as U.S. Marshal, directing him to hire 200 Deputy U.S. Marshals. Fagan had heard about Reeves, who knew the Indian Territory and could speak several Indian languages. Fagan recruited him as one of his deputies and Reeves was the first African-American deputy west of the Mississippi River.

Reeves was initially assigned as a Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, which also had responsibility for the Indian Territory. Reeves served in that district until 1893, when he transferred to the Eastern District of Texas in Paris, Texas. In 1897, he was transferred to the Muskogee Federal Court.

Reeves worked for thirty-two years as a Federal peace officer in the Indian Territory. He was one of Judge Parker’s most valued deputies and is credited with capturing some of the most dangerous criminals of the time. During his long career, ending in 1907, Reeves claimed to have arrested over 3,000 felons claiming to have shot and killed fourteen outlaws to defend his own life. He was never wounded, despite having his hat and belt shot off on separate occasions. Once he had to arrest his own son for murder.

The final proof that the Legend of Bass Reeves directly inspired into the story of the Lone Ranger can be found in the fact that a large number of those criminals were sent to federal prison in Detroit.

The Lone Ranger radio show originated and was broadcast to the public in 1933 on WXYZ in Detroit where the legend of Reeves was famous only two years earlier. Of course, WXYZ and the later TV and movie adaption’s weren’t about to make the Lone Ranger a black man, who began his career by beating a slave-keeper to death – now you know. Spread the word and let people know the real legend of the Lone Ranger. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

About Thought Provoking Perspectives

Welcome to Thought Provoking Perspectives a blog designed to be a potent source of empowering knowledge to broaden the information base with those who share my passion for the written word and the empowerment of thought. View all posts by Thought Provoking Perspectives

3 responses to “Black History: Did You Know Bass Reeves Was The Real Lone Ranger

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