He wrangled thousands of criminals, and left a silver dollar as his calling card. Yet despite being one of the most impressive Wild West figures, Bass Reeves was all but forgotten.
“This is a black man in America’s legendary Western history who has been totally overlooked.” — Morgan Freeman
Contrary to what classic westerns might have us believe, one in four American cowboys was actually African-American. We don’t necessarily get that reality when the only image we have in our minds is John Wayne or The Lone Ranger. But, in fact, the true inspiration behind The Lone Ranger (and possibly Django from Django Unchained) was real life US Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves, an African-American who fled the Civil War, befriended the Seminole and Creek Indians, and eventually became one of the greatest lawmen of the Wild West.