Bass Reeves, the Lone Ranger

Black History Month, Johnny Depp, Bass Reeves, Lone Ranger, Westerns, Cowboys
I grew up watching Westerns with my dad, and all I ever saw were white men (and the occasional abused Native American/First Nations). However, many blacks who escaped slavery actually went west, and after the civil war, this was even more of an occurrence. The west had a high demand for skilled labor and more personal freedom than the Deep South, so while there was still racism, it provided a better opportunity for black's to gain freedom and income. Despite the representation, 1 out of 4 cowboys were actually black men! In fact, it’s believed that the term cowboy was originally a derogatory term to describe black cow hands. Did I mention that the Lone Ranger might have been based on Bass Reeves, a black man? Those facts make the 2013 version of Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp playing Tonto even more whitewashed than it already is.


  1. Michel Marriott. "Remembrance of Slave Ancestors Lost to the Sea". New York Times. June 19, 1994
  2. Brendan Wolfe. "Slave Ships and the Middle Passage". Encyclopedia Virginia; visited February 2020

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