What had me CRUNK for this…
I didn’t grow up a Cowboy movie fan. Now my POPS? He is the old school, popcorn, drink and couple of westerns. He doesn’t need anything else; he is GOOD. As a kid, I was a bopper for the Lone Ranger. Masked up? Helping the Natives? (My GREAT Grandmother was full-blood Cherokee so you know I was hooked!) To this day, I’m down with a masked vigilante, riding solo, treating everything and everyone with an insane amount of respect. When I got to college and realized that he (the LONE RANGER) was black? It was on. I spent time finding more Black heroes of the Western era but it didn’t hold my attention. The stories did but I was done with them all. Until THIS movie hit. Suddenly, it all came rushing back.
How the plot came together…
I had no idea what a masterpiece this was. The difficulty of weaving a story that could hold all these complex characters must have crazy FUN. I mean it too. In essence, you are taking controversial and intimately racist/prejudiced stories of Black people, picking the pieces that interest you, and building a fantasy of your imagination. There is no need to handcuff your plot to the truth because so little is known. The only acceptable fact among any of the researched biographies is that all were considered “tough as nails” people. Whether on the side of right or wrong, these individuals struggled to accept the “routine life” and operated as outlaws.
Introducing the Major Characters
Played by Idris Elba, Rufus Buck eptomized youth and rebellion. According to his histories, he led a gang of teens that robbed and killed colonizers in an attempt to spark a war between Natives and US citizens. Yup, his father was a bad guy and that gave the film’s plot sweet credibility.
Treacherous Trudy Smith
Very little is known of Trudy Smith and I found NO pictures. This is a gift that allowed her character’s role to truly be illustrated by Regina King’s acting skills. Nobody plays treacherous like Regina and those eyes.
“We didn’t know Trudy until Regina gave us Trudy.”
I grew up thinking Cherokee Bill was a colonizer but learned the truth sometime during that collegiate romp of Western movies in search of more Black Cowboys. Growing up, kids thought he was the SHIT because he killed his brother-in-law and walked away. NOBODY even snitched until he was looooong gone.
Nat Love was one of the real heroes of his era because he kept his own journal, wrote his stories, and even got married with kids. He was indeed adopted so the plot is quite freaking awesome tying him to *ahem*. I liked his personal story the most of all characters because every step is something I would have done. *wink*
I didn’t know JACK SQUAT about Jim until watching the movie. *crosses heart* After reading, I want more. Jim WAS damn good at fighting and nicknamed ‘Bloody Arm’. (Believe me. I tried finding out why that name but nothing.)
Bill Pickett is a real deal, well known cowboy legend. The King is credited with introducing bulldogging to American Rodeo shows. Bulldogging is the exercise of wrestling a steer to the ground!
Stagecoach MARY is what they call her. Mary became the first Black, female, star-route mail carrier. Her legend? She delivered that mail through Indian territories, despite open, legal threats of slavery, and did it all in the Wild, Wild West without men for backup. THAT is a GANGSTA.
To be black in a country founded on enslaving your people is hard. To be a black woman, I do NOT want to write those hardships, hold those emotions and fears. To be a Black woman, PRETENDING TO BE A MAN, enlisting in the most racist army on planet Earth? That is what she did. She pulled it off too. An amazing story of survival that we can only imagine.
It NEVER shocks me how few people are aware that the Lone Ranger is based on the historical exploits and adventures of a BLACK man. In college, the knowledge that he fought with the Confederate Army hurt me to the core. I stopped talking the dude and pretty much dropped my interest. I’m ashamed of myself now. As a father of four, I absolutely get it. As a married man, I get. As a learned person, cognizant and alert to the predicament of peoples, I will never forget it.
Wiley falls in the category of Trudy Smith. There is so little known that Deon Cole’s rendition will forever be how I see the man. He WAS a lawman of THE Wild West and the stories stop there.
Tribespeople, y’all know I’m an HONEST blogger. YES. I loved the attraction of Black Western Cowboys and Outlaws. (Come on MAN! *LOL*) Two, the movie wasn’t slowed by a lame attempt to develop a love story. Nope, that element was slammed early and things moved on to a more action-based theme. *thumps chest* I was digging most of the action too. Pure, old school, shoot-out type of stuff. Three has to be that soundtrack! Barrington Levy is booming. Kid Cudi and Seal slide in and do what they do. After Jay-Z, it was all about feel and vibe. Nobody let me down. Finally, when a movie inspires you to research, read, write, share and tell your kids? That is an automatic A. *slow head nod*