“The kids were very attentive and asked many questions. They laughed at some of the words
in the book, such as tumbleweed and vittles, and after explaining the definitions to them, they
Fran Hall, Deputy Sheriff, Administrator, Sebastian County Juvenile Detention Center
“I explained to them what ‘dry-gulch’ and ‘slack-jawed’ were and asked them to do their best impression of both for a prize (the book itself). It was hilarious and priceless and it took several seconds to calm down our laughter. They were a great bunch!”
Linda Williams, Assistant Vice President, First National Bank
“We had a little time to spend on how the Five Civilized Tribes came to be in eastern Oklahoma and the role of Fort Smith as outpost at the edge of the frontier. A little geography never hurts anyone, to my way of thinking. Even got into a little lesson, there at the end, of north, south, east and west.”
Doug Kelley, Chief Pilot, Arkansas Best Corporation, and author of “The Captain’s Wife”
During February, Black History Month, more than 80 Fort Smith citizens read the award-winning book, “Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal,” to all fifth and sixth-graders in the Fort Smith Public Schools as well as in five private elementary schools.
The project came about because of the delightfully educational experience in June 2010 when children’s author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson of New Mexico read her book aloud at the Fort Smith Public Library. The book, beautifully illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, takes readers from Reeves’ boyhood in slavery through his adult life, full of challenging adventures as a federal peace officer in Indian Territory.
Now, more than 2,600 young Bass Reeves fans can’t wait for the Bass Reeves Monument to stand in Fort Smith’s downtown Ross Pendergraft Park. When they visit – on official sixth-grade field trips and with family -- they will know the story behind this hero who exhibited such integrity, courage and commitment.
We thank the following sponsors and readers for their wonderful support. Also find links at the bottom of this page to readers’ descriptions of their impressions of the students (“The Audience”), the unique ways they added to the fun and education during the readings (“The Creativity”), and the joy they received from the experience (“The Gift”).
Thank You, Reading Program Sponsors
The following companies, individuals and organizations contributed $1,000 toward the Bass Reeves Monument specifically in support of the Bass Reeves Reading Program. The goal of the reading program was to bring our students and leaders of our civic, professional and volunteer communities together to learn about Reeves’ outstanding career as a Deputy U.S. Marshal, illuminated by his strong sense of right and wrong and his dedication to duty.
Ameriprise Financial Services
Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corp. (AOG)
Doug & Kathy Babb
Christ the King Catholic School
Daily & Woods Law Firm
Butch & Sherry Edwards/Edwards Funeral Homes
First National Bank of Fort Smith
Fort Smith Noon Exchange Club
Fort Smith Rotary Club
McCutchen & Sexton: The Law Firm
Ed & Burva Nugent
Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E)
Rheem Manufacturing Company
Linda & Buddy Spradlin
Gary Udouj, Bill Buerglar & Henry Udouj II
Ann Woods & Julie W. Moncrief
Thanks Also to These Special Reading Program Supporters:
Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine
Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau
Fort Smith Museum of History
Fort Smith Public Library
Fort Smith Public Schools
Juneteenth Planning Commission, Inc.
Lerner Publishing Company
“Bass Reeves” MP3 Song of Reader Peter Lippincott
Reading Program Photo Gallery