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Bass Reeves speaker Feb. 29

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In honor of Black History Month, Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus will host Bass Reeves interpreter Baridi Nkokheli at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, in the Student Services Conference Center.

Reeves was one of the first African Americans (possibly the first) to receive a commission as a deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi River.

Born a slave in Crawford County, Reeves returned to Arkansas from Texas after the Civil War, homesteading near Van Buren. Because of Reeves’ ability to speak several American Indian languages, he was recruited to be a deputy U.S. Marshal under legendary Judge Isaac Parker.

Nkokheli, who serves as director of the Fort Smith Department of Sanitation, researches and reenacts Reeves, whose image is to be memorialized in a statue at Pendergraft Park in downtown Fort Smith.

According to its website, the Bass Reeves Legacy Monument will “bridge the past with the present, connecting Reeves remarkable accomplishments with leaders of future generations, and providing tangible recognition of Fort Smith’s lasting relationship with the U.S. Marshals Service – the nation’s oldest law enforcement agency.”

Also, the library will show “Up from Slavery,” a seven-part documentary series. The five-hour documentary will loop on the Student Union television from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The series covers the following topics: 1619 Virginia – The first African slaves arrive; 18th Century colonial America and slavery under the rule of the British Empire; slavery in the United States after the revolution; Nat Turner’s rebellion, 1831; abolition from the North grows; the Civil War; Emancipation Proclamation; aftermath of the Civil War and new “freedom.”

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, the library will show “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years." The documentary schedule is as follows, 8-10 a.m., Awakenings (1954-1956) and Fighting Back (1957-1962); 10 a.m. to noon, Ain’t Scared of Your Jails (1960-1961) and No Easy Walk (1961-1963); noon to 2 p.m., Mississippi: Is this America? (1962-1964) and Bridge to Freedom (1965);  3-5 p.m., Awakenings (1954-1956) and Fighting Back (1957-1962).

The documentaries will be available to check out in the library.

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