JUDGE PAUL L. BRADY: Marshaling His Resources
BY KIMBERLY BAILEY-TUREAUD
In a new book, a history-making judge shares the story of a relative whose landmark achievements helped change AmericaWe are often reminded of the consequences of violence in the Middle East, but relatively little attention is paid to the ongoing state of deadly conflict that plagues the continent of Africa.
When he is writing, retired Judge Paul L. Brady — the first African-American appointed to the federal administrative bench — considers Las Vegas his second home.
His personal journey to the heights of the legal profession began when he decided to study law while residing with his late aunt, Lucinda Todd, at her home in Topeka, Kan. — where she helped lead strategy meetings surrounding the historic desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education. Indeed, Todd was the first plaintiff to step forward in the landmark case that changed the course of American history.
Today, Brady is continuing the family legacy, now as a prolific author. He recently penned “The Black Badge: Deputy United States Marshal Bass Reeves — From Slave to Heroic Lawman,” an account of the triumphs and trials of another relative who made an enormous impact on the history of the United States.
“My uncle, Bass Reeves, was the first black federal lawman, who began his fight on crime as a bounty hunter in the 1800s,” Brady explained in an interview with Black Image. “His heroic journey started when he was a young teenager, who escaped the chains of slavery in Texas and crossed the Red River with his master’s fine thoroughbred show horses. Finding refuge with the Five Civilized Indian Tribes, opportunities were created that neither the Indians, nor Reeves, could bypass.”
After living for a decade in the southeastern U.S. territory set aside for the Five Civilized Tribes, Reeves won their trust by offering his horses for the purpose of cross breeding with the tribes’ ponies. Despite having never learned to read or write, Reeves managed to learn the languages spoken by all five tribes. Those relationships and skills are what made Reeves such a valuable asset to federal marshals, who were often called upon to navigate the region in search of outlaws and fugitives.
At the time of the Civil War, an increase in lawlessness in the Indian territories eventually resulted in the arrival of Judge Isaac Parker, an Ohio jurist known popularly as “the hanging judge.” One of his first acts in the war on crime: appointing Reeves to be a deputy marshal.
“At that time, horse thieves were hung and … Judge Parker knew of the great work Bass Reeves did as a bounty hunter, and knew that he respected the law of the land,” said Brady. “My uncle loved the law … because he believed it was the reason slavery would soon be abolished.”
As he considers the ongoing evolution of triumphant African-American history, Brady sees many parallels between the circumstances faced by his uncle and those experienced by a contemporary black American hero.
“I don’t remember any modern president who faced the challenges that President Barack Obama was faced with during his first four years as president,” said Brady. “The conservative movement, which was birthed in the Deep South, found its way into the White House and was determined to stop President Obama’s policies and to stop an unstoppable re-election. Unlike my uncle … who bridged a gap between the Indians and federal marshals, President Obama had a built-in conservative resistance upon coming into office.”
As Brady sees it, the fight for equal justice is ongoing. He cites the recent attempts at voter suppression, legal assaults on affirmative action and the re-establishment of school segregation as evidence that the civil rights movement is not yet complete.
“My uncle’s final days were very sad,” he said. “He witnessed a backward spiral of segregation, and had to relinquish his position as a deputy marshal in 1907 when Oklahoma became a state. It was in 1896 when the Plessy v. Ferguson law was established, requiring states to enact racial segregation in public facilities under the separate-but-equal doctrine. Oklahoma was the first state to deny black men the right to vote, so his ending was a step back from where he began. I don’t like to use the terms ‘civil rights’ or ‘affirmative action.’ These are terms that seem to be separate from the rights enshrined in the Constitution. It is justice, and the law says we are all equal and deserving of equal treatment. No debate is needed.”