It is clear that in order to be elected sheriff in the politically incorrect America of the 19th century, the black candidate had to have remarkable abilities, which made him just an ideal movie hero. Take, for example, Willy Kennard. This lanky 42-year-old man – a former cavalry officer, a Civil War veteran – appeared in 1874 in the town of Yankee Hill in Colorado at a critical moment. The city has just lost three sheriffs: two were shot by local outlaw Barney Caseuit, and the third escaped himself as soon as he figured out the situation. A local newspaper published an announcement seeking a new sheriff, but there were no people willing to continue the conflict with Caseuit. It was a completely demonic type: for example, it is known that he raped a 15-year-old girl and killed her father when he tried to take revenge on him. Barney Caseuit perfectly mastered the vital art of the Wild West to quickly get a gun and shoot accurately and was always ready to demonstrate his skills.
When Kennard offered his services to the city fathers, they first laughed at him, but decided that this strange black guy should be checked in business – they gave him a sheriff’s star and asked to arrest Kasuit, who, without hiding, was drinking with friends in a local saloon. As befits the Western heroes, Kennard went to arrest the gang alone. Seeing a black man with a star, Caseuit also took it at first as a joke. But according to the manners of the new sheriff, he realized that he was dealing with an experienced shooter, and reached for a holster. What Willy Kennard did in response would have graced any Sergio Leone movie, although perhaps the audience would have considered this trick too implausible: with a lightning motion he grabbed his colt and with two well-aimed shots knocked out the guns from the hands of the bandit. With two more shots, he sent bullets between the eyes of Barney’s friends, who hastened to help the boss.
Barney Caseuit was forced to surrender and the very next day he was hanged by the verdict of a local emergency court. The executor, Kennard, was elected the new sheriff and performed many more feats over the years of his service. For example, when a gang of eight outlaws appeared in the district, led by Billy McGregor, who escaped from the county prison, Willy Kennard decided to lure them into the city instead of chasing them around. To do this, he posted announcements of McGregor’s $ 50 award everywhere. The insignificance of the amount infuriated him – usually less than three hundred were not offered for him – and together with the whole gang he went to the city to avenge the sheriff for such an insult. Kennard was ready for the visit and, in the best cinematic traditions, was waiting for “guests” on the main street of the city with a double-barreled shotgan in his hands. The result of the meeting: two bandits were killed, six were arrested. McGregor was hanged on the same pine tree as Barney Caseuit the year before.
However, according to city chronicles, not all citizens were ready to come to terms with the fact that their sheriff was black. September 2, 1874, a certain Rhys Durham, taking for courage several glasses of whiskey, tried to arrange a duel with Kennard, but achieved only a premature sending of his mortal body to the local cemetery.
So the question is not why black characters suddenly appeared in modern westerns. The question is, where were they before?
It’s good that the situation is gradually improving. I know that might want to see Idris Elba in the role of the new James Bond. Forget it. Let him play Willy Kennard better. I already dream to see this film. I hope they read us in Hollywood?