About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The First Black Texas Ranger in Real Life and Fiction

In Bluebird, Bluebird Darren Mathews is a Texas Ranger. He is accorded a special respect because of his status as a Ranger. In the book some of the white characters struggle with their attitude towards Mathews because of their prejudices against African Americans and their high regard for the Rangers. In the end being a Ranger is more important than being black.

Having never lived in Texas I have had but a limited appreciation for the special position of Rangers within Texas society. From Bluebird, Bluebird local law enforcement may not always be excited about the participation of the Rangers in cases but the public holds them in high esteem.

The book speaks of Mathews’ uncle, William, being the first black Texas Ranger. His uncle’s position as the first black Ranger provided Willian with a unique status among black Texans. He had broken another racial barrier.

Uncle William came from a family in the black elite of East Texas and had a big personality. Dead for several years he is still a significant presence in the book.

Reading about the two Mathews as Rangers set me to thinking about who had been the first real life black Texas Ranger. That distinction came to Lee Roy Young thirty years ago in 1988. It had taken 165 years since the Rangers were founded in 1823.

Young was 40 when he was chosen to be a Ranger. He already had 15 years in law enforcement with the Texas Department of Public Safety and had been a criminal intelligence investigator in San Antonio when he became a Ranger.

From a 1989 article and interview with Associated Press he indicated he had “dreamed of being a ranger as a child in south Texas and said the reality has pretty much lived up to the dream”.

On his motivation to be a Ranger he said:

“You’re trying to find or to obtain something unknown, or that’s not easily found or disclosed, so it’s that challenge in itself that I find most exciting.”

He had no problem with being a possible role model:

“There’s always that possibility, that someone will see me and say: “If he was successful in his chosen field, then I can go forth and do the same in mine”.

He was hoping in 1989 that his status as the first black Ranger would “just fade away” and people would focus on his work as a Ranger. He retired in 2003.

The first black woman Texas Ranger was Christine Nix. Her selection as a Ranger came in 1994, 6 years after Young.

An article for OA Online said:

For the next 10 years, until her retirement, she investigated murders, rapes, white collar crime and political corruption. She used hypnosis as part of her investigative techniques and jokingly told her children she had psychic powers.

After she retired from the Rangers in 2004 she became an Assistant Professor and program coordinator of Criminal Justice at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas.

Small in stature and soft in voice she always had a sense of humour:

      "Clint Eastwood (in a movie role) said, 'a man's got to know
      his limitations.' I knew my limitations, and as a police officer, I 
      couldn't run very far, but I warned, 'if I break a nail or mess up 
      my hair, someone's going to jail.' "

In Bluebird, Bluebird Darren Mathews was very appreciative of his Uncle William leading the way for African Americans in becoming
Rangers. At the same time old Rangers were always comparing him  to his Uncle.


  1. This is really interesting history, Bill, for which thank you. From what I understand, you're absolutely right about the high esteem - even reverence, that people in Texas have for the Rangers. So I can see how someone interested in law enforcement might dream of being a Ranger from childhood.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. The image of the Texas lawman in white hat remains strong with the Rangers.