Graveside services for local civil rights icon Robert “Bobby” Howard will begin at noon Thursday in the Social Circle City Cemetery.
Howard died Thursday, days after Social Circle paid homage to him with the naming of the Robert “Bobby” Howard Bridge, a new span which carries South Cherokee Road traffic over the CSX railroad near downtown.
He was 80.
Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday at Young-Levett Funeral Home in Covington.
The Moore’s Ford Movement honored Howard in 2019 for his life’s work, although Alzheimer’s disease had left Howard unable to enjoy some of the accolades which have come his way in recent years.
“He has a desire to see justice and equality become a reality,” Tyrone Brooks said at the time. Brooks, who has led the Moore’s Ford Movement — an effort to find justice for the four people killed in a lynching here in 1946 — worked in the civil rights struggle with Howard over the decades.
Howard became involved in the civil rights effort as a teenager after seeing the books roll up to Carver High, the Black school in segregated Walton County, in the back of a dump truck, poured out in the schoolyard for students to pick through after they’d been used by the white schools.
Howard worked for desegregation, which finally happened in Walton County public schools in the late 1960s, more than a decade after the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that mandated it. In 1967 founded a group called Community Organization for Progress that pushed for full local school integration.
A judge ordered it in 1968.
Howard worked with local funeral director Dan Young to register voters, and listened as Young talked about those 1946 lynchings at the Moore’s Ford Bridge over the Apalachee River.
Young and Howard would ride through the countryside, registering African American voters and recruiting for the NAACP.
In later years, Howard helped start the Moore’s Ford Committee and was a regular presence at the marches and reenactments.
“It’s going to take all of us — Black, white, red, polka-dot — to make things right,” he once said.
He also was active in the fight against AIDS.
“If we are who we think we are, we need to do something,” he said after an AIDS awareness march in 2007.
“And if we don’t, we need to ask, just who are we?”
Councilman Tyson Jackson said last weekend at the bridge dedication that Jackson worked hard in his life for civil rights.
“He continued to fight for justice and equal rights for all,” Jackson said. “He was a foot soldier, fighting for the same rights as MLK (Martin Luther King Jr.).
“It’s humbling for me. Without Mr. Howard’s labor, I probably wouldn’t be standing here in my position today.”
Due to the panedemic, guests are asked to wear a mask to both the viewing and the graveside service.