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Graham: Like him or not, give Tyrone Brooks credit
Civil rights icon earns Lifetime Achievement Award - again - from SCLC
Tyrone Brooks
Former state Rep. Tyrone Brooks of Atlanta points to the story of the 'Newton Six' - six men held in the old Newton County jail for nearly two months in 1970 during a visit to Covington on Monday afternoon, June 4, 2018. The men were arrested during protests of segregation in Newton County. - photo by David Clemons
Newton Six

The "Newton Six," who were held in the county jail for more than a month for protesting segregation in 1970, were Joe Lightfoot, Leon Walker, Robert Johnson, Tyrone Brooks, Lloyd Jackson and Forrest Sawyer Jr.

African-American Historical Association of Newton County

Tyrone Brooks is a polarizing figure.

If you are part of the Moore’s Ford Movement and the effort to obtain justice for the victims of that horrible crime so many years ago, you are going to be a fan of Brooks.

If you would like to turn the page on that terrible chapter of Walton County’s history, particuarly now that the authorities have officially ended their investigation into the matter, you probably wish Brooks would go away.

If there is one thing Brooks has shown through the years it’s he is not going away.

Not anytime soon.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference on Thursday honored Brooks with President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for an unprecedented fourth time. The award was presented to the former Georgia state representative during the civil rights group’s 60th annual convention, which ended Sunday in Washington, D.C.

In a press release, Brooks said he was accepting the award on behalf of the Moore’s Ford Movement (an SCLC affiliate) and those who have been a part of his work throughout his life.  Brooks thanked the courageous heroes who have participated in the various movements Brooks has been involved in over the course of his civil rights career.

“Whatever I am, whatever people credit to me, whatever honors are bestowed or tributes given, it is all because I have had the blessing and opportunity to be reared, trained, groomed, and prepared in community service and civil rights work all my life by SCLC,” Brooks said in the release. “Arrested and jailed 69 times across the country because of my work with SCLC, I credit this organization for my career in activism and the Georgia House of Representatives. I accept this honor on behalf of all those nameless, faceless, unsung heroes and 'sheroes' who do the work behind the scenes that make it possible for people to know me and the work that we do every day.”

In addition to his work to solve the lynchings at the Moore’s Ford Bridge, Brooks lists his efforts to desegregate Covington as a member of the “Newton Six,” civil rights leaders who were jailed for two months during a period of protest in the city in 1970, among many of the causes he has championed through the years.

On Wednesday, July 25, it will be 72 years since the lynching at Moore’s Ford occurred, and the horrible event will be reenacted for the 14th time on Saturday, July 28, by Brooks and the other members of the Moore’s Ford Movement.

Whether you like him or not, you have to give credit where credit is due. I wouldn’t expect Brooks or his efforts to try and solve this long ago crime to go away anytime soon.

If ever.

Patrick Graham is the owner of The Covington News and The Walton Tribune. Email: