The Southern Christian Leadership Conference will again honor and salute the work of Tyrone Brooks when they present him with The President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for the unprecedented fourth time on July 12th. The 60th Annual SCLC Convention will be held July 12 – 15 at the Renaissance Hotel, 999 9th Street, Washington, D. C. 20001, 202-898-9000, http://www.nationalsclc.org, http://www.thepoorpeoplescampaign.org.
When National President and CEO Sen. Charles Steele, Jr. informed Brooks of the honor via letter, Brooks’ response was humbly grateful and surprised because he has been awarded presidential honors previously by presidents Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Dr. Joseph Echols Lowery, Sen. Steele (2006, Dayton, Ohio) and now Sen. Steele again in D. C.
At age 21, Brooks was assigned to the SCLC D.C. Bureau (14th and U streets) working with Rev. Walter Fauntroy, director, before being assigned to the Poor Peoples Campaign Mule Train in Marks, Mississippi. While bringing the mule train through Georgia headed to D.C., Brooks, Willie Bolden, staff, volunteers and the mules were arrested and jailed in Tallapoosa and Douglasville, GA., ordered by Gov. Lester Maddox. After arriving in D.C., Brooks, Bolden, Dr. Abernathy, Rev. Hosea Williams, Jimmy Wells, Bobby Nelson and Henry Brownlee were arrested and jailed while at the U. S. Capitol. Minus Abernathy and Williams, Brooks and the others were held in the D. C. jail and the Lorton, VA. Federal Prison for 30 days.
On Thanksgiving Day in November 1976, Brooks, Abernathy, Williams, Dick Gregory, Fauntroy and many others were arrested and jailed while picketing and protesting apartheid, the murder of students in SOWETO, South Africa at the White House and the South Africa Embassy. This was the first mass arrest and demonstration in the U. S. focusing on South Africa and the apartheid regime and incarceration of Nelson Mandela. Washington, D. C. will always be a special place for Brooks.
Brooks will accept 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 thanks the courageous heroes who have participated in the following movements which are highlights and represent only a few of the movements in Brooks’ career.
• Solving the lynchings at the Moore’s Ford Bridge, Monroe, GA.
• Bringing a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Georgia State Capitol
• Changing the Georgia State Flag from the racist Georgia Confederate Battle Flag
• Reactivating the City of Keysville, GA
• Breaking up the predominantly white judiciary in Georgia (The Brooks Litigation)
• Helping pass the Max Black reapportionment plan
• Sponsoring the anti-terrorism statute in Georgia
• Leading the movement to bring justice to the Pensacola, Florida 5 murders
• Leading the movement to desegregate Covington, Newton County, Georgia. The “Newton Six” were jailed for more than two months, during the period of protest in the spring of 1970. The Newton Six, leaders of the movement in the county, were Tyrone Brooks, Lloyd Jackson, Robert Johnson, Joe Lightfoot, Forrest Sawyer, Jr. and Leon Walker. Because Brooks was the SCLC leader, dispatched from The National Headquarters in Atlanta, he was immediately targeted by Sheriff Henry Jr. Odum, who threatened to kill Brooks with a double barreled sawed-off shotgun.
• Leading the movement to bring justice in the murders of Willie Gene Carreker (Woodland, GA), Eddie Lee Callahan (Atlanta, GA), Lynn McKinley Jackson (Monroe, GA)
• Leading the movement to free Rommie Lloud (Orlanda, Florida)
• Leading the movement to free the Quitman 10+2, Brooks County, Georgia
• The movement to free activist Tom Shaw in Vienna, Dooley County, Georgia.
Brooks says: “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. 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.”
Many of Brooks friends and colleagues from Atlanta are expected to attend the DC tribute to salute their friend for his dedicated and non-stop service to the movement. Georgia State Representative Marie Metze [Ga 55], who holds the former seat which Brooks held, says “As the former 55th District Representative in the Georgia House of Representatives, Tyrone Brooks demonstrated his commitment to serving all members of his community for 35 years by not only dealing with their financial needs but also acting with important matters of the law with justice, mercy, and faithfulness. His SCLC Achievement Award is a success well deserved, an occasion worth celebrating.”