Military Wiki
George Howard Jr.
Born (1924-05-13)May 13, 1924
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Died April 21, 2007(2007-04-21) (aged 82)
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Alma mater Lincoln University, University of Arkansas School of Law
Occupation Judge, attorney
Successor Brian Stacy Miller (Eastern District)
Spouse(s) Vivian Howard
Children three daughters, one son[1]

George Howard Jr. (May 13, 1924 – April 21, 2007) was an American World War II veteran, attorney, and a federal judge. He was the first African-American U.S. District Court judge in Arkansas.[1] He initially served concurrently on the District Courts for both the Eastern District and Western District of Arkansas, then in 1990 was assigned exclusively to the Eastern District.[2] Howard played an important role in the Whitewater controversy, presiding over several Whitewater-related cases, including the separate trials of Jim and Susan McDougal, and once called on President Bill Clinton to testify.[3]

Early life[]

Howard was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1924. As a teenager he left home to serve in the United States Navy during World War II, a time when he was subjected to racism that would inspire him to become a lawyer. Howard served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946,[2] and after completing his military service he finished high school and went on to Lincoln University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, where he graduated with honors from their pre-law program.[4] He then entered the University of Arkansas and became the first African-American to live in campus housing at the school. Howard enrolled in law school at the university and received his juris doctorate in 1954.[5] Howard is named as one of the "Six Pioneers," the first six African-American students to attend to University of Arkansas School of Law.[6][7] Howard then returned to Pine Bluff and established a law practice, which he operated from 1954 to 1977, and in 1979.[2] During this period he ran his only political campaign, an unsuccessful city council bid, and served as president of the State Council of Branches for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Judicial career[]

Governor Winthrop Rockefeller appointed Howard to the Arkansas State Claims Commission in 1967, and was Chairman of the commission from 1969 until 1977,[2] when Governor David Pryor named him Arkansas Supreme Court justice. In 1979 Governor Bill Clinton appointed Howard as a judge on the Arkansas Court of Appeals. Howard would hold this position only briefly, as President Jimmy Carter appointed him federal judge for the Eastern and Western districts of Arkansas in 1980 to fill a seat vacated by Richard S. Arnold,[2] a position he would hold until his death in 2007. In 1990 his service was restricted to only the Eastern district of Arkansas.[2] Howard became the first African-American in the history of Arkansas to serve as a state Supreme Court justice, Court of Appeals judge, and federal judge.[4] Judge Howard played an important judicial role in the Whitewater trial, which led to the downfall of then- Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker and the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998.[8] During the Whitewater trials, Judge Howard called for video testimony from Clinton, the man who had appointed him to the court of appeals years earlier.[3][3] A member of the 1994 class of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame,[9] Judge Howard was known for his fairness and commitment to civil rights. He made the daily drive from his home in Pine Bluff to Little Rock to carry out his judicial duties, despite being slowed in his later years by declining health.[10]


Judge George Howard, Jr. died April 21, 2007, at Jefferson Regional Medical Center, after battling health issues for several years.[10] Three days later, on April 24, U.S. Representative Mike Ross and Arkansas Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor introduced legislation before the House of Representatives and the Senate to rename the Pine Bluff federal building and courthouse after Judge Howard. Ross, Mike [11] Howard was honored on the floor of the House of Representatives on April 26, 2007.[12] The legislation, brought before the House as H.R. bill 2011, renamed the building on 100 East 8th Avenue in Pine Bluff as the George Howard, Jr. Federal Building and United States Courthouse.[13][14] Howard, whose portrait hangs in the federal courthouses in Pine Bluff and Little Rock,[10] has a scholarship fund maintained in his honor, The George Howard Junior Scholarship Fund at the William H. Bowen School of Law, University of Arkansas at Little Rock.[4] Howard was inducted posthumously into the Lincoln University Hall of Fame on October 10, 2008.[15]

See also[]

  • Whitewater controversy
  • Pine Bluff, Arkansas
  • Federal judiciary of the United States
  • Arkansas Supreme Court


  1. 1.0 1.1 [ "Honorees: George Howard, Jr."] Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5
    • George Howard Jr. at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "George Howard Jr., 82; federal judge presided over Whitewater cases." Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2007. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "State’s First Black Federal Judge, George Howard, Dead at 82.", April 23, 2007. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  5. Hon. Mike Ross."In Lasting Memory of Judge George Howard, Jr." Congressional Record, V. 153, Pt. 7, April 18, 2007 to April 26, 2007. ISBN 0160871182 Google Books. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  6. Kilpatrick, Judith. "Desegrating the University of Arkansas School of Law: L. Clifford Davis and the Six Pioneers." Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol LXVIII, No. 2, Summer 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  7. "Historical Markers, University of Arkansas: Six Pioneers." Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  8. "New Scholarship Honors Judge Howard.", August 8, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  9. Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, 1994 Induction Ceremony." Retrieved January 30th, 2013.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Arkansas Democrat Gazette, July 4, 2008.
  11. "Ross, Arkansas Delegation Seek to Honor U.S. District Court Judge George Howard, Jr. of Pine Bluff.", April 27, 2007. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  12. Ross (AR04) – Floor Statements – In Memory of Judge George Howard Jr
  13. Norton, Eleanor Holmes. "George Howard, Jr. Federal Building and United States Courthouse." Congressional Record V. 153, Pt. 12, June 18, 2007 to June 26, 2007. Washington: United States Congress, 2010. ISBN 0160871433 Google Books. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  14. "George Howard, Jr. Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse." U.S. General Services Administration. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  15. "2008 Hall of Fame: Honorable George Howard, Jr. ('48)." Retrieved March 31, 2017.

External links[]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Richard S. Arnold
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Brian Stacy Miller
Preceded by
Richard S. Arnold
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas
Succeeded by
seat abolished

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