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The first black rancher in SWFL: Huey Howard reflects on 71 years of work

Posted at 11:06 AM, Feb 16, 2024

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — “You see that cow right there..She's a big one,” Huey Howard said.

The 88-year-old cowboy, Huey Howard he moved to Immokalee from Mississippi in 1953 and for the past 71 years has raised cattle.

Howard and his family are known in the area as the first Black cattle ranchers in Southwest Florida.

"My first piece of land they wouldn’t sell it to me. I had to go get someone else to go buy it for me,” Howard said. He says money wasn't the problem. It was his race so, he had a white friend buy the property who then signed it over to him.

"Look at all these cows. It's enjoyment to me. For me to ride out here and look at all these cattle since this is something I’ve wanted to do all my life." Decades later, he owns around seven thousand acres and more than 700 cows.

Howard said, his dream to own cattle wouldn't be possible without his a late wife Dorcas.

The Howard Ranch is a family business. When Fox 4 met with Huey Howard, his son Huey Howard Jr. was also there. He works on the ranch alongside his dad and siblings. He said he’s worked on the ranch since he was a young boy.

"I’ve had people tell me there’s no way you’re a cowboy you’re black," Howard Jr said.

He remembers one rodeo in particular. "I had my washing outfit on, and this guy goes, so who does he think he is and this other guy goes oh he's a real cowboy."

Overtime, ranchers respected the Howard family's success. A real cowboy just like his dad, his brother and the rest of their family and possibly the future generations too.

Howard Jr said, "Hopefully, the future of the Howard Ranch, the kids can progress."

"I’m tickled to death," Howard Sr said as he reflected on his legacy and impact on cattle ranching and representation in Southwest Florida.