Tributes to prominent lawyer, political activist Colin Moore

The late Caribbean attorney and political activist, Colin Moore.  Gerry Hopkins
The late Caribbean attorney and political activist, Colin Moore.
Gerry Hopkins

Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton Friday night joined the Caribbean community in New York in paying glowing tributes to prominent Guyanese-born attorney and political activist Colin Moore who died on Jan. 9. He was 80.

“Colin didn’t care about factions, If it was right, Colin was there,” said Rev. Sharpton, an internationally-renowned civil rights leader, founder and president of the Harlem-based National Action Network (NAN), which has more than 100 chapters across America, in eulogizing Moore at First Baptist Church on Eastern Parkway, near Rodgers Avenue, in Brooklyn.

“If there’s a portrait of a Black woman to stand by his man it’s Ela,” added Sharpton, referring to Moore’s Guyanese-born wife, seated in the front pew near the casket, of over 50 years.

“Colin, you didn’t have to make up anything,” he continued. “His life spoke for himself. Colin lived his eulogy. He never let his guard down. In order to understand Colin Moore, he came from good stock, and he came to New York with the royal outlook

“Colin never allowed America to make him a boy,” said Rev. Sharpton, hailed by former President Barack Obama as a “champion for the downtrodden”; and host of “Politics Nation” on MSNBC; a nationally-syndicated daily radio show “Keepin’ It Real”; and a nationally-broadcast radio show on Sunday, “The Hour of Power.” “He saw law as a calling. He believed deep down in his heart.”

Sharpton said Moore, a long-standing Brooklyn resident, was among a handful of Black lawyers, including C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox, Jr., who took on controversial civil rights and other cases.

“Black Lives (Matter) started with Colin and Mason and Maddox,” he said. “He stood up for Wise; yet, he believed in those five boys.”

Rev. Sharpton alluded to Korey Wise, then 16, who was among five Black and Latino youths, renowned as the “Central Park Five,” falsely accused, prosecuted and convicted for the rape and assault of a white woman in Central Park in Manhattan.

The youths were eventually exonerated after spending six to 13 years in prison.

“He stood by them (those) boys,” said Sharpton, referring to Moore. “That self-esteem he brought from Guyana. There was something from Colin that you knew he had in him — that Colin had that innate sense.

“It took 14 years for them to prove them (boys) did not rape that woman,” he added. “That was a real man, this was a real warrior, this was a royal Black man.

“You had no idea the weight he (Moore) had on him in that Central Park case,” Sharpton continued. “He was a pillar in the community. He never became bitter. He believed in the end that everything will be right.

“We come this far by faith,” he said. “I come tonight to salute a warrior. Whatever I or anyone of us accomplished, we could not get there without Colin Moore.”

Rev. Sharpton said Moore “never shamed his community,” stating that he “fought a good fight.”

“We owe a depth of gratitude (to Moore),” he said. “I had to thank a man whose shoulders we stood on.

“Colin was always restless,” Rev. Sharpton added. “So, finally, he’ll get some rest.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton eulogizes Colin A. Moore. Photo by Nelson A. King

Dr. Ewart Thomas, a Guyanese-born professor of Psychology, Emeritus, at Stanford University in California, said Moore’s passionate advocacy 30 years ago, on behalf of the “Central Park Five,” would “ultimately fall on the right side of history.”

“Colin has left us with an inspiring legacy of community activism as a teacher, preacher and journalist,” he said. “But it was his advocacy of civil liberties that, perhaps, is the most important part of this legacy.”

A representative for New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, only identified as Edith, said Moore’s pursuit of civil justice was “well documented.”

“Mr. Colin Moore was a leader,” she said on behalf of Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants. “Know that his impact will be left in the New York community.”

Rhea Smith, a Trinidadian-born board member of the Brooklyn-based West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizer of the annual massive Caribbean Carnival Parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway, said Moore “left an indelible mark” on the community.

“And, we thank you, Colin, for your work,” said Smith, who works with New York State Sen. Kevin Parker, representative for the 21st Senate District in Brooklyn.

Marilyn, no last name given, who hails from Grenada, said he worked with Moore during the 1990s.

“I didn’t know him before I came to this country,” she told mourners. “I was determined to prove myself, because of his trust in me.

“I was able to work for Johnnie Cochran (the deceased famous lawyer) because of Mr. Moore,” Marilyn added. “I came here without a green card, and he (Moore) took that chance in me.”

Colin Moore’s daughter, Taylin, also known as Tsedey (left), and wife, Ela, in front pew before casket.

Colin Aggrey Moore, or Aggrey as he was called by family and friends, was born on April 24, 1941, at Auchlyne, Corentyne, Guyana, the eldest of three sons to the late Victor and Olive Moore.

Moore’s eldest brother, Dr. Arlington “Arley” Moore, said he was physically unable to read the obituary, allowing his wife to do so instead.

The obituary states that Moore “often put his community on his back, erecting the support of many prominent people, including Reverend Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, and a host of others to change the live of Black people in New York City.

“His work helped to facilitate the transformation of many neighborhoods,” it says. “His passion was supporting minorities, which stemmed from the systematic denial of legal representation of Blacks in New York City.”

“Colin’s passion for the law was facilitated by the police shooting of 10-year-old Clifford Glover in Queens, NY, 1973,” it adds. “The struggle faced by his people fueled Colin’s passion.

“Once described as ‘[a] Brooklyn-based attorney with a reputation for pursuing allegations of racism in the criminal justice system,’ Colin was so moved to help people from underserved and marginalized communities that he often provided counsel on a pro-bono basis,” the obituary continues. “He had the opportunity to represent defendants in a number of high-profile cases, the Central Park Jogger Trial, the Colin Ferguson homicide case and the Gavin Cato case in Crown Heights, to name a few.”

Moore’s other brother, Bernard “Ashton” Moore, lauded Moore’s “devoted wife, Ela, for over 50 years, the love of his life,” for adhering to their marriage vow, which says in part “in sickness or in health.”

“I know that our parent would have been pleased,” Bernard Moore said.

Moore was predeceased by daughter, Simone.

Besides Ela, Arlington and Bernard, he is survived by daughter, Taylin (Tsedey); grandchildren, Deja and Noah; and sister, Patricia Grant; among numerous relatives, friends and supporters.

Moore’s body was interred on Saturday at Pinelawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale, Suffolk County, Long Is.

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