Prominent Caribbean attorney, civil rights advocate, and political and community activist Colin A. Moore died in New York on Sunday, close friends and colleagues said.
Patricia Jordon-Langford — a close family friend, president of the Brooklyn-based Guyana Tri-State Alliance, Inc. and Board Member of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York — said on Monday that Guyanese-born, Brooklyn resident Moore “passed away quietly.”
Another close friend, Grenadian Gerry Hopkins, a community activist and publicist in Brooklyn, described Moore as “a stalwart Caribbean-American father, husband, activist, lawyer, lecturer, politician, analyst and community organizer.”
He said Moore, who was born in Auchlyne Village, Corentyne Coast, Berbice, Guyana, on April 24, 1941, “sadly died of natural causes at the age of 80 in New York City.”
Moore was admitted to the New York State Bar in February 1979, Jordon-Langford said.
“Colin Moore was a skilled and tactical attorney who represented many high-profile cases in New York that sometimes provoked the ire of the reactionaries,” she said. “He was a civil rights advocate and a proponent for justice, and a patriot for his country of birth, Guyana.”
Jordon-Langford noted that, in 2019, the American Documentary Crime Drama television miniseries, “When They See Us”, directed by Ava DuVernay for Netflix, was released to wide acclaim, based on events of the 1989 Central Park Jogger’s case.
The film explored the lives of the five Black and Latino male suspects, who were falsely accused, prosecuted and falsely convicted for the rape and assault of a white woman in Central Park in Manhattan.
Jordon-Langford said that Moore was the lawyer who represented of one of the “Central Park Five” suspects, Korey Wise, 16.
“And he fought valiantly to prove that the youths were coerced against a blanket of media frenzy,” she said. “Thirty years later, they were all exonerated after spending six to 13 years in prison. At that time, they were all minors.”
Jordon-Langford said it was “a terrible miscarriage of justice,” adding that “DNA proved that none of the ‘Central Park Five’, as they were labeled, were guilty.”
But she said “a serial rapist who confessed, Matias Reyes, was the single perpetrator.”
Jordon-Langford said Chukwudi Iwuji, a Nigerian-British actor, portrayed Colin Moore, and that American actor Jharrel Jerome won the Emmy Award for lead actor for his portrayal of Korey Wise.
“Attorney Colin A. Moore your work is done on this earth,” she said. “You left an indelible legacy of civil rights activism. Rest in eternal peace.”
Former Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Reynold Mason, a Grenadian, said Moore was “a standout attorney in the Central Park jogger case in which he represented Korey Wise.
“He was a noted public speaker and political analyst,” said Mason of his former colleague and close friend. “The people of New York, and the people of the Caribbean in particular, owe much to this trailblazing Caribbean pioneer. His presence will be sorely missed.”
Mason, a former Brooklyn resident, who currently resides in Atlanta, Ga, said Moore attended Manchester Village Primary School, Bedford Methodist Primary School and Queens College Secondary School – all in Guyana – and that he graduated from the University of West Indies with a Bachelor of Science degree (honors) in economics.
On his return to Guyana, Moore was appointed executive director of the National History and Culture Council in 1964, “and helped to create the foundations of a national culture in Guyana,” Mason said.
“He lobbied to have February 23rd, the date of the Berbice Slave Rebellion, declared a national holiday, and to have Kofi, the leader of the Berbice Slave Rebellion, designated as Guyana’s first national hero,” he added.
Mason said Moore migrated to New York in 1970, attended Brooklyn Law School in September 1975 and graduated in June 1978, with the degree of Jurist Doctor (JD).
After he was admitted to the New York State Bar in February 1979, Moore practiced law between 1979 and 1994, “appearing as lead attorney in some high-profile cases, including the Central Park Jogger case, the Colin Ferguson homicide case and the Gavin Cato case in Crown Heights (Brooklyn),” said Mason, adding that Moore also “earned many honors.”
He said Moore obtained a Master of Divinity degree from New York Theological Seminary, was appointed a Congressional Aide to retired US Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns, and taught Constitutional Law at Brooklyn College.
In addition, Mason said Moore was a writer for the New York-based Carib News, among other publications, and was a frequent analyst on TV and radio.
Mason said Moore led many political organizations in New York, including the Caribbean Action Lobby, Marcus Garvey Political Club and the Jamaica, Queens branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States.
“Besides being an attorney in many high-profile, historical cases, especially involving civil rights, criminal and US Constitutional Law, Moore was also a university lecturer, a newspaper columnist and editor, an activist and advisor/confidant to many local community leaders,” said Hopkins, who also holds a JD degree.
“Moore certainly made a name for himself in New York politics,” added Hopkins, stating that Moore had sought election for Governor of New York in 1994, and had unsuccessfully run for New York City Council and Brooklyn District Attorney.
Additionally, along with a group of politically-active Blacks in Brooklyn, Moore co-founded the Freedom Party, Hopkins said.
“Moore will be remembered as a formidable visionary, articulate voice and advocate for the rights of African Americans and immigrants in the Diaspora,” he said. “My deepest condolences are extended to the wife and children of the late great, brilliant, inspiring and impactful, Colin Moore.”
Yvette Rennie, the Trinidadian-born president of the Brooklyn-based J’Ouvert City International, organizer of the annual Caribbean J’Ouvert in Brooklyn, said the Caribbean community has “lost another trailblazer.”
She said Moore was “a political, cultural and educational activist,” who “served on many high-profile cases, such as the ‘Central Park Five’, Tawanna Brawley and others,” and was on “the forefront of many demonstrations for justice.”
Rennie said Moore was also “very instrumental in the redistricting of New York in the 80’s, which put many of our people in political offices.”
Among many relatives and friends, Moore is survived for his Guyanese-born wife, Ela.