A pall fell on the city Tuesday, Feb. 4 with news of the death of Horace L. Morancie.
The painful reality of the passing of the 85-year-old, Trinidad & Tobago expatriate resonated with nostalgia as Brooklyn residents recalled the relentless effort made by the immigrant who dedicated time and effort to the improvement of housing conditions of less privileged city dwellers.
“He was one of the most powerful technocrats of the 60’s and 70s,” Herman Hall, publisher of Everybody’s Magazine said.
According to the Caribbean documenter of historic achievements, Morancie worked tirelessly “during the civil rights era of the 1960s when white liberal political leaders in New York City sought to place qualified Blacks in high profile administrative positions.”
At the time, President Lyndon B. Johnson banked on advancing his war on poverty campaign. With support for the anti-poverty plan, the city’s then Mayor John Lindsay, a Republican chose Morancie, a fellow party supporter to tackle social issues in the borough and primarily the urgency of residents living in Central Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant community.
Morancie reportedly met the criteria both academically and politically.
Educated at Brooklyn Polytechnic University, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, Cornell University and Brooklyn Law School he qualified for an appointment to lead the charge in Brooklyn for reform of housing conditions. Soon afterwards, he was named director of the Model Cities Program, the principal advocacy agency for fair and affordable housing, improved social services, sports and culture.
Morancie’s accomplishments and reputation became a positive for the party so much so that he was chosen to rival the almost-invincible Shirley Chisholm, a strong Democratic candidate.
Allegedly, T&T Prime Minister Eric Williams was enamored by his countryman’s dedication to improving the lot of others and on occasion encouraged Morancie to return to his birthplace to contribute with nation building of the newly-independent republic. In addition to advocating for the needy, Morancie was admired for his patriotic dedication to T&T.
Some described him as being a “diehard calypso and steel-pan fan.”
He reportedly is responsible for inviting one of Trinidad & Tobago’s major steel orchestras to perform at Radio City Music Hall, one of Manhattan’s principal concert venues.
Morancie is survived by his wife, Gloria; former wife Yvonne, children Michelle, Neal and Craig as well as several grandchildren.