ALTON HENRY MADDOX, JR.
“His unwavering commitment to fighting for the freedom and rights of Black people left
an undeniable impact on the City of New York and beyond.”
-EBONY Magazine on the passing of Alton Henry Maddox, Jr.
Alton H. Maddox, Jr., the fierce civil and human rights lawyer nationally known as the “The People’s Lawyer” and respected for his commanding presence in the courtroom, legal knowledge, and advocacy for victims of police abuse and defense of the underserved, passed at 77 on April 23, 2023 – in the 50th anniversary year of his legal career.
Born to The Rev. Henry Maddox, Sr., and Nicie Simms Maddox on July 21, 1945, in Inkster, Michigan, Maddox was raised in Newnan, Georgia. The young scholar attended the county’s public schools, and later, in 1967 graduated from Howard University with a BA, then obtained his JD in 1971 from Boston College Law School. In NYC, he launched his career with Harlem Legal Services in 1973, and began his legal practice in 1981.
Maddox represented victims in several high-profile cases, including the family of Michael Stewart (a Brooklyn man who died while in the custody of NYC Transit Police). He was the attorney for Cedric Sandiford, one of three men chased and attacked by a group of white men in Howard Beach in 1983; the family of Michael Griffith who was killed during the same Howard Beach incident; and Tawana Brawley who accused four white men of kidnapping and raping her in 1987.
The family of murder victim, Yusuf Hawkins attacked by a mob in Bensonhurst, was also one of Maddox’s clients. His long list of defendants also included Michael Briscoe, who was arrested during an investigation into the alleged rape of the Central Park jogger. He was the defense lawyer for one of the two men hired by Marla Hanson’s landlord to disfigure her. He represented Al Sharpton when the Civil Rights leader faced a 67-count indictment alleging fraud and theft. Sharpton was acquitted of all charges.
In addition to serving as Chair of the United African Movement, Maddox was director of the National Conference of Black Lawyers Juvenile Defense Project. He founded the Center for Law & Social Justice at Medgar Evers College and co-sponsored the 1983 congressional Hearings on Police Brutality in New York City.
Charles Maddox notes that his father met Leola Weaver on a blind date. Following that first meeting, the two dated and their friendship blossomed into marriage three months later from their union, one son, Charles, was born.
Leola Maddox shared her recollection of Alton’s marriage proposal in an Our Time Press interview published in 2009, and printed by Charles in the family obituary: “Alton went to law school before we got married. His thing was ‘you know that I want to work with poor people and you know there is no money at a law firm whose clients are poor.’ He asked me, “would you be okay with that?’ when you go into it knowing the truth, that you’re not going to be rolling in dough, it doesn’t bother you if you have to sell hotdogs, you sell hotdogs?”
A devoted father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Maddox loved spending time with his family, Charles recalls: “My father had a ‘fun side.’ He was an enthusiastic New York Knicks, Yankees, and Giants fan and he loved to travel. He once journeyed to Asia with John Beatty, Harlem’s Cotton Club CEO/Owner, to explore opening a Cotton Club in Japan.”
Charles also noted that Maddox enjoyed traveling with his grandchildren, often taking them on excursions to Seattle, Washington and San Diego, California to experience the world’s largest Zoo and Sea World. He often took them pleasure to Washington, D.C. with his grands to expose them to Black Arts and Letters and the HBCU culture.
A recurring contributor to New York City’s African-American publications, Maddox was also a frequent guest on WLIB-AM radio’s Sharp Talk program hosted by The Reverend Al Sharpton. He was a much sought-after keynote speaker at numerous colleges and rallies and was a pre-event speaker for the 1995 Million Man March led by Minister Louis Farrakhan.
Preceded in death by Leola Maddox (d. 2017), Alton H. Maddox, Jr. leaves to cherish his life and uphold his legacy; son Charles E. Maddox, Sr.; two grandchildren, Malaysia and Charles, Jr. and six great-grandchildren; Kamari, Amir, Khalil, Devin Fountain, Avia, and Asiyah, and a host of friends, a few who are noted during a series of stories presented in a recurring series, through last week in July.
New York funeral services for Attorney Alton Maddox were held at The Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem on Monday May 1st. Today, services will be held at Providence Baptist Church, Newnan, GA
Interment: Sunset Cemetery in
-Bernice Elizabeth Green
David Mark Greaves
and Maddox Family