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Roy Innis


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National Chairman & Chief Executive Officer



Roy Innis was born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He moved from the U.S. Virgin Islands to New York City with his mother in 1946 where he attended Stuyvesant High School. At age 16, Innis joined the U.S. Army and at age 18 he received an honorable discharge. He entered a four-year program in Chemistry at City College of New York. He subsequently held positions as a research chemist at Vick Chemical Company and Montefiore Hospital.


Innis joined CORE’s Harlem chapter in 1963. In 1964, he was elected Chairman of the chapter’s education committee and became a forceful advocate of community-controlled education and black empowerment. He led CORE’s fight for an independent Police Review Board to address cases of police brutality. In 1965, he was elected Chairman of Harlem CORE, after which he mounted a vigorous campaign for establishment of an independent Board of Education for Harlem. A proposition to this end was presented to the 1967 New York State Constitutional Convention.


In the spring of 1967, Innis was appointed the first resident fellow at the Metropolitan Applied Research Center (MARC), headed by Dr. Kenneth Clark. In the summer of 1967, he was elected Second National Vice-Chairman of CORE. Also, in 1967, Innis and nine other black men formed the Harlem Commonwealth Council (HCC), an investment corporation whose long-term goal was to create independence and stability in Harlem. As the first Executive Director at HCC, Innis laid the ground work for what has become a highly successful model of economic development in a black community. During that same period, he was the co-editor and founder of the Manhattan Tribune Newspaper. 


Innis was elected National Director of CORE in 1968. In the same year, he drafted the Community Self - Determination Bill of 1968 and garnered bipartisan sponsorship of this bill by one-third of the Senate and over 50 congressmen. This was the first time in U.S. history that a bill drafted by a black organization was introduced into Congress.


Responding to the continuing crisis centering on school integration, Innis offered an alternative plan consisting of community control of educational institutions. As part of this effort, in October, 1970, CORE filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in connection with Swann vs the Charlotte Mackleburg Board of Education.  Seeking to enhance and build on the black pride movement of the mid-60’s, Innis and a CORE delegation toured seven African countries in 1971. He met with several Heads of State, including Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere and Liberia’s William Tolbert. In 1973, Innis became the first American to attend the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in an official capacity.  In 1973 he participated in a televised debate with Nobel Physicist William Shockley on the topic of black genetic inferiority. 


In 1977, under Innis’ leadership, CORE rescued a South Bronx Catholic school that was about to be closed. Working closely with teachers and parents, he established the CORE Community School with more than 200 students.


Roy Innis’ involvement in criminal justice matters spans his entire career in CORE. Innis’ investigation in the early 80’s led to the uncovering of evidence that Wayne Williams was not solely responsible for the Atlanta Child Murders. His defense of victims’ rights to defend themselves led to his support and involvement in highly publicized cases such as: the "subway gunman," Bernhard Goetz; "subway token booth clerk", James Grimes; the "candyman good Samaritan", Andy Fredericks; the "black Bernie Goetz", Austin Weeks; and the accused "remember me subway shooter" Clemente Jackson. Roy Innis is a nationally known advocate of 2nd amendment rights.


Some of his activities include: investigating and exposing the Tawana Brawley hoax; overseeing and participating in a citizen’s anti-drug campaign, "One Street At A Time"; championing the rights of immigrants; fighting against public indecency and predatory crime in an all-out effort to clean up New York’s crime-ridden streets and subway system. Innis is currently pioneering a multifaceted on-the-job training program for welfare mothers geared to reducing the 1,100,000 welfare roll in New York City.


While colleagues (friends and foes) consider some of his ideas to be controversial, Innis bases his positions always on the sound principles of "truth, logic and courage." 


Faithful to this principle, in the 1993 New Your City mayoral primary, Innis challenged incumbent David Dinkins - the first black person to hold that office. His mayoral campaign was the most cost- effective and productive in the history of NY City. He was competitive in over one half of the city’s voting districts, winning a borough and 14 assembly districts outright. The mayor outspent Innis by over 40 to 1.


Innis led teams of prominent Americans to Nigeria in 1996, ‘97 and 1998 to monitor the elections which are part of the transition process from military to civilian rule. He also filed election monitoring reports to both the U.S. Congress and President Clinton. He visited Liberia to assess events during and after the inauguration of President Charles W. Taylor. He visited Sierra Leone to assess recent conditions with ECOMOG troops.


Organizational Affiliations: Member of Boards: The Coalition for Fairness to Africa; The Hudson Institute; Daemen College; American Alliance For Better Schools; Landmark Legal Foundation; National Ethnic Coalition Of Organizations; National Rifle Association; African American Fund For Higher Education; Associate Member: Fraternal Order of Police.


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