Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

The NRA Bids Farewell to Roy Innis, Civil Rights Champion: June 6, 1934 – Jan. 8, 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

The NRA Bids Farewell to Roy Innis, Civil Rights Champion: June 6, 1934 – Jan. 8, 2017

America lost a civil rights icon and a true free thinker with the death of Roy Innis on Jan. 8. 

For the NRA, his departure was personal. Mr. Innis served on the NRA’s Board of Directors for nearly 25 years and was a friend to many within the organization. For the nation at large, he was a champion of freedom who exemplified the courage of a man who follows his own convictions.

Born June 6, 1934 in Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Roy Emile Alfredo Innis moved with his mother to New York City in 1947 (his father, a police officer, died when Roy was 6 years old). From ages 16 to 18, he served in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged. He went on to study chemistry at the City College of New York. 

Innis became active in the civil rights struggle during the tumultuous 1960s. Although he claimed he initially joined the Harlem Chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to spend more time with his girlfriend, he distinguished himself as a member and became the organization’s national director in 1968. He would continue to lead CORE until his death.

Roy Innis’s views on the best path to equality and achievement for African Americans often diverged from other civil rights figures of his day. After two of his sons were murdered with firearms in New York City – Roy Jr., 13, in 1968, and Alexander, 26, in 1982 – he became an advocate for self-defense and an opponent of gun control. “Roy's passing leaves a huge void for the NRA and his many good friends among the NRA family,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in tribute. “Rest in peace, my friend.”

By disarming law abiding citizens the government aids and abets crime, he explained to the New York Times. He counseled other African Americans that gun control “was not meant to protect your safety; it was meant to deprive you of your freedom.”

These views led him to become a life member of the National Rifle Association, and he was eventually elected to its board of directors.

Innis was a talented amateur boxer and never one to shy away from any sort of confrontation. He famously manhandled a member of a white supremacist group who insulted him with a racial epithet on the Geraldo Show in 1988 and scuffled with Al Sharpton during another television appearance that same year. Innis would later insist that he and Sharpton were friends both before and after the incident. 

But it was his tendency to embrace conservative and libertarian principles and his support for constitutional originalism that most distinguished his later activism from that of other civil rights figures of the 1960s.

About this, Mr. Innis was unapologetic. “My brand of conservatism is the traditional, most decent and rational expression of the American personality,” he told the New York Times in 1996. ''I believe that the success of America has been the application of pragmatism in society, and that view is particularly unfashionable in the civil rights movement.''

In this regard, he followed a similar path to Charlton Heston, who marched in support of civil rights with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C. in 1963 and later became an iconic NRA president.

During a roundtable about the march, Heston stated

Two years ago, I picketed some restaurants in Oklahoma, but with that one exception -- up until very recently -- like most Americans I expressed my support of civil rights largely by talking about it at cocktail parties, I’m afraid. But again like many Americans this summer, I could no longer pay only lip service to a cause that was so urgently right, and in a time that is so urgently now.

Like Heston, Innis championed controversial causes at times and in ways in which doing so was not comfortable or easy and at the risk of serious personal consequences. Wherever elite or fashionable opinion might have been at any given moment, both were fiercely committed to their own conscience and sense of right and wrong.

That made both a natural fit with the National Rifle Association of America. And that means the loss of Roy Innis will be felt that much more keenly by NRA members and all who appreciate rugged individualism and a constant striving toward a better America for all. 

“Roy's passing leaves a huge void for the NRA and his many good friends among the NRA family,” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in tribute. “Rest in peace, my friend.”

TRENDING NOW
Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

News  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

Levi Strauss & Co. established its brand in the mid-19th century by selling durable clothing to working-class Americans. As Levi’s signature jeans gained popularity amongst a wider set in the middle of the last century, ...

House Democrats Outline Gun Control Agenda for 116th Congress

News  

Friday, November 16, 2018

House Democrats Outline Gun Control Agenda for 116th Congress

With anti-gun Democrats back in control of the House of Representatives come January, now is the time to prepare for a new onslaught on the Second Amendment. Emboldened by the mere thought of controlling the ...

Toledo Mayor Plays Politics With Officer Safety Via New Firearm Procurement Measures

News  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Toledo Mayor Plays Politics With Officer Safety Via New Firearm Procurement Measures

Bad ideas have a way of recurring within gun control circles. And when they do, they are usually accompanied by self-congratulatory rhetoric about their supposedly “innovative” and “forward-thinking” nature. That was certainly the case this ...

NRA Challenges Constitutional Violations in Initiative 1639

News  

Thursday, November 15, 2018

NRA Challenges Constitutional Violations in Initiative 1639

The NRA was joined by the Second Amendment Foundation in filing a lawsuit challenging gun control measures recently passed in Washington ballot initiative I-1639.

Indulgences for Hollywood as Movie Studio Buys Gun Offsets

News  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Indulgences for Hollywood as Movie Studio Buys Gun Offsets

In 2014, Hollywood movie mogul and fierce NRA critic Harvey Weinstein appeared to acknowledge the movie industry might be able to have a positive impact by reducing its glorification of criminal violence. Weinstein explained, I have to ...

Surprise: Physician Group Rehashes Same Tired Gun Control Policies

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Surprise: Physician Group Rehashes Same Tired Gun Control Policies

Everyone has hobbies. Some doctors’ collective hobby is opining on firearms policy. Half of the articles in the “Latest from Annals” email from the Annals of Internal Medicine journal are related to firearms. The most prominent of these ...

Yes, George Soros is a Gun Grabber

News  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Yes, George Soros is a Gun Grabber

In 2015, billionaire gun control financier and potential 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg financed the creation of the anti-gun propaganda outlet The Trace. Ever grateful for their wealthy benefactor’s unfettered largesse, the Bloomberg advocacy group now views less-profligate anti-gun tycoons as ...

Missing the Marx: Gun Control’s Future is … Communism?

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Missing the Marx: Gun Control’s Future is … Communism?

After every high profile crime committed with a firearm of any sort, there are always calls for gun control. But one particular proposal this week managed to distinguish itself amid the usual din, if only ...

California: Cities Backpedal on Over-Reaching & Preempted Local Anti-Gun Ordinances

Friday, November 16, 2018

California: Cities Backpedal on Over-Reaching & Preempted Local Anti-Gun Ordinances

The City of Palm Springs decided to repeal the reporting ordinance to avoid litigation and the City of Saratoga also withdrew an ordinance that would have imposed the same type of reporting limitation on victims of firearm ...

Midterm Elections Offer Motivation to Continue the Fight For Our Rights

News  

Friday, November 9, 2018

Midterm Elections Offer Motivation to Continue the Fight For Our Rights

The votes have all been cast in the 2018 midterm elections. And while the counting and recounting is still under way in some places, the overall picture that has emerged soundly refutes the breathless media narrative of ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.