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
Activist Court Turns the Law Designed to Protect the Firearm Industry from Frivolous Lawsuits on its Head

News  

Friday, March 15, 2019

Activist Court Turns the Law Designed to Protect the Firearm Industry from Frivolous Lawsuits on its Head

On Thursday, the Connecticut Supreme Court created a dangerous new exception to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a strong safeguard for our right to keep and bear arms.  

Yesterday’s Scandal, Today’s Mandate: Anti-gunner Embraces Operation Choke Point as Official Policy

News  

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Yesterday’s Scandal, Today’s Mandate: Anti-gunner Embraces Operation Choke Point as Official Policy

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) unabashedly embraced the tactics behind one of the most shameful policies of the Obama era, openly using the guise of her federal authority to berate and not so ...

Canada’s Senate Holds Hearings on “Rube Goldberg” Gun Control Law, Bill C-71

News  

Friday, March 15, 2019

Canada’s Senate Holds Hearings on “Rube Goldberg” Gun Control Law, Bill C-71

Last month, the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence (SECD) concluded two days of hearings on Bill C-71, the Liberal government’s gun control bill. (An additional hearing date has been set for March 18, ...

Governor Bevin Signs NRA-backed Constitutional Carry

News  

Monday, March 11, 2019

Governor Bevin Signs NRA-backed Constitutional Carry

The NRA applauds Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin for signing Senate Bill 150 into law, an NRA-backed bill that fully recognizes the constitutional right of law-abiding gun owners to carry a concealed firearm.

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, ...

Kentucky Governor Welcomes NRA to Bill Signing Ceremony

News  

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Kentucky Governor Welcomes NRA to Bill Signing Ceremony

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin welcomed NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox to a ceremonial bill signing for SB 150, an NRA-backed bill that fully recognizes the constitutional right of law-abiding gun owners to carry a concealed ...

Washington: Gun Ban Bills Fail Crossover Deadline

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Washington: Gun Ban Bills Fail Crossover Deadline

Today, March 13th at 5:00PM, was the cutoff deadline for all bills to be voted out of the chamber in which they originated.

California: Anti-Gun Joint Resolution Passes Assembly Public Safety Committee

Thursday, March 14, 2019

California: Anti-Gun Joint Resolution Passes Assembly Public Safety Committee

On Tuesday, March 12, the Assembly Public Safety Committee was scheduled to hear anti-gun bills, AB 12, AB 276 and AJR 5.  AB 12 and AB 276 were both pulled from the agenda and are expected ...

Nevada: Bill Introduced to Criminalize Firearm Modifications

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Nevada: Bill Introduced to Criminalize Firearm Modifications

On March 12th, an anti-gun bill was introduced in the Nevada state Senate that would criminalize common firearm modifications. 

Illinois: Gun Tax Legislation Introduced

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Illinois: Gun Tax Legislation Introduced

On February 11th, legislation was introduced (HB 2331) in the Illinois House that would impose a new gun tax on all firearms and firearm components sold in Illinois. 

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.