Otis W. McDonald, a champion of the U.S. Constitution, was posthumously named as the first recipient of the NRA Roy Innis Liberty Award during the recent NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Indianapolis. McDonald’s family received the award, which was presented by Niger Innis, the son of Roy Innis, a longtime member of the NRA Board of Directors and former chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (core).
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Otis W. McDonald for his courage, his commitment and his sacrifice to take a stand and be steadfast in his belief in the United States Constitution,” said Lt.Col. Allen West, NRA Director and vice chairman of the NRA Outreach Committee.
McDonald’s heroic efforts to restore Second Amendment rights of Chicago citizens following a generation of restriction and denial by the city culminated with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in McDonald v. the City of Chicago.
The Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment applies to the states and local governments through the 14th Amendment, and that it extended to the whole nation. The ruling ended Chicago’s nearly three-decade handgun ban and forced the city to allow citizens to keep firearms in their homes for self-defense.
Receiving the award was McDonald’s wife, Laura Lee McDonald, daughters Chandra McDonald and Sheila McDonald-Jordon, and granddaughter Lauren Jordon.
“On behalf of my father, Otis McDonald, we thank you. It has been an honor to come here. Thank you for supporting him during his journey while he was here on this earth and thank you for continuing to support him and our family. Excuse the tears, but I feel my father’s presence so strong in here,” Sheila said.
A framed resolution passed by the NRA Board of Directors memorializing Otis McDonald was presented to the family by NRA Secretary John Frazer.
“[Roy Innis] was a never-ending defender of the Bill of Rights, all of it, and of the Second Amendment," said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. "And because of that, because he didn’t bend to what the media wanted him to bend to, or bend to what the politically correct, elite people wanted him to bend to, he faced some of the harshest criticism I’ve ever seen. With all the backstabbing and the name calling, Roy never lost his sense of humor.”
LaPierre declared Innis was a true American hero, as a civil-rights advocate marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, and serving as chairman of core, leading that organization to fight for the equal opportunity of all Americans regardless of race. He also saluted the civil-rights leader’s service as longtime chairman and chairman emeritus of the NRA Urban Affairs Committee, now the NRA Outreach Committee.
After Innis’ death in 2017, the Outreach Committee agreed an award should be named after Roy Innis in honor of his indomitable spirit to defend the Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment.
Taking the stage, Outreach Committe Chairman Willes K. Lee spoke to Innis’ character. “Folks, if you want to understand the honor, the tenacity, the commitment, and the courage of Roy Innis, look up ‘Buffalo Soldier’. Roy embodied the indomitable, unconquerable spirit of a ‘Buffalo Soldier’.”
Lee explained the award criteria must require a nominee to have a proven track record of raising awareness of and participating in supporting Second Amendment rights among under-represented populations—minorities, women and disabled NRA members. He noted the nominee must have a proven record of coming to the aid and defense of those facing persecution or prosecution for the legal and appropriate use of their Second Amendment rights in the United States. The recipient must be living, except under extraordinary circumstances. Both the committee and NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre agreed that Mr. McDonald deserved the award posthumously.