Roy Innis, chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and a civil rights icon, passed away on Sunday.
Innis was a powerful, passionate force who defied stereotypes; he was once a black separatist who became a libertarian conservative, and he was a long-time board member of the NRA. His annual CORE dinners were attended by the likes of George W. and Laura Bush, Howard Cosell, Muhammad Ali, Charlton Heston, Morgan Freeman, Don King, Rudy Giuliani, Ed Koch, Evander Holyfield and Barry Manilow. “Roy pulled together the most eclectic groups you’ve ever seen,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “They showed up as much out of respect for Roy as for CORE.”
Many only know Innis as the man who decked Al Sharpton on the “Morton Downey Show” and who clobbered a skinhead leader on “Geraldo.” “He wasn’t a pacifist, as Al Sharpton and others found out,” said Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state.
Innis was respected for his individuality and courage. He told LaPierre that his advice for young people was “to believe in TLC—truth, logic and courage—and you’ll be OK.”