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Separatist CORE leader passes

Jan 11 2017

Former CORE chairman and black separatist Roy Innis passed away in Manhattan on Sunday, 8 January 2017, due to complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 82.

Born in 1934 to Alexander and Georgianna Thomas Innis in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Roy Emile Alfredo Innis lost his father by the age of six and moved to New York by the age of 12. Innis graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and studied chemistry at City College of New York until 1958. He then worked as a research chemist for Vicks Chemical Company and Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx.

Once he joined the Harlem chapter of CORE in 1963, Innis quickly rose through the ranks to become chapter chairman by 1965 and national director by 1968. Innis found himself much more in line with the traditions of Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey than Martin Luther King, Jr., advocating against integration, and proclaiming CORE a black nationalist organization. As such, Innis purged the organization of white staff.

Later, his separatist ideology converged with the Republican Party platform as Innis supported the presidential campaigns of Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan. In 1982, he became CORE’s national chairman.

Setting his own sights towards national politics, Innis challenged Brooklyn Representative Major R. Owens in the 1986 Democratic primary, pledging to sit with Republicans if he won. He also challenged incumbent New York Mayor David N. Dinkins in the 1993 Democratic primary, in a campaign purporting to speak for the silent majority. He lost both races.

Innis is survived by 10 children, two sisters, and many grandchildren.

For more on Innis's life, see

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King Institute