Roy Innis was born in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He moved from the U.S. Virgin Islands to New York City with his mother in 1946.
Innis joined CORE’s Harlem chapter in 1963. In 1964, he was elected Chairman of the chapter’s education committee and became a forceful advocate of community-controlled education and black empowerment. He led CORE’s fight for an independent Police Review Board to address cases of police brutality. In 1965, he was elected Chairman of Harlem CORE, after which he mounted a vigorous campaign for establishment of an independent Board of Education for Harlem. A proposition to this end was presented to the 1967 New York State Constitutional Convention.
Innis was elected National Director of CORE in 1968. In the same year, he drafted the Community Self - Determination Bill of 1968 and garnered bipartisan sponsorship of this bill by one-third of the Senate and over 50 congressmen. This was the first time in U.S. history that a bill drafted by a black organization was introduced into Congress.
Roy Innis is a nationally known advocate of 2nd amendment rights.
While colleagues (friends and foes) consider some of his ideas to be controversial, Innis bases his positions always on the sound principles of "truth, logic and courage."