Congress of Racial Equality

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Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was originally a leading civil rights organisation that has more recently aligned with conservative think tanks and anti-environmental campaigns (e.g. see Roy Innis).

In 1993, James Farmer -- who founded the organization in 1942 -- said, "CORE has no functioning chapters; it holds no conventions, no elections, no meetings, sets no policies, has no social programs and does no fund-raising. In my opinion, CORE is fraudulent." [1]

Against climate change legislation

In June 2009, CORE's Roy Innis sharply criticized the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill, which would establish a "cap and trade" system to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Innis said "it was an 'elitist view' that higher prices for fossil fuels would prompt conservation and that 'the poor and working families we represent cannot bear that luxury.'" Innis added, "Americans don't want 'energy welfare payments' from the government to help ease the sting of these government-driven cost increases." [2]

Innis added, in a statement to Congress, "In my 40-plus years as the chairman of CORE, I have seen few federal bills that would do more harm to America’s working class and low-income citizens and families than the Waxman-Markey climate tax bill." [3]

In a September 2009 luncheon talk at the Montana Petroleum Association's annual meeting (which included a golf tournament), CORE's Niger Innis "called for the production of 'more of everything,' including renewable energy like solar and wind power and 'good old-fashioned fossil fuel,'" reported the Billings Gazette. Innis called Waxman-Markey a "cap and tax" bill, and accused "the green mafia" and the "elite media" of trying to stop energy production. [4]

"Don't freeze us out" campaign pushes for oil and gas exploration

In December 2008, CORE and the conservative values group High Impact Leadership Coalition (HILC) announced a a campaign called "don't freeze us out," which supports "a Bush administration auction in Utah of oil and gas leases, some near national parks." Environmentalists, including Robert Redford, are urging President-elect Barack Obama to overturn the already-completed auction. CORE's Niger Innis vowed, "We are not going to stand by as Robert Redford tries to slow the flow of home heating fuel from the Rockies and drive up home heating prices to millions of Americans in his lust for environmental headlines." [5]

According to a CORE press release, the "don't freeze us out" campaign "will seek to organize churches, civil rights groups, consumer groups and others 'to fight Redford and self-styled environmental groups that are working to constrict supplies of natural gas and other energy resources.'" Innis "also recently appeared at a press conference in Washington ... in support of the Americans for American Energy Act sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah." [5]

CORE and HILC protested Redford outside the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, in January 2009. Protesters included CORE's Niger Innis, HILC's Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., Bishop Phillip Porter of Colorado Consumers for Affordable Energy, Bishop Bobbie Allen and former Cincinnati Councilman Sam Malone. "Using federal studies and statistics, The Wilderness Society calculated the natural gas recoverable from the 77 contested parcels would be the equivalent of two days of national consumption. The oil recoverable from those parcels would last 1 hour and 40 minutes at today's consumption rate," the Salt Lake Tribune reported. [6] [7]

In February 2009, new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that "he would void dozens of oil and gas leases on sensitive federal lands in southeastern Utah," and proceed cautiously with "oil shale development in the state." The department is expected to rule on "12 to 15 decisions made at the tail end of the Bush administration," deciding "whether to reverse them or let them stand" by March 2009. CORE's Niger Innis criticized the department's stand, saying, "The only winners in this decision are the Hollywood elites who use our western states for a personal playground, burn a lot of energy to keep their private jets aloft and their mansions warm, and don't notice if energy costs go up." [8]

"Stop the war on the poor" pro-drilling campaign

In July 2008, CORE -- along with the pro-drilling front group Americans for American Energy and the conservative values group High Impact Leadership Coalition -- launched a campaign to "Stop the War on the Poor." The goal of the campaign was to increase U.S. domestic oil and gas production. [9]

The campaign was launched at a Washington DC rally on July 15, 2008. Rally speakers stressed "the need to expand domestic oil and gas production with the goal of reducing fuel costs for low-income households that feel a disproportionate pinch from rising energy prices," reported Greenwire. Signs at the rally included "My family needs affordable energy" and "Environmental groups don't feed my family." CORE received $250,000 in funding from ExxonMobil from 2003-2005[10]. CORE's Niger Innis said the group favors "government spending on oil shale, coal and drilling on the continental shelf and throughout Alaska," because "when these resources are developed ... that is going to have a direct impact on the price of fuel." While some rally attendees told Greenwire about their difficulties "budgeting around today's gasoline prices," others "backd away from a reporter with a notebook. ... One woman, who declined to give her name, said she was demonstrating at her boss's behest." [9]

Other stances at odds with environmental groups

At the International Conference on Climate Change (2009), a global warming skeptics conference organized by the Heartland Institute think tank, CORE's Niger Innis said that "a lot of people are searching for the right thing to believe in and [have been] captured by a corrupted ideology," a "green" religion. However, he claimed the "green" religion puts the interests of Western environmentalists over the basic needs of people in the developing world. He added, "Coal and natural gas are the new civil rights battleground, because without these sources, 'we' cannot enjoy this great society." [11]

In a March 2007 statement released by the National Center for Public Policy Research, Niger Innis was quoted as saying: "Environmentalists always claim to be stakeholders. But every day that they succeed in delaying the use of DDT and other insecticides, another 3,000 to 5,000 people die from malaria. Those victims and the half billion who get this disease every year, who lie in bed shaking with convulsions, who can't work or go to school, who end up with permanent brain damage from malaria--they are the real stakeholders. It's their views that count." [12]

CORE took part in an April 2004 Earth Day event at the National Press Club in Washington DC warning of "eco-imperialism." The event was organized by Paul Driessen, the author of a book title, "Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death." Driessen has also been identified as a senior policy advisor to CORE. [13] CORE's Roy Innis was quoted in the press release announcing the event as saying: "Safeguarding environmental values is essential ... But we must stop trying to protect our planet from every imaginable, exaggerated or imaginary risk. And we must stop trying to protect it on the backs, and the graves, of the nation's and world's most powerless and impoverished people." [14]

Defense of Marriage Act campaign

In January 2009, CORE joined the Alliance for Marriage Foundation's campaign in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. The Act, which became law in 1996, which effectively bans same-sex marriage at the federal level. CORE's Niger Innis remarked, referring to California's Proposition 8 which halted same-sex marriage in the state, "In California, over 70% of the African-American community rejected the redefinition of marriage. That's because my community -- perhaps more than any other -- understands in very real terms the consequences of family breakdown. When marriage declines, children and society both suffer." [15]

Against gun control

In February 2009, CORE joined the Independence Institute, Institute for Justice, Constitutional Accountability Center and others, in submitting a "friend of the court" letter in favor of the National Rifle Association's lawsuit against the City of Chicago's and the Village of Oak Park's handgun bans. The lawsuit, before the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, refers to the U.S. Supreme Court's June 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which overturned Washington, DC's ban on handguns. [16]


According to the organization's 2005 financial report, CORE raised $1,335,095 that year, including $55,022 in membership dues and $1,037,325 in unspecified contributions, grants or gifts. In 2005, CORE had $1,220,946 in total expenses, including $171,638 in officer / director compensation, $378,117 in other salaries and wages, $166,795 in rent, and $142,310 in travel. [17]

According to the Village Voice, with regard to fundraising, "Ethical or moral questions at CORE have been raised as far back as 1976, when the state received complaints that CORE was browbeating companies into donations. In 1981, the state accused CORE of illegal fundraising practices, questioning the way the group represented itself. Under a settlement agreement, Innis, CORE's chairman, admitted no wrongdoing, but had to pay $35,000 to CORE out of his own funds. Innis charged racism." [1]

ExxonMobil has given CORE $275,000 from 2003 to 2006, including $15,000 for "Climate Change Outreach Efforts" in 2003, $75,000 for "Climate Change Regulation/Legislation" and $60,000 for "Global Climate Change Issues" in 2004, and $75,000 for "Global Climate change Environmental Outreach" in 2005. [18]

"At a 2004 ExxonMobil shareholders' meeting, [Paul] Driessen referred to CORE as 'one of America’s oldest and most respected civil rights organizations' and called for greater funding for the group," according to Chris Mooney.[19]


Board members

As of November 2005: [20]

Contact information

Congress of Racial Equality
National Headquarters
817 Broadway 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10003

Phone: (212) 598-4000 or (800) 439-CORE (2673)
Fax: (212) 598-4141 or (212) 982-0184

Email: core AT

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 Nick Charles, "Equal Opportunity Scam: CORE Hustles White Firms With Race," Village Voice, April 22, 2003.
  2. Renee Schoof, "Climate bill will pass House on Friday, lawmaker predicts," McClatchy Newspapers, June 2009.
  3. Mannix Porterfield, "Byrd remains 'bullish’' on coal’s future: Cap bill worries Sen. Rockefeller," The Register-Herald (West Virginia), June 29, 2009.
  4. Clair Johnson, "Civil rights spokesman speaks to Montana Petroleum Association," The Billings Gazette (Montana), September 2, 2009.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Lee Davidson, "Group protests Redford's stand on drilling," Deseret News (Utah), December 31, 2008.
  6. Patty Henetz, "Protesters label Redford an enemy of the poor: Clergymen link famed moviemaker's stance to racism," Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), January 14, 2009.
  7. Rebecca Walsh, "How to work the media," Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), January 14, 2009.
  8. M.E. Sprengelmeyer, "Ken Salazar says U.S. keeping options open on Roan Plateau," Rocky Mountain News (Colorado), February 6, 2009.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Jenny Mandel, "Industry group uses civil-rights theme in bid for expanded drilling," Greenwire (Environment & Energy Publishing, sub req'd), July 17, 2008.
  10. Foundation Center, "Foundation Directory Online (sub req'd), July 29, 2008.
  11. Ed Hiserodt, "CORE Leader Blasts Global-warming Alarmists," The New American, March 24, 2009.
  12. "Fighting Environmentalists to Use DDT to Fight Malaria in Africa," States News Service, March 23, 2007.
  13. Paul K. Driessen and Niger Innis, "When visions collide: The Rainforest Action Network’s real target is the Third World’s poor,", January 2005.
  14. Press release, "Eco-Imperialism: Reflections on Earth Day," Paul Driessen via PR Newswire, April 22, 2004.
  15. Dr. Richard Swier, "AFM and CORE Announce Joint Partnership to Protect DOMA," "Red County" (Sarasota County, Florida), January 23, 2009.
  16. "Several Diverse Coalitions File Amicus Briefs in Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Supporting NRA Lawsuit in Illinois," National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, February 6, 2009.
  17. "CORE 2006 form 990," via GuideStar (sub req'd), accessed July 2008.
  18. "Factsheet: Congress of Racial Equality,", Greenpeace, accessed July 2008.
  19. Chris Mooney, "Black Gold?" Mother Jones, May/June 2005.
  20. "NY Chapter of CORE," GuideStar profile, accessed July 2008.

External resources

External articles