(A History of) The Harlem chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality

Elaine Parker co-chair with Cyril Boynes, Jr. (1973-1975)

Cyril Boynes, who received his M.A. from NYU, was formerly the chairman of Bronx CORE. In 1972, he and two members of Harlem CORE (his brother Rupert Boynes and vice chairman James Howard) were arrested for kidnapping two students from a Bronx high school and assaulting them at Harlem CORE’s office. The students had been accused of assaulting Roy Innis’s son, Alexander, also a student at the high school.While the press did mention the 1968 killing of Roy Innis' other son, thirteen year old Roy, Jr., the fact that Cyril Boynes is also a nephew of Roy Innis was not mentioned (35). All three eventually pled guilty and received three years probation. Alexander Innis, like his brother, was tragically shot and killed in 1982. Another son, Kwame Innis, was stabbed the year before in his high school but lived. There is nothing to suggest that the violence against Innis’ children was politically motivated, but it may explain Innis’ conservative attitude towards street crime in the 1980’s.

Cora Elaine Parker, or C. Elaine Parker, previously worked on Adam Clayton Powell’s staff, and was a local Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) leader. As a head of the Malcolm X Club of Independent Democrats, she was endorsed by Harlem CORE for District Leader in the 74th Assembly District (long held by Powell before he stepped down). It was uncharacteristic for Innis to allow a woman to lead in Harlem CORE. This may explain why she shared the chairmanship with not only a man but one of Innis’ relatives. Regardless, of the two chairmen, Parker is most often the one mentioned in the press.

While the Harlem CORE membership had shrunk considerably and their glory days of mass demonstrations were long gone, they still organized local functions, for children especially. Most of their energy, however, was spent supporting tasks delegated by the national office, such as the continuing campaign against racist depictions of Blacks by the movie industry. After shutting down a theater showing the most recent Tarzan movie, HC protested against Coonskin, a 1975 animated feature created by Ralph Bakshi which was eventually banned. Even Bill Cosby was forced to apologize in the press for comments he made about Harlem not being a safe place to see his most recent movie.