Tuesday, May 15, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer
            A prominent Republican former governor has sent what some are saying is a “racist sounding”  “dog whistle” about mounting black political power in North Carolina, and at least one Democratic member of Congress has called it “appalling.”            
Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12), who represents the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area in her congressional district, was among several public officials last week outraged by former Gov. Pat McCrory’s remarks, chiding the election of so many black-elected officials to government leadership there.
“I’m worried about the segregated aspects of Charlotte-Mecklenburg politics, and lack of diversity we might have,” the Republican former governor, who many recall enthusiastically signed the 2013 law restricting early voting and instituting voter ID before it was eventually struck down, told his listeners the morning after the May 8thprimary.
            McCrory has since claimed that he was acting as a “political analyst,” and not a partisan when he expressed dismay last week on his daily WBT-AM radio show about the successful influence of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Political Caucus, and the fact that so many of the candidates it endorsed won their primaries, including candidates for sheriff and district attorney. 
            “We see now that the Black Political Caucus is the major influencer in who wins the Democratic primary,” McCrory warned.
            Arthur Griffin, chair of the Black Political Caucus, reacted by not only noting that the caucus is nonpartisan, and has endorsed many white candidates in the past. In his view, he thought McCrory’s remarks are a “…political dog whistle to say, let’s engage in this racial politics thing.”
            McCrory, who served as Charlotte’s mayor for 12 years before he was elected governor, also openly lamented that the Queen City’s current black mayor, Vy Lyles, said nothing in support of the white Democratic incumbents, like the sheriff, during the primary.
“McCrory’s comments are appalling but not very surprising,” Rep. Adams said in a statement. 
 “I wonder if the former Governor will speak up about the gerrymandering that has led to a majority Republican North Carolina General Assembly and Congressional delegation?” she asked rhetorically.
Irving Joyner, law professor at North Carolina Central University in Durham, and one of the lead attorneys who battled McCrory’s voter ID law, slammed the Republican, saying that his “feigned alarmed” was very similar to white warnings of black political progress after the Wilmington election of 1898, which resulted, then, in bloodshed against blacks.
“[His words are…] seemingly designed to arouse the attention, emotion and opposition of his extreme conservative base around the State,” Joyner said in a statement. 
“We need to be wary of similar comments by McCrory and others which have the perceived intent of polarizing political participation on the basis of race. We must be vigilant to resist a return to the "race baiting" which spearheaded political participation in 1898.  and resulted in the institution of almost 90 years of "Jim Crow" politics in North Carolina and the South.

WAFFLE HOUSE INCIDENT - Questions remain regarding the alleged incident of police brutality at the Waffle house in Warsaw May 4th, where a a video purported shows a white police officer grabbing a 22-year-old black man by his throw and throwing him down to the ground prior to arresting him. The victim, Anthony Wall, appeared at a press conference Monday with attorneys Benjamin Crump and Allen Rodgers

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Was the violent videotaped May 4tharrest of 22-year-old Anthony Wall of Fayetteville by a Warsaw police officer outside of a Warsaw Waffle House, and its aftermath, a case of excessive police force?
            Attorney Benjamin Crump, well-known nationally for his advocacy of alleged police abuse victims, says yes, and appeared with Wall, and Fayetteville attorney Allen Rogers, Monday during a press conference in front of the Cumberland County Courthouse.
            Crump says he wants to see police dash-cam video, as well as video from inside the Waffle House restaurant, to determine all of what was said and done, leading up to and including the now infamous smart-phone video that purportedly shows Warsaw Police Officer Frank Moss with his hand tightly around Wall’s throat, slamming the young man against the Waffle House store window outside, and then body slamming the young man to the parking lot pavement. 
            The video has spurred cries from no less than The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and even the daughter of late civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center in Atlanta, who tweeted upon reading a story about the incident, "Family, let's stay out of Waffle House until thecorporate office legitimately and seriously commits to 1. discussion on racism, 2. employee training and 3. other plans to change; and until they start to implement changes."
            Rev. King was referring to not just the May4th Warsaw incident, but an earlier controversy at a Waffle House in Alabama where white police officers arrested a young black woman, wrestling her to the ground, and according to video of the event, exposing her breasts while handcuffing, with one officer threatening to “break her arm” if she did not comply.
            The NAACP Legal Defense Fund called the Warsaw incident, and specifically that police officer’s alleged chokehold of Anthony Wall, “grossly inappropriate.”
            The video of what happened to Wall outside of Waffle House May 4thhas raised questions as to whether Officer Moss could have employed a far less lethal manner to subdue Wall after an allegedly boisterous confrontation between the Fayetteville man had with Waffle House staff inside the restaurant.
            Wall had escorted his 16-year-old niece to her prom, and had taken her to the restaurant afterwards to eat. However, apparently because of a busy night, all of the tables had not been cleaned for them to be seated, reportedly.
            Wall and his niece sat down at a dirty table, reportedly, and words were exchanged with a Waffle House employee.
            A video posted to the Duplin TimesFacebook page from inside the Waffle House shows a young black man closely resembling Anthony Wall, along with a young black female, both formally dressed, standing at a table, yelling and cussing at Waffle House personnel. There are other African-American teenagers in the video that also apparently attended a prom.
            The next scene in the video shows a different angle of the Officer Moss arrest of Wall. He already has the young man down on the ground, and another officer in a dark uniform is assisting in handcuffing wall before he is taken away.
            Wall was eventually charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He said he offered no resistance while being arrested outside.
            At Monday’s press conference, flanked by his attorneys, the young man alleged that he was mistreated by police personnel after his arrest, which included being thrown into a police cruiser with an aggressive K-9 police dog.
            Atty Crump indicated that a lawsuit is most likely in the offing against the Warsaw Police Dept., and most likely Waffle House, as well. He alleged that his client was the target of gay slurs from at least one Waffle House employee, thus causing the confrontation before Offer Moss arrived.
            The open question now is, once Moss did arrive after he was called by the Waffle House staff, how did he try to defuse the volatile situation, and did he consider the admittedly angry Wall such a threat, that the officer was justified in using near lethal force?
            The black mayor of Warsaw, Rev. A. J. Connor, says yes.
            In a video message last week, Mayor Connor said that Officer Moss was justified in containing young Wall in the violent manner that he did because the “…young man  had broken the law,…and refused to cooperate…”
            The mayor added that the State Bureau of Investigation in probing the matter. So is the Warsaw Police Dept.
            Officer Moss remains on the job during the course of the investigation.
            Atty Crump, a native of Lumberton, called what happened to Anthony Wall “…a gross violation of his civil and human rights.”
            In his video, Mayor Connor insisted that what happened to Anthony Wall was not “race-related.”
            But atty Crump and others disagree, asking if Anthony Wall were white, would he of been treated in the same fashion?

POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN KICKOFF - Demonstrators linked arms and blocked the flow of traffic on Jones Street in front of the NC Legislative Building Monday in an act of "direct action" civil disobedience, in concert with similar acts in 38 other state capitols Monday as part of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival [video frame courtesy of Cash Michaels]

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            In 39 state capitols Monday – from Raleigh, NC to Sacramento, California - protestors holding signs saying, “ Systematic Racism is Immoral, and “Fight Poverty, Not the Poor,” vowed to steer the nation and public policy back towards caring about the least of us.
            Organizers called it “the most expansive wave of nonviolent civil disobedience in U.S. history.”
            Then, to emphasize the point, protestors committed deliberate “direct acts” of civil disobedience, and promised more of the same over the upcoming six-week period, to put the spotlight on issues such as racial and economic injustice, militarism, and the need for affordable health care.
            The North Carolina “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival,” launched May 14thwith approximately 250 demonstrators  gathered in Bicentennial Mall across from the NC Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh, in over 90 degree heat, demanding sweeping changes in policies addressing poverty, and education.
            According to organizers, “53 people were cited for impeding the flow of traffic in front of the North Carolina General Assembly” on Jones Street  (The Raleigh Police Dept. confirmed 49 people were issued citations for the same misdemeanor offense).
            In Washington, D.C., former NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber, and Rev. Liz Theoharis, the co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign, were arrested along with hundreds of other demonstrators from across the United States. In each participating state, the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1968 unfinished Poor People’s Campaign was invoked, along with a vow to this time, see it to the end.
            “We’re living in an impoverished democracy, Rev. Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach, a sponsoring social justice organization, said. “People across the country are standing up against the lie of scarcity. We know that in the richest country in the world, there is no reason for children to go hungry, for the sick to be denied health care, and for citizens to have their votes suppressed.”
            Those who spoke Monday at the Poor People’s Campaign rally in Raleigh’s Bicentennial Plaza called for an end to repressive public policies coming from the Republican-led NC General Assembly, and the Trump Administration in Washington, D.C..
            When the time for direct action came, designated protestors locked arms, and left the Bicentennial Plaza, walking to Jones Street in front of the Legislative Building. There, under the watchful eye of State Capitol, and later Raleigh Police, participants – black, white, young, old, and even handicapped -  formed a large circle in the street, and with the exception of moving to a shaded area under a tree, stayed in the street with their arms locked, singing and chanting.
            As Raleigh Police officers asked each one to move out of the street, and they refused, they were taken, without force or handcuffs, out of the line, and walked beyond the police lines to waiting patrol cars, where they were given written citations.
            North Carolina organizers promise to repeat again next Monday, May 21st, when the Poor People’s Campaign addresses racism and immigration.


            [RALEIGH] A Wake County grand jury this week indicted a Wake Sheriff’s deputy, and two MNC State troopers for the April 3rdbeating a a 29-year-old black man, apparently for no reason. Kyron Dwain Hinton says he’s pleased that the law enforcement officers – Deputy Cameron Broadwell, and troopers Michael Blake and Tabitha Davis – were indicted with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, and willfully failing to discharge duties. 
Hinton says he was assaulted and arrested while walking home from a sweepstakes parlor late April 3rd. The arrest warrant alleged that he was pointing his hand in the air as if he’d had a gun, and ignored commands to get on the ground. The warrant also alleged that he physically resisted being handcuffed, and the deputy’s K-9 unit dog had to be used to restrain him.
But Hinton counters that he did nothing wrong, was unarmed, and was beaten up against a patrol car with their flashlights, and the dog was allowed to attack him and bite him on the arm. Hinton sustained injuries to his face, head and torso, along with a broken eye socket. All charges against him were dismissed by the Wake District Attorney’s Office. A local television station is seeking footage from the body cameras worn by gthe officers that night.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018



By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            If the May 8thprimary election is any indication, North Carolina African-American candidates will be front and center for the Nov. 6thmid-term elections later this year.
            In Greensboro, Avery Crump, 45, became not only the first woman ever to lead the Guilford County District Attorney’s Office, but certainly the first African-American female ever to do so. Crump won the Democratic primary by 53.5 percent. There is no Republican opponent for November, so unless a write-in candidate emerges, Crump, an alumna of NC Central University School of Law and former district court judge, will indeed become the next Guilford County D.A.
            In Durham, two shocking victories for the political establishment there.
            Another black woman has taken the reins of power in the county prosecutor’ office. Satana Deberry, executive director of the N.C. Housing Coalition, unseated incumbent Roger Echols, with 48.8 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
            Nichols, also an African-American, had been Durham district attorney since 2014. He garnered just 40.6 percent of the vote. Defense attorney Daniel Meier trailed with just over 10 percent.
            Deberry, also an attorney, vowed to change the culture of the Durham District Attorney’s Office if elected. Since there was no Republican primary, Deberry is effectively the new D.A. once the primary results are certified, and Echols finishes his term.
            But the primary election drama in Durham isn’t finished, as voters went to the polls and decided they needed a new sheriff.
            If the numbers hold, they voted decisively.
            Former Duke University campus police chief, Clarence Birkhead, unseated one-term incumbent Durham Sheriff Mike Andrews, 69 to 31 percent. With no Republican primary, that makes Birkhead, an African-American, the next sheriff once Andrews steps down.
            Andrews, who had a lot of traditional law enforcement support, drew heat because he was willing to work with federal ICE agents on detaining illegal immigrants for deportation. Birkhead opposed that, plus vowed to improve law enforcement’s relationship with communities of color.
            In congressional primary races involving African-Americans, Rep. G.K Butterfield had no opposition in the First, but will face a Republican opponent in the fall.
            Former state legislator Linda Coleman pulled off a Democratic primary victory in the Second Congressional District, defeating two other opponents. She will try to unseat Republican incumbent George Holding, a Trump loyalist, in November.
            And 12thDistrict Congresswoman Alma Adams not only promised to beat her three Democratic primary opponents, but make sure that they knew they were beat. She did, and will also face Republican opposition in the fall.
            Headed east to Robeson County, John Campbell, a minister and long-time local school board member, advanced in his Democratic primary race to become a state senator representing District 13 in the NC Senate. Campbell won his primary against Bobby Jacobs-Ghaffar, who had dropped out of the race in March, but whose name was still on the ballot.
            Campbell will now seek to defeat Republican state Sen. Danny Britt in November.
            In Mecklenburg County, African-American candidates also did well, with long time prosecutor Spencer Merriweather winning the Democratic primary for district attorney. He current serves as interim, and will take office in 2019.
            And former police detective Garry McFadden, who also campaigned against cooperating with ICE agents if elected, will now get his chance as the new Mecklenburg County sheriff, unseating incumbent Irwin Carmichael.
            Carmichael had been accused by local clergy of putting youthful offenders in solitary confinement in the detention center.
            With no Republicans running, McFadden will also take office in 2019.
            There were some black candidates who did fall short in the May 8thprimary across the state.
Wilmington native Rep. Rodney Moore only garnered 17 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary in Mecklenburg County, losing to Nasif Majeed. Also in Mecklenburg,  state Sen. Joel Ford lost his primary election to Mujtaba Mohammed. Mohammed will face Republican Richard Rivette in the fall.
Finally, one black victorious candidate may have celebrated a little bit too early after his dramatic victory.
Robert Williams of the Nash County town of Sharpsburg unseated incumbent Mayor Randy Weaver by just seven votes primary night. But reportedly, Williams allegedly almost caused a vehicular crash near city hall, resulting in his being charged with DWI.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            With many proud, happy African-American families coming together to celebrate graduations from several of North Carolina’s finest historically black college and universities this month like NC A&T University in Greensboro and North Carolina Central University in Durham, the last thing anyone will be thinking about is how much debt they owe after four years of higher education.
            But according to a just released report, they probably should.
            The report, “Racial Disparities in Student Loan Debt and the Reproduction of The Fragile Black Middle Class” by Jason n. Houle and Fenaba Addo at the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, paints in startling terms a disturbing fact – there is a huge gap in the disparity between black and white student debt, and it is growing. 
            Indeed the report states, “…the burden of rising debt is racialized, and is disproportionately shouldered by students of color, and particularly black youth.”
            And, “These disparities are large and then they grow over time.”
            Several studies in recent years confirmed that the overall wealth divide between African-Americans and whites had widened in recent years, particularly per a Pew Research Center study in June 2016.
            “In 2014, the median household income foe whites was $71,300, compared to $43,000 for blacks. But for college-educated whites, the median household was $106,600, significantly higher than the $82,300 for households headed by college-educated blacks,” the Pew report found.
            Now add on the new study on the racial disparity in student loan debt.
            According to the University of Wisconsin – Madison study:
-      Black students rely on private loans more than white students, so they’re paying higher interest rates and higher loan fees, meaning that they’re carrying higher default risks.
-      Black students are most likely to be directed towards high-risk, predatory, high-interest loans that are normally designed to be difficult to pay back
-      Black students are more likely to attend “predatory for-profit” schools or under-funded institutions, many of which have “high levels of debt accumulation…and high drop-out rates.”

The report leaves little doubt that whatever economic gains African-Americans
 garnered prior to the last Great Recession were lost when many black families their homes and overall wealth. And despite the recent slow, but steady economic recovery in the nation, African-Americans have not been able to keep pace in that recovery with their white counterparts, and are not likely to anytime in the near future.
            The report shows that the racial disparity in student debt grows by 6.8 percent each year. Thus, young African-Americans “…hold 10.4 percent less wealth average that their white counterparts due to differences in student-loan debt,” according to MarketWatch.

CUTLINE  - Rev. Corine Mack (front),m president of the Charlotte – Mecklenburg NAACP, is flanked by other area clergy, and former inmates, during last week’s press conference in front of the Mecklenburg County Detention Center, demanding an end to solitary confinement in jails (Photo by Cash Michaels)

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            The NC American Civil Liberties Union said it amounted to “torture” two years ago.
            Before he left office, Pres. Obama outlawed the practice when it came to youth offenders being held in federal custody.
            Even the state of North Carolina has indicated that it would limit the practice in its prisons, after it was determined that some targeted inmates had spent upwards of a decade in detained isolation.
            And yet, law enforcement officials maintain that placing prisoners in solitary confinement in local county jails, is an invaluable tool to maintain safety, and order in unpredictable inmate populations.
            “Charlotte faith leaders have received multiple firsthand reports of mistreatment by jail staff,’ charged Rev. Amantha Barbee, representing the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, opening a press conference of clergy and former inmates May 3rdin front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg detention center.
            “There have been eyewitness reports of abuse of power, including one man being held in solitary confinement for 60 days.”
            “This is unjust, Rev. Barbee maintained. “This is inhumane.”
            Sebastian Goodson, a former inmate who spent over 13 years in state and federal prisons, says he personally knows just how “inhuman” solitary confinement is.
            “I know the mental pain that it causes,” Goodson told those gathered. “You don’t know the feeling, until you’ve been in there. It’s like the belly of the beast.”
            Recent studies have shown that many prisoners held in solitary confinement over long period of time, do develop later psychological problems that stay with them once they’re released back into the community.
            But law enforcement officials tell a different story in defending what they say is the need for isolating prisoners – young or old – in certain circumstances.
            “I think all jails and prisons are going to have some form of that,” said Major C. J. Williams, Court Services commander for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Dept. 
            “There’s a broad category for when you say segregation, or isolation. Let’s say a person comes in and has a communicable disease? We have medical isolation. Obviously that person cannot be around other inmates.”
            “We have disciplinary segregation,” Major Williams continued. “After a person ha had a hearing, and violated some infraction, they can be placed on disciplinary segregation for 14 days, and then they have another review.”
            Williams added the Guilford County does not do “…long-term segregation,” but they do implement protective custody procedures if it becomes apparent that an inmate’s life is at risk.
            “So you have to be careful,” the major continued. “There’s a broad spectrum of segregations, local jails being different from prisons.”
            The sheriff departments for Durham, Wake, New Hanover were also contacted for this story, but did not respond by press time Tuesday.
            And after the press conference last Thursday, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael “adamantly denied” that inmates in his jails were being mistreated.
            But earlier in the week, the sheriff did confirm that “…youthful offenders are kept in a Disciplinary Detention Unit…” if they have threatened a guard or caused any trouble.
Rev. Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP, said she and other clergy were seeking justice, and an end to solitary confinement, especially for youthful inmates, because they have not developed all of their cognitive skills, and can be the most damaged.
            “Imagine the effect on that child?” she rhetorically asked during the Thursday presser.
            “This is not about punishing. This is not about harming,” Rev. Mack continued. “This should be about how do we find ways to help those children to begin to rollback into society, and be good and viable citizens.”



Monday, April 30, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            A black performer and his support staff allege that they were treated unfairly by security at the recent NC Azalea Festival concert on Front Street, and ended up leaving before they could take to the stage.
            They allege that they were the targets of racial discrimination by white security personnel backstage while they were preparing for a performance.
            The executive director of the annual festival says her staff is looking into the allegations, but made clear that organizers wanted tight security, especially in the backstage area.
            The NC Azalea Festival is a “nationally recognized” annual event that”…showcases [Wilmington’s] rich array of artwork, gardens, history, and culture through recreational, educational and family-oriented events,” according to the festival’s website.
            This year, rapper/film star Ludacris was a featured April 14thperformer, along with a handful of other black performers, on the main stage at Front Street in the Cape Fear Community College parking lot.
            Louis Nixon and his group were among the opening acts.
            Nixon told The Journalthat he was invited to perform at the festival by “host,” Brian Walker during a disc jockey “battle” competition between performances by Childish Major and Ludacris.
            Nixon’s group – which included a stylist, a security to monitor their equipment, a videographer, an a road manager, among others - consisted of seven people, including himself.  They arrived at 3 p.m., and began prepping to perform for between 6:30 and 8 p.m.
            Nixon says neither he nor his group were being paid for their appearance. Instead, they were hoping for greater exposure before a large audience that came to see national recording artist Ludacris.
            Nixon says “everything was fine” in the beginning after they setup and began rehearsing. After they finished, Nixon says he and his group – which were the only blacks backstage at the time, he says -  went to a “little area around 4:45 p.m. to relax before the gates opened to begin letting concertgoers in.
            That’s when two white security guards from two private firms began “hovering around” Nixon and his crew “…pointing fingers…as if we’re not supposed to be there.”
            Nixon says one of the security guards then goes to a tent, and comes back with “ten DJ passes,” telling Nixon and his crew, “If you don’t have a DJ pass, you’re going to be escorted out of here.”
            That’s when the white guard started giving several passes to other white people  backstage, leaving “one or two” passes for Nixon and his crew of seven.
            Nixon gets a pass, but no one else on his crew gets one, and he didn’t want them forced to wait out in the parking lot, he said.
            “It can’t go down like that,” he said. “So the fact that [my crew] couldn’t get passes, we felt that we were being racially discriminated against.”
            Nixon maintains that “…nobody explained anything.” If a person didn’t have  a pass, they had to leave the backstage area, or they would be escorted out, security warned.
            Not wanting to cause a scene that would warrant nearby police officers to get involved, Nixon decided, “We’re going to get up out of here.”
 He and his crew left, without performing.
            The Journalcontacted several of Louis Nixon’s crew from that day, including Cory Nitres Holland, Dijon Wilder and Jumell Armstrong, and each of them confirmed that their group was treated unfairly, disrespectfully and arbitrarily by backstage security, and they, too, it was because of race.
Ms. Deborah Dicks Maxwell, president of the New Hanover County NAACP, told The Journalthat as of press time Monday, her group had not gotten a written complaint from Mr. Nixon yet.
            Still, she indicated, “We are concerned, and will contact and review.”
            Alison English, executive director of the NC Azalea Festival, told The JournalTuesday that she first found out about the alleged incident by reading a blog that Mr. Nixon had created. 
            “Since that time we have contacted our concerts committee, that was in charge of that whole venue, and we’re investigating .[per] and internal investigation to see if there’s any validity at all to his statement,” Ms. English told The Journal Tuesday.
            “I don’t know exactly, at this point, all that had happened,” she continued. “I do know that we keep that backstage area of the concert …of course we have to keep that really, really tight…one, for security purposes; and two, for the national artists.”
            English went on to state that “multiple” security agencies – ranging from private security to local police officers, were on-duty April 14thto make sure that everything was safe ans secure.
            “So we can’t have two hundred people back there while Ludacris is trying to relax and get ready to take the stage. I don’t know if that was an issue, but we are launching and investigation with all of the parties involved, just to see if there is any validity to what he was stating.”
            Ms. English added that the festival has had the Front Street concert venue for five years, and until now, had not had any allegations of racial discrimination arise.
            “This is the first of anything like this happening,” she assured.

                                                     REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On Sunday, May 13th, Mother’s Day, Rev. Dr. William Barber, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, and former president of the NCNAACP; and Rev. Dr. Liz Theohsris, co-director of the Kairos Center, will officially kick-off the “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.”
            “Some things are not about left and right, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, but about right and wrong,” said Rev. Barber. “We need a moral movement to challenge the nation’s elected leaders, to critique unjust policies and lift the cries of the impacted and cause the nation to change and do better.”
            The new movement – inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s original Poor People’s Campaign fifty years that was cut short because of his assassination – seeks, according to campaign organizers, to accomplish three goals:
            1 – “Nonviolently and morally confront the immoral policies of systematic racism, systematic poverty, the war economy/militarism, ecological devastation, and the distorted moral narrative of so-called “Christian/religious nationalism.”
            2 – “Engage in massive voter registration/mobilization among the poor and working poor of every race, creed, color, sexuality, gender, age and demographic.”
            3 – “Build power and fusion unity among the poor and those most impacted alongside clergy, moral leaders and people of conscience.”
            The Mother’s Day kick-off from Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, DC, is actually the opening day salvo of a forty-day campaign that spans the following six weeks with weekly themes.
            Week One  (May13-19) – SOMEBODY’S HURTING OUR PEOPLE.
            Week Two (May 20-26) – LINKING SYSTEMIC RACISM AND POVERTY
            Week Three (May 27 – June 2) – THE WAR ECONOMY
            Week Four (June 3-9) THE RIGHT TO HEALTH AND A HEALTHY PLANET
            Week Five (June 10 -16) EVERYBODY’S GOT THE RIGHT TO LIVE
            Week Six  (June 17 – 22) A NEW AND UNSETTLING FORCE
            On the following day, June 23rd, there will be a Global Day of Solidarity and Sending Forth Call to Action Mass Rally in Washington, D.C..
            After the Mother’s Day kick-off, on Monday, May 14th,  the North Carolina leg of the national Poor People’s Campaign will hold a “Take Action” mass rally in Raleigh’s Bicentennial Plaza, 1 East Edenton Street. This rally will simultaneously occur at 2 p.m., along with similar “Take Action” rallies in  31 other state capitals across the country.
            “We’re calling the poor, and the working poor, of all different races, colors and creeds to come together, along with clergy, along with advocates, to be fully engaged,” Rev. Barber says.
            Go to www.breachrepairers.org, and click on “the Poor People’s Campaign,” to join, and learn more.

by Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            North Carolinians living in communities of “concentrated poverty” across the state – communities with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher - are facing a “double burden,” states a new report by The N.C. Budget and Tax Center, a division of the progressive N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh.
            Titled, “ Going Backwards: A Growth in Concentrated Poverty Signals Increasing Levels of Economic and Racial Segregation,” the report, written by NCBTC researcher Brian Kennedy II, continues that, “This “double burden” limits economic mobility and prosperity, not just for those experiencing poverty, but for every community member, and ultimately, for the entire state.”
            Kennedy goes on to state that concentrated poverty is the result of bad state policy choices, like “state-supported discriminatory housing markets, poorly executed public housing projects, interstate and highway projects made possible through eminent domain laws, and a lack of investment in public services – that have reinforced barriers.”
            The result for citizens living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty? Isolation from vital needed resources like jobs, access to wealth, and  a quality education,’ the report continues. There are also environmental and geographical challenges those in poverty are forced to contend with.
            And because of that social and resource isolation, the communities of people subject to concentrated poverty are not only stigmatized, but socially and governmentally neglected.
            The NCBTC report goes on to state that since 2000, the number of neighborhoods with people living in concentrated poverty across the state, has tripled. 
            In 2016, “…more that 348,000 North Carolinians living in 109 concentrated poverty neighborhoods, far outpaced the 84,493 people in 37 concentrated poverty communities in 2000, according to the report.
            Between 2012 and 2016, African-American North Carolinians were 71 percent likely than Latinos, and 434 percent more likely than whites to be living in concentrated poverty, the report continues.
            And concentrated poverty is no longer an exclusive urban problem. There is growing evidence that rural communities are now subject to the “double burden” of concentrated poverty. In 2000, only 13 neighborhoods of concentrated poverty were found in rural communities. In 2016, that number more than tripled to 45.
            Part of the reason, states the NCBTC report, is the increasing gentrification of North Carolina cities, which is driving housing prices through the roof, thus forcing the poor and working poor to flee to rural North Carolina for survival.
            Finally, the report recommends that state policymakers counter the “double burden” of concentrated poverty by “boosting the income of those earning poverty level wages; erase the physical barriers to accessing opportunity;” and that they also “…recognize the historic and continuous role of policy in driving inequalities.”


            [RALEIGH] It’s been five years since 17 activists were the first to be arrested by police during a massive demonstration at the state legislature by the NCNAACP and coalition groups. The protest was against what demonstrators called the “repressive” policies of the Republican-led NC General Assembly. In all, over 1,000 people were eventually arrested the demonstrations became a weekly ritual every Monday that state lawmakers were in session. It wasn’t long before “Moral Mondays,” coined by then NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber, became a national phenomenon. Earlier this week, the NCNAACP and coalition members gathered again behind the legislature, and new President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, one of the original 17 who were first arrested, vowed that the movement will “…continue to resist.”

            [RALEIGH] Published reports indicate that Republican legislative leaders will be cutting appropriations to Legal Aid, which provides legal services to poor and indigent  clients. According to NC Policywatch, Legal Aid will suffer a $1.7 million cut from the proposed budget that GOP legislative leaders will unveil when the Short Session commences May 18th. Typical Legal Aid cases involve eviction, foreclosure, domestic violence, predatory lending, VA benefits, unemployment and food assistance.

            [GREENSBORO] Several state employees deemed to be underpaid for the work they do for state government, are scheduled to see fatter paychecks, starting this month. Reportedly, at least $7.8 million has been set aside to give raises to approximately 3,000 workers. They’re average pay will be raised by $217.00 a month/$2,600 per year. These raises will be retroactive to February, making the May paycheck much larger than usual.