Sunday, April 15, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Special to the NNPA

            [DURHAM, NC] Ten member newspapers of the North Carolina Black Publishers Association, and NNPA Pres. Rev. Benjamin Chavis, have agreed to mount a statewide campaign to maximize the African-American vote for the 2018 midterm elections.
            And reaching eligible young people through an aggressive voter registration/issue education and mobilization effort is seen as key. 
            North Carolina, Texas and Florida are considered to be important states that could change the makeup of Congress if the African-American vote flexes its muscle. The Black Press is considered essential in those states to mobilize that electoral strength. 
            Primaries in North Carolina are scheduled for May 8th, with early voting
            With billions, Rev. Chavis said, not millions, of dollars are going to be spent during this election, the Black Press in North Carolina and other states deserve their share.
            Unfortunately, both the Democratic and Republican parties have traditionally proven to be sorely lacking when it comes to supporting the Black Press when it comes to advertising.
            The Democrats, despite clear evidence that African-Americans are their most loyal voting base, have been accused of taking the black vote for granted. And Republicans have proven to ignore the African-American community entirely. 
            NCBPA publishers agree that the political parties must be challenged immediately while advertising budget decisions are being made.
            NNPA Pres. Chavis, a North Carolina native, said that the get-out-the-vote (GOTV) strategy should be “data driven” for all of the state’s 100 counties. He noted that each of North Carolina’s African-American newspapers together cover the entire state, and once the pertinent voting data is obtained, a campaign should be developed around it, especially on social media and celebrity participation.
            “In our plan, we should have coverage of the whole state – all 100 counties,” Chavis said, adding the effort should especially target African-Americans who are eligible to vote, but are not registered…in 2018.”
            Chavis said he’s seen figures from 2012 that the number of eligible, unregistered blacks in North Carolina was between 400,000 – 500,000. He said that figure is most likely higher now because of voter suppression, and the purging of state voter rolls.
            From now until September, Rev. Chavis added, voter registration must be emphasized. Then from September to Nov. 4th, GOTV must take center-stage.
Part of the plan is to identify twenty North Carolina cities where the NNPA-CashWorks HD Productions 2014 award-winning film, “Pardons of Innocence: the Wilmington Ten,” can be screened in concert with a locally coordinated voter registration drive.
            NNPA Pres. Chavis, recognized as the leader of the Wilmington Ten – ten civil rights activists falsely convicted of arson, and imprisoned, in the 1971 destruction of a white-owned grocery store during the height of racial unrest – would accompany the film to speak with audiences about the importance of voting and citizenship.
            Ms. Thatch indicated that the film was successfully screened in Lumberton, NC in March to over 400 people from there and surrounding counties.
            “We want to recreate that spirit in 20 locations between now and November,” she said, adding that the GOTV initiative should also focus on rural communities.”
            Helping the community to understand that empowerment through voting is the key, Rev. Chavis said. Directing young people to register online via “Rock the Vote,” in part to eliminate the normal complications to voter registration, is also another strategy that should be implemented. 
            Chavis also emphasized that NCBPA members should immediately seek to get available advertising dollars to publicize voter registration efforts.
            “We should make voter registration easy [for young people]. Not hard,” Chavis said.
            “And we’re going to have to develop an agenda to get young people to vote,” added NCBPA Pres. Mary Alice Thatch, focusing on issues like police brutality, poverty, the achievement gap,  and better employment and small business opportunities. Additionally, economic development in the black community should also be emphasized as an important outgrowth of voting.
            In the meantime, the Black Press should begin now reporting about the value of the African-American vote in their papers.
            “We can’t expect other people to value us more than we do,” Rev. Chavis cautioned, adding that he was willing to come back to North Carolina to formulate the plan.
            The ten NCBPA member newspapers present were The Wilmington JournalThe Carolina Peacemaker; The Carolina Times; the Carolina Call; The Carolinian, Greater Diversity News; The Fayetteville Press; The County News; The Daily Drum; and TheUrban News.
Four of the NCBPA newspapers – The Carolina Call,The Urban News, The Daily Drumand The Fayetteville Press - are applying for membership in the National Black Newspaper Association.

A TRUE AMERICAN HERO - Raleigh City Councilman Corey Branch and his wife, Chanda, speak with Cong. John Lewis during his visit to North Carolina Saturday. (picture courtesy of Willie Rowe)

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            With the May 8thprimaries commencing in three weeks, and early voting beginning April 19ththrough May 5th, veterans of the 60’s and 70’s civil rights movement came to North Carolina recently to encourage black voters to study the issues, register to vote, and cast their ballots in both the primaries and Nov. 6thmidterm elections.
            On Saturday, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia came to Knightdale to attend a private fundraiser for St. Augustine’s University, urging all to support HBCUs.
            But the veteran civil rights hero also made the case for turning out the black vote.
Urging the predominately black audience to “Vote like never before,’ Congressman Lewis credited black female Democrats in Alabama and Virginia with helping to defeat Trump-backed Republicans in the last few statewide elections..
            “Men, we must get on the ball,” Lewis told his audience. “The women and the young people are going to get us there.”
            “Men and women of color, with our white, Hispanic, Asian-American colleagues and friends, must come together,” Lewis continued. “If I can say anything, we’ve got to vote like we’ve never voted before!”
            Cong. Lewis then recounted the legendary March, 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. Led by his friend and mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lewis recalled how black people in Alabama did not have the right to even register to vote without unconstitutional poll taxes.
            Lewis talked about how the Alabama state troopers blocked the 600 marchers as they came over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and began beating them mercilessly with night sticks and bullwhips, and firing tear gas.
 Lewis – who was 25-years-old at the time -  was seriously struck on the head, causing a concussion.
“I thought I saw death. I thought I was going to die,” Cong. Lewis said, hauntingly as the audience intently listened. “But GOD Almighty kept me here.”
Lewis added that he was “so pleased” on the 50thanniversary of the Selma march to walk across the Pettus Bridge with the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama.
“So we cannot give up, we cannot give in. We cannot let forces try to take us back to another time and another place.”
Another veteran of the civil rights movement who came to North Carolina recently was Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, a native of Oxford.
Chavis, president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, was in Durham April 6thto meet with black newspaper publishers statewide about strategizing to turn out North Carolina’s black vote for the midterms. North Carolina is considered to be a critical state in both the 2018 midterms, and the 2020 presidential elections.
Dr. Chavis said figures he’s seen indicate that anywhere from 400,00mafde 0 to 500,000 eligible African-Americans across the state were not registered to vote in 2012. Every effort must be made to significantly shrink that number for the 2018 midterm elections. All efforts must also be made to register, and then mobilize eligible young people as well, by focusing on issues of most concern to them, like police brutality, and economic opportunity.
“We must make voter registration easy [fopr young people],” Chavis said. “Not hard.”
Chavis also maintained that any get-out-to-vote strategy adopted by the state’s black press must be data-driven per all 100 counties. He urged black newspapers to begin reporting on the value of the black vote.
“We can’t expect other people to value us more than we do,” Rev. Chavis cautioned.


            [RALEIGH] A conservative state lawmaker warned his colleagues Monday that if they don’t vote to arm teachers in North Carolina, the blood of murdered school children,”…will be on our hands.” Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus), a strong proponent of gun rights, made the chilling prediction in an email sent Monday evening to fellow legislators. Pittman is a member of the state House Select Committee on School Safety. He called arming teachers and other school personnel “…The most practical, common sense, and constitutionally sound proposal of all.” Most teachers polled across the state oppose being armed in the classroom.

            [CHARLOTTE] A Charlotte City Councilwoman has indicated on her Facebook page that she doubts what has been reported about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York which killed 3,000 people. LaWana Mayfield wrote that she is waiting for someone “to produce pieces of the alleged plane that opened the doors for US citizens to (lose) all privacy rights.” Mayfield layer told a local radio station that she thought the attacks were used “to not only create a way through government to spy on the American people , but also to privatize a lot of the work that is happening on the ground.”

            [RALEIGH] A three-judge panel ruled April 13ththat even though challengers in a Wake District redistricting case “have demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of their claims,” voters will still be allowed to cast their ballots during the upcoming May 8thprimaries. Allison Riggs, senior attorney for voting rights for Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which challenged the state House districts, issued a statement saying, “We are gratified that the court recognized that the legislature likely acted unconstitutionally when it unnecessarily redrew several Wake County House Districts. We will aggressively litigate this case to final resolution to ensure there are fair districts in place by the time voters go to the ballot box in 2020. Basic legal principles of equality demand that voters in Wake County have the same right to vote in constitutional districts as every other resident in the state.”



Monday, April 9, 2018


                               ROBERT STEPHENS, FOUNDER, HBCU COLLECTIVE

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On Tuesday, April 17th, they’re coming back to Washington.
            An estimated 200 students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) across the nation, coming to lobby members of Congress to increase financial support for students, increase funding for federal research grants, and more funding for campus facility upgrades.
            The event is called, “ The Second Day of Action,” modeled after the first a year ago, sponsored by the HBCU Collective, and two of its designated leaders are from North Carolina HBCU’s.
            Founder Robert Stephens, 32, is a 2008 alum of Winston-Salem State University, while one of his co-leaders, Shambulia Gadsden Sams, is an alumna hailing from Shaw University in Raleigh.
            According to Stephens, who lives and works in Washington, D.C., he got the idea for the HBCU “Day of Action” last year after seeing Pres. Trump invite various presidents and chancellors from HBCU’s to the White House, under the guise of wanting to help their schools more than the previous Obama Administration.
            Stephens said he was “very concerned,” especially after the president moved the HBCU Initiative from the Education Dept. to the White House.
            “I thought it was a dangerous position to be in,” Stephens said. Indeed, some member so the HBCU contingency “felt (going to the White House) was just a photo opt.”
             Stephens called student body presidents at various HBCU’s, and all agreed that they didn’t trust the Trump Administration to be genuine in its promises. So they decided to mount the first “Day of Action” on Capital Hill, invited Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), a retired Bennett College professor, among others, to speak at their press conference, and the rest is history.
            The students, alumni, and other HBCU supporters walked the halls of Congress, lobbying on behalf of their cause.
            When Pres. Trump released his budget proposal last year, Stephens said one look convinced him that HBCU’s were not a priority for the president. In fact, a lot of Title III funding that HBCU’s traditionally got under Pres. Obama, were cut by Trump.
            It wasn’t until Congress put forth its own Omnibus budget funding proposal, which indeed prioritized Pell Grant funding; increased funding for the HBCU Capital Financing Program; and also increased funding for the TRIO and GEAR Up programs.
            Overall, a $35 million increase in HBCU funding, which Stephens calls “Significant.” But he adds that HBCU students shouldn’t have to twist arms every year, and that their schools should receive the same funding and consideration that predominately-white colleges and universities receive.
            “The oldest HBCU has been around for 200 years, “Stephens says. “We produce the most science, technology, engineering and math scholars; most black doctors, black lawyers, most black engineers. We’re saying that HBCU’s make a huge contribution to society, and we just want to make sure that our schools are sustainable.”
            Buses to attend the “Second Annual Day of Action” will leave from HBCU’s across North Carolina early Tuesday morning, joining other buses from across the country headed towards Washington.
            Stephens added that he’s very supportive of a voter registration drive for HBCU students, so that they can vote during the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            If you, like many in the black community statewide, feel strongly about moving statues paying tribute to the Confederacy from state government grounds, then you have until midnight tonight, April 12, 2018, to electronically submit them to the NC Historical  Commission’s Confederate Monument Study Committee.
            The online address to obtain the form is
            Once you fully fill out the form, which includes your name, address, and comments on whether you are for, or against removing all Confederate statues and memorials from state government grounds, you simply click the submit button to turn it in online.
            You must submit the completed form no later than 12 midnight tonight, April 12, 2018.
            Thus far, over 4,600 comments – both pro and con – have been submitted by the public to the study commission for consideration. During a public hearing last month held  by the committee, about 60 people attended , with the majority expressing objection to removal of any of the Confederate memorials.
            There are three statues/memorials in question:
-       The 75-foot Capitol Confederate Monument in front of the State Capitol Building, which commemorates the “Confederate dead. It was erected in 1895.
-       The Henry Lawson Wyatt Monument commemorating the first Confederate soldier killed during the Civil War “Battle of Bethel.” The monument was erected in 1912.
-       And the Monument to North Carolina Women of the Confederacy. It was erected in 1912.

Shortly after the racial violence last August in Charlottesville, Va. over the
controversial removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in a local park, and a group of activists toppled a statue of a Confederate officer in front of the old Durham courthouse in downtown, Gov. Roy Cooper proposed removing all Confederate memorials from state government grounds. He asked the NC Historical Commission to look into how to do so, while adhering to a 2015 law passed by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, making it difficult to remove “objects of remembrance.”
            The commission, after receiving the public comments about removing Confederate memorials from state grounds by midnight tonight, will then solicit legal opinions from Wake Forest University, NCCU Law School, UNC-Chapel Hill Law School, Elon University ,and Duke University law schools.
            The full commission will then meet in May to hear the results of the public comments, and other considerations, in a special report from the Confederate Monument Study Committee.



            [FAYETTEVILLE] An ethics commission for the Fayetteville City Council is investigating allegations that Councilman Tyrone Williams asked a developer for money to support an upcoming project. Williams is refusing to resign his seat, despite the fact that the FBI is reportedly investigating as well, and the alleged transaction was captured on audio tape. Mayor Mitch Colvin and eight other council people gave Williams a letter Monday asking him to step down, but he refused.  All he would say was, “Sorry for my mistakes.”

            [RALEIGH] Two survivors of the 2015 Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., where a young white supremacist fatally shot nine people during a Bible study, spoke at the NC Museum of History Tuesday, reflecting on the event that forever changed their lives. Polly Sheppard and Felicia Sanders told how they lost family members who were in that prayer meeting when Dylan Roof pulled out his gun and opened fire. Ms. Sanders lost her son and aunt that day. She says she still asks herself is she “did enough.” The pair spoke in honor of Crime Victims’ Week.

            [WASH., D.C.] Expect another $189 million in recovery aid coming from the federal disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Matthew. Matthew struck the eastern parts of North Carolina in October 2016, causing hundreds of millions of property damage to homes and businesses. Thus far, North Carolina has received 1.4 billion in congressional appropriations for Hurricane Matthew relief. $168 million is being provided by HUD for housing redevelopment and rebuilding, business assistance and economic revitalization, and $21 million is going towards disaster assistance from the US Dept. of Transportation.

Monday, April 2, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            If black voters want real change, they just can’t vote for it, say North Carolina black leaders.
            They have to work for it. 
            They must understand that when they vote someone into office, they are hiring that candidate to work for them, which means they must keep that candidate accountable long after the election.
            “The upcoming elections are critical, especially for our young people,” says Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1).
            “What more must we do to be saved?” asked Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of NCNAACP.
            Even though black females Democrats in Alabama are credited with helping to elect a white Democratic US Senator there for the first time in years recently, and Democrats, by and large, are feeling hopeful about taking back at least the US House, and possibly even the NC House, black voters showing up for the 2018 midterms is still an open question.
            By most indicators, even with the Trump Administration continuing to outrage many, black voters, this year, just aren’t feeling it.
            “4.4 million 2012 Obama voters stayed home in 2016 – more than a third of them black,” was the March 12th headline story in The Washington Post. Based on a report originally published by The New York Times, while “…12 percent of white voters who had backed Obama in 2012 voted for Trump four years later… eleven percent of black Obama 2012 voters stayed home.”
            The analysis is clear – if black voters showed up in decent percentages in 2016, Donald Trump most likely wouldn’t be president today. In fact, after his election, then President-elect Trump actually thanked black voters,
 Saying, “…They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was a big — so thank you to the African American community.”
            In North Carolina in 2016, the writing on the wall for a depressed black Democratic turnout came early in the form of lower than normal presidential year early voting black turnout. The fear is, the same may happen again this fall, especially since African-Americans historically don’t show up for midterm elections.
            For many black voters, there is an expressed sense of betrayal by the Democratic Party. They feel that being the party’s most loyal base of supporters has done little to change their fortunes, whether it be better employment, affordable housing, or fairer law enforcement in their communities.
            "Now people can wake up," Kelton Larson, 26, of Ohio told National Public Radio recently. "Black people have been voting for over 50 years, and nothing has ever changed. Our communities still look the same. We're still at the bottom of the economic poll."
            Here in North Carolina, black leaders are all too familiar with the African-American community’s perennial frustration with the political party is has supported overwhelming for decades. Even with more black elected officials than ever before, the failure of real, grassroots change, or “politics as usual,” is something many black voters, particularly millennials, have decided not to put up with anymore.
            But black Democratic leaders counter, that with Republicans in charge in the NC General Assembly, in Congress, and certainly in the White House, sitting on the sidelines during the 2018 midterm elections will not accomplish anything but embolden those who are making policies that ultimately hurt the African-American community.
            “Of course, there is no future, or no value in not advocating for your own interests,’ says Larry Hall, NC Secretary of Veteran Affairs. “You either have to participate and work to change the process, or participate and try to be effective in the current process. But sitting on the sidelines, and letting everyone else’s issues be addressed does nothing for you. So that’s a failed strategy, and certainly one that no one has proven works by not participating.”
            Voters don’t understand that it takes more than just showing up on Election Day, Sec. Hall agrees. Learning about the issues and the candidates’ positions on those issues, asking tough questions, and then, after the election, holding the candidate accountable by staying in touch, and making your voice heard.
            Many voters don’t do that, and thus become frustrated, he agrees.
            “It takes effort,” Sec. Hall said.

                                                             EARL CALDWELL

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On April 4th, 1968 – fifty years ago this week – a shot rang out aimed at the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.
            Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed, and Earl Caldwell, an African-American, was the only reporter there to witness the shooting.
            Caldwell was a national correspondent for The New York Times fifty years ago, one of the first blacks on staff. He would later write for the NY Amsterdam News, New York City’s lead black newspaper. His name is renowned in the annals of American journalism because in 1970, Caldwell refused to be an informant for the FBI on the Black Panther Party. The case was ultimately decided by the US Supreme Court, and as a result, all reporters today enjoy certain constitution protections.
            In a 2014 interview with the Black Press, Caldwell, 83, a writer-in-residence at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., recalled that fateful day when “The Dreamer” was killed on the balcony right above him.
            It was Caldwell’s first assignment in the “Deep South.” His white NY Times editor, Claude Sitton, who would later come to North Carolina to become editor of The News and Observer in Raleigh, wanted Caldwell to go to Memphis to negatively “nail” King, and advised him to get down there early to “get the lay of the land.”
            Dr. King had been in Memphis the week before in a march to support the striking sanitation workers, but the march turned violent.
            King canceled a scheduled voter registration appearance in Wilmington, NC, to go back to Memphis the first week in April 1968, to support the workers in their cause.
            “When Martin Luther King was assassinated, I was the only reporter there,” Caldwell recalls, “And that’s because there were only a few of us [black reporters working in major media].”
            During the turbulent sixties, major news organizations had a hard time covering the civil rights movement, and the riots in major cities, because they didn’t have many, if any, experienced black reporters on staff.
            Earl Caldwell was one of a few, and to this day, his version of the assassination of Dr. King continues to raise eyebrows.
            “You can take the official story, and what they say in that story…James Earl Ray shooting from the [flop house] bathroom window, fired, killed King, and then ran away…there’s not one single piece of the government’s official story that has any corroboration.”
            “Not one single piece,” Caldwell maintains. “But because I was there…I know that you don’t see everything…but I do know that sliver [of the truth] that came past me, and that’s the basis for what I say.”
            “ I was there,” Caldwell maintains, in Room 214 at the Lorraine Motel, “Looking dead at the crime scene.”
“I DID see this figure in the bushes! I quoted this one fellow; his name was Solomon Jones in my newspaper.” Jones was the chauffeur hired to drive Dr. King around in Memphis.
 “He saw what I saw, but he actually said he saw a little more. He went to the federal penitentiary. He said that he was being framed because he refused to change the story of what he told me in the NY Times of what he saw that night at the Lorraine Motel.”
            Caldwell continued, “ There was a housekeeper…same thing! But there was no official investigation! I can say that, because my room was right under Dr. King’s…just a few doors to the left. Nobody ever came to my door (asking) “Where were you standing? Did you see anything the night before? Earlier that day?
            “There was nothing!”
            Caldwell believes, to this day, that “Most importantly, there was a massive cover-up.”
            The next night someone came in, and they cut that thicket directly across from the motel, down to an inch from the ground. There are all of these things!”
            Earl Caldwell later quit The New York Times, and says he’s been working on a book about “…what happened in Memphis” ever since.
            Convicted King assassin James Earl Ray died in prison, but not before Dr. King’s family advocated for him, saying that they were convinced he was setup, and did not pull the trigger.
            The FBI said it spent “more man hours” on investigating the King assassination than  any other case, but Earl Caldwell maintains, even today, that “…there was no investigation.”
            Indeed, under pressure from the King family, it was President Bill Clinton who ordered then Attorney gen. Janet Reno to reopen the King murder case.
            But history still holds James Earl Ray responsible for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
           STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 04-05-18

            [ASHEVILLE] The Buncombe County sheriff is accusing three Democratic members of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners of being “anti-law enforcement,” after they proposed funding for use-of-force training, a human rights commission and an independent panel to review body camera footage. Sheriff Van Duncan, a Democrat, accuses the commissioners of exploiting body cam footage of a white Asheville police officer beating a black man after accusing him of jaywalking for “an anti-law enforcement agenda.” That police officer has since been removed for the force, and charged with felony assault.

            [GOLDSBORO] Protestors took to the streets Tuesday afternoon, demanding that local law enforcement solve 28 murders there over the past ten years, and also do more to quell violence in the community. Many of those protestors were family members of homicide victims whose deaths have gone unsolved. Many held up pictures of their murdered loved ones. Many were children who lost fathers to gun violence, widows who lost husbands, parents who lost sons. All were angry that thus far, there haven’t been any arrests in the outstanding cases.

            [RALEIGH] Since Gov. Roy Cooper won office last November, and Republican legislative leaders decided to aggressively limit his powers, the lawsuits have been flying from both sides, keeping private attorneys gainfully employed to the tune of $1.5 million so far, reports WRAL-TV. The GOP insists that the General Assembly has the constitutional power to make board appointments, and manage them accordingly. Cooper counters that as governor, he also has constitutional power of appointment, and won’t be giving those up without a fight. Meanwhile, taxpayers are getting the legal bills for this brohaha.


Monday, March 26, 2018



By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

Who says there’s nothing but bad news coming out of our nation’s capital?
Despite her usual blunt and frank assessment of what she routinely sees as the “negative” policies of the Republican majority in Congress, and President Donald Trump in particular, Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) had little to complain about last week.
Beyond announcing Sunday that she will seek a third-term in office representing Charlotte-Mecklenburg and parts of surrounding counties that make up the 12th Congressional District, and then on Monday being inducted into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women’s History Hall of Fame, Adams was pleased that many of her district and issue priorities, especially relating to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina and elsewhere, were addressed in the $1.3 trillion federal budget that Pres. Trump had threatened not sign last week, but after a little veto drama, eventually did.
Besides more money for the military, and the staving off of another government shutdown, the new budget gave HBCUs:

· The maximum award for Pell Grants is raised by $175 however; this does not include an index to inflation, a shift to mandatory funding, or a restoration of Pell Grant eligibility.
· Increases TRIO and GEAR Up funding by $60 million and $10 million, respectively;
· National Park Service’s (NPS) HBCU Historic Preservation Program is funded at $5 million, in line with the Clyburn-Adams amendment to the House Interior Appropriations bill;
· Increases funding for the HBCU Capital Financing Program by $10 million to allow schools experiencing financial difficulty due to their loans a deferment on payment for 3 to 6 years.

Congresswoman Adams, the co-chair of the Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus, was elated.
“I’m thrilled to see the critical resources for HBCUs that our coalition advocated for, such as the expansion of the capital financing program, included in the 2018 omnibus. This measure will ensure security for nearly a dozen HBCUs and the students they serve, including Bennett College in North Carolina, through expanded access to essential funding for campus infrastructure and student programs,” she said. 
“I led the effort to include this change in the omnibus because, as a professor at Bennett College for 40 years, I witnessed first-hand the opportunities that HBCUs provide their students.  I’m pleased that this bipartisan measure was included and I will continue to review the bill in its entirety to make certain that it is inclusive of our 12th District priorities.”
Ratification of the Omnibus budget came on the heels of the successful HBCU STEAM Day of Action on Capitol Hill, where the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus joined forces with the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) Caucus, and, according to Rep. Adams’ office, “… brought HBCU presidents and administrators from thirty-four schools, including NC A&T, Johnson C. Smith University, Shaw University and Fayetteville State University,  and industry leaders,  to Capitol Hill to meet with key members of Congress and senior staff from both parties and in both chambers. The meetings allowed the coalition to advocate for bipartisan priorities impacting HBCUs and increased efforts to diversify the workforce. Those priorities include increased resources for 1890 land-grant universities through the Farm Bill, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, STEM initiatives, and appropriations.
“HBCUs graduate top minority talent, including more than 40% of African American engineers-we cannot diversify our workforce without their inclusion,” Rep. Adams said in a statement. “Despite this fact, HBCUs are not receiving equal resources and opportunities as their peer institutions. The Bipartisan HBCU Caucus is proud to host the first ever HBCU STEAM Day of Action to push for bipartisan legislation to continue fighting for increased resources for our schools and 21st century opportunities for all.”

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

It is not widely known, but 50 years ago next week, on April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was supposed to be in Wilmington, NC, to take part in a voter registration campaign sponsored by the local branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
But a few days earlier, Dr. King called to postpone his appearance, saying that he was needed in Memphis, Tenn. to support the sanitation workers there, who were going on strike.
As King stepped out of his room on the second-floor of the Lorraine Motel to speak to an aide down in the parking lot, a gunshot rang out at 6:05 p.m., and the civil rights leader was fatally struck in the face. 
After being rushed to a nearby hospital, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was officially pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m.
Next week, the nation, and indeed the world, will commemorate that fateful day when, as has been said many times since, “They killed the Dreamer.”
The man who is seen today as “The Dreamer’s” natural successor, Bishop Dr. William Barber, II, former president of the NCNAACP, and current leader of another social justice organization, Repairers of the Breach, says with many of the basic rights Dr. King fought and died for still under assault – voting rights, civil and equal rights, fair housing , equal employment, etc. -  today’s generation of freedom-lovers should remember King’s legacy and sacrifice, with careful consideration, and determined non-violent action.
“To say that here, years after his assassination, is something we should think about deeply,” Dr. Barber said. “But we dishonor the memory of Dr. King, and all those who suffered, if we simply commemorate his assassination.”
“You do not commemorate an assassination of a leader or a prophet,” Dr. Barber continued. “You certainly don’t celebrate. There’s only one thing you do -  you go to the place where they were killed, and you reach into the blood, and you pick up the baton, and you carry it the next leg of the way.”
“That is our calling [now]. And I know that would be Dr. King’s dream for us, because, as he said in his last sermon, “Nothing would be more tragic, than for us to turn back now.”
The man who succeeded Dr. Barber as president of the NCNAACP, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, also believes that the baton for freedom, justice and equality must go forward, but believes firmly that, just like in Dr. King’s day over 50 years ago, young people are rising to the challenge, and demanding change, as dramatically seen last weekend during the state and nationwide March for Our Lives demonstrations in cties like Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Durham and Raleigh.
“I was a sensitive 16 year old when Dr. King was killed,  and can still remember how the traumatic news of his death sparked an array of emotion in me,” Dr. Spearman recalls. “That trauma still lingers in my body 50 years later, and moves me to continue fighting for the justice.”
 “King was, and still is my hero. His death did not stop the movement, as movement ordered by God is never stopped with the death of the leader. It did, however, take on new dimensions as some of us struggled to find our fit in the movement. There are many who have picked up the torch, including the youth of #MarchingForOurLives. They respect and are equipped to carry on the legacy today.”


            [CHAPEL HILL] According to a new study by the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center, black male athletes at UNC-Chapel Hill have the lowest graduation rates of any Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) school. Sixty-five schools were studied for the USC report, conducted by USC Prof. Shaun Harper. Forty-three percent of black male athletes who attended UNC-Chapel Hill between 2007 and 2010, graduated within six years – the lowest rate in the ACC. That’s contrast to 90 percent of all UNC students attending during that same period. Some observers at UNC attest the poor numbers to racism n “old admissions practices.”

            [RALEIGH] Shaw University says the sale of its 50,000-watt radio station, WSHA-FM, is a move towards progress that will allow it’s communications department to grow and expand. But critics see the sale the station’s 88.9 frequency to a white Christian broadcasting company as a sellout for “a few pieces of silver,” said one Facebook poster. The station went on the air fifty years ago, and was one of the first owned and operated by an HBCU. It plays a mixture of jazz and public affairs programming, and has become a voice for Raleigh’s African-American community. The school will retain the call letters and the radio tower, and will go online with its programming.

            [RALEIGH] As of Tuesday, the progressive Green Party is now officially on North Carolina’s election ballot. The party qualified for automatic access on the ballot in 35 states across the nation during the 2016 presidential election. The Republican-led NC General Assembly approved the automatic ballot access, and even congratulated the Green Party. Many feel, however, that the GOP did so, hoping that the Green Party would attract voters away from the Democratic Party.


Monday, March 19, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

In 2016, the U.S. Census found that 23.4 percent of black North Carolinians lived in poverty, while only 12 percent of white state residents were struggling in the same condition, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute.
That is one of the latest entries in the NC Budget and Tax Center’s “Prosperity Watch” series, which frequently gauges the economic progress, or lack thereof, of North Carolinians.
According to that Economic Policy Institute report, African-Americans have made progress “…in absolute terms…” over the past fifty years, but  that progress is “…limited in removing [historic] barriers that maintain persistently high differences in outcomes for African-Americans relative to whites.”
For instance, using the same measure for North Carolina, 38.7 percent of black families in 1970 lived in poverty compared to 11.1.percent of white families.
Again, in 2016, it was 23.4 percent black, compared to 12 percent white living in poverty. So there definitely has been progress in the state since 1970. EPI researchers maintain that the racial barriers in employment, education and housing still exist to a certain degree.
Nationally, researchers found, 21.4 percent of African-Americans lived in poverty in 2016, compared to just 8.8 percent of whites.
However, when it comes to unemployment, the gap between blacks and whites has actually widened over the past 50 years, EPI researchers found. Whereas the unemployment rate gap between blacks and whites was 4 percent 50 years ago (6.40% to 2.70%), in 2016, it was 5 percentage points (9.79% to 5.02%).
“African-Americans in North Carolina must still confront large economic barriers,’ confirms Rob Schofield, of NC Policy Watch.
Indeed earlier this year, the NC Budget and Tax Center reported that nationally, while the unemployment rate for black workers dropped to its lowest level on record (6.7 percent), “…[in North Carolina] the unemployment rate for black workers is still 2.3 times higher than that for white workers,…according to the latest available data from the third quarter of 2017 on unemployment rates by race and ethnicity in North Carolina.
The January 15, 2018 report continued, “The unemployment rate, a measure of those out of work and looking for work, was 7 percent for black people in the third quarter of 2017. The last time the state’s overall unemployment rate was at 7 percent was in 2013. The persistence of such an elevated unemployment rate for black people five years past the overall unemployment rate has declined from such levels signals the barriers that have remained in place for black people in particular.”
The NCBTC report continued, “The failure of job growth to reach evenly across geographies, the persistence of barriers to employment like the lack of affordable retraining for new careers, and the concentrations of black workers in the public sector are particular factors explaining unemployment differences in the recent period.”
And what about the much-hailed economic recovery that the Trump Administration has touted for the past several months?
“…the supposed recovery has done little to unmake economic systems that disproportionately benefit white people in North Carolina, the NC Budget and Tax Center reported last December, noting that “Recovery ha not addressed racial barriers to economic opportunity and prosperity.”


by Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            There are more high poverty schools, containing more poor children of color, across North Carolina now, resulting in an alarming resegregation.
            That is the contention in a new report, “Stymied by Segregation: How Integration Can Transform North Carolina Schools and the Lives of Its Students” by Kris Nordstrom, a policy analyst with the NC Justice Center, a non-partisan progressive policy group.
            The report analyzes the past ten years on trends in public school segregation in North Carolina, and notes that the number of racially and economically isolated schools has increased; economic segregation is on the rise, even though the racial distribution in various school districts is mixed; larger school districts aren’t doing enough to integrate their schools; school district boundaries are still used to maintain segregated school systems; and charter schools tend to “exacerbate’ segregation.”
            The report then states that the NC General Assembly  “…increasingly considers bills that would further exacerbate school segregation.”
            One of those prospective measures, House Bill 704, is already being discussed by the Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units. That committee held its first meeting March 13th to discuss the consequences of breaking up large school districts like Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and turning them into smaller ones.
            While mostly Republican state lawmakers tried to make the case that smaller school districts would be better for North Carolina’s students, Sen. Joyce Waddell (D-Mecklenburg) weighed in to ask the obvious question that none of the Republicans broached.
            “What measures do you have in place that would prevent [students of color from being harmed], that discriminatory factors would not be the major factors in North Carolina as we move forward to breaking up large school systems?” 
            Indeed, many critics of the GOP efforts to even consider breaking up large school districts across the state suggest it’s a thinly disguised attempt at resegregation. “What measures do you have in place that would prevent that from happening, that discriminatory factors would not be the major factors in North Carolina as we move forward to breaking up large school systems?” asked outgoing state Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Nash).
            According to the National Equity Atlas (NEA), “…one of every three students of color in North Carolina attends a high poverty school,” defined as “…schools in which 75 percent or more of the student body qualifies for federal free or reduced price lunch.” NEA goes on to state that “…concentrated high-poverty schools are often the result of economic and racial segregation.”
            The expanding achievement gap between black and white students in North Carolina is seen as a direct result  of increasing segregation in the public schools.           
            If we do not address the proliferation of high-poverty schools,” writes NEA author Brian Kennedy, “… many of our students will leave high school unprepared for post-secondary education and underqualified to participate in the workforce.”
            According to the “Stymied by Segregation” report, school districts in New Hanover, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake counties, among others have the largest increase in income-based segregation.
            Charlotte-Mecklenburg has the most racially segregated school district in North Carolina. Guilford and Forsyth counties are among the ten most segregated school districts in the state.
            In closing, the report, in promoting school integration, says, “The state’s public schools are becoming increasingly segregated by income, and while the trends in racial school segregation in North Carolina are mixed, the overall level of racial segregation remains far too high.”


[COLUMBIA, S.C.] A St. Augustine’s University student remains in critical condition with a serious spinal injury in a Columbia hospital after he was one of three innocent bystanders shot Saturday evening in the Five Points section of the city.
Howard Boone, Jr., 23, is said to be under sedation after undergoing surgery to the back of his neck where he was shot. Boone, a member of the campus ROTC , and a criminal justice major. His mother says he has been in the US Army Reserves since 2013, and plans to seek a commission as a US Army officer after he graduates in 2019.
The alleged shooter, Arthur Jones, Jr., 22, has been charged with three counts of attempted murder. One of the other three victims was shot in the face.

[SHELBY] A four-year-old child remains in the hospital after being attacked by a police dog over the weekend while Shelby police were chasing a suspect. Little Karmen Wilson happened to be in a car when the fleeing suspect opened the door, the K-9 dog to attack her, biting into her body. Karmen was in surgery Monday for reconstructive surgery. Shelby police justify the use of the K-9, saying that the suspect had multiple felony warrants. But community leaders counter that a police dog should not have been used. Karmen’s family is expected to file a lawsuit.

[BELVILLE] No more alligator hunting in the Brunswick County town of Belville, by order of the town commissioners. Why? Town leaders were concerned that the hunting of female alligators would hurt the overall gator population. Alligator hunting in the state is by permit only. The NC Wildlife Resources Commission has approved an Alligator management plan, establishing a one month hunting season from Sept. 1 to oct. 1. Alligator hunters are allowed to kill only one alligator per season.