Monday, May 22, 2017



By Cash Michaels

            NO TIME TO PLAY – A few years ago, my wife took our youngest daughter, KaLa, to see teen singer Ariana Grande perform in Raleigh. Based on a video my daughter made of the experience, it was a great show. In fact, there has been an Ariana Grande poster outside of KaLa’s door ever since.
            Thousands of miles away, clear “across the pond” as they say, 21,000 people in Manchester, England, most of them young teen and pre-teen girls, did what KaLa did several years ago, and attended an Ariana Grande concert. I suspect that they, too, had a good time watching their singing idol.
            But unlike Raleigh, the concert in Manchester ended with tragedy. A terrorist, reportedly wearing a suicide bomb, blew themselves up at the concert, killing 22 people, and injuring at least 59.
            As a parent, you could only watch the video in horror as you see other parents, waiting outside the concert hall for their child to exit safely, only to discover that an explosion had taken place, people are running for their lives, and their child is nowhere to be see or found.
            What agony that must have been to not know whether your child is dead or alive mere yards from where you are standing.
            We certainly pray for the families there in Manchester, England who have been negatively impacted by this cowardly terrorist attack, and we’re 100% behind the British government as it pursues those who were part of the deadly plot to needlessly take lives.
            It just makes you wonder how close are we, here in the United States, to another terrorist attack ANYWHERE at ANYTIME!
            To add insult to injury, if something were to happen, how much faith do we have in our new commander-in-chief that he can handle it. You do know that part of the reason why he was elected (though I proudly did not vote for him) was to “defeat ISIS once an for all.”
            I don’t know about you, but shooting a few missiles to an empty air field in Syria after you’ve warned them to get out of the way does not impress me, and certainly doesn’t assure me that you know what you’re doing.  
            Indeed, our new president may have good military people around him, but don’t tell me they can’t see that he has a screw or two loose and don’t trust his judgment.
            So right now, the future is looking darker and darker. We’ve got four years to survive this basket case. Heck, he might not even make it through his term, given how much dirt the press is digging up on his 2016 campaign, and the even more dirt the new special counsel is bound to discover about his business dealings.
            This is scary time indeed for all of us, and our children.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            The Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, third vice president of the North Carolina Conference of NAACP Branches, has formally announced that he is a candidate to become the civil rights organization’s next permanent state president now that Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is stepping away from the post he’s held for 12 years.
            Meanwhile Melvin “Skip” Alston, who previously served as NC NAACP president from 1996 – 2005, has dismissed rumors that he is interested in running for his old job again, but did say that he will support NC NAACP First Vice President Carolyn Coleman if she decides to run for president. Ms. Coleman says she has not decided yet.
            The news comes as Rev. Barber prepares to join the national “Poor People’s Campaign” to draw attention to issues of poverty as the country prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s original Poor People’s Campaign next year.
            In a May 20th letter emailed to “members of the NC NAACP,” Rev. Spearman, who also serves as president of the NC Council of Churches, announced that he has “…filed as a candidate for [NCNAACP president] in our next election.”
            “Every vote is important, and I am asking for your support to become the next NCNAACP president,” Rev. Spearman continued. “Continue the fight with me. Nothing is too hard for God. I invite you to contact me with you questions, concerns, and ideas. Hear the cry on the battle filed – “Forward together and not one step back.”
            Earlier in his missive, Rev. Spearman recounted how, under Rev. Barber’s leadership, the NC NAACP “founded a movement,” shifting from “Banquets to Battle.” He denoted “…the explosive growth of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly Coalition (HK on J)… over the years,” further growing from sixteen coalition partners to “…over 200 diverse social justice organizations” today.
            Spearman also recounted the NCNAACP’s 2012 “Truth and Poverty Tour” through some of the state’s most impoverished communities.
            “God’s Word compels us to fight this battle defending the poor, disenfranchised and needy people. We are obligated to create effective strategies to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all people. We must defeat the forces of race-based discrimination and religion-based bigotry.
Pursuing on these battlefields should be the order of each day,” Spearman concluded.
            He has been third vice president of the NC NAACP for six years, in addition to being chair of the Religious Affairs Committee, and president of the Hickory NAACP Branch for two years.
Rev. Dr. Spearman is presently the senior pastor of St. Phillip AME Zion Church in Greensboro.
Though no one else at press time has made it known that they’ve also officially file for the NCNAACP presidency, Rev. Spearman has already attracted the support of attorney Alan McSurely, one of Rev. Barber’s closest lieutenants.
In an open letter to the NCNAACP membership issued May 21st, McSurely writes that Rev Spearman “…is prepared to carry on Dr. Barber's vision and spirit and intellectual brilliance as Barber moves to another lane to pick up Dr. King's torch of justice…”
“The call came only after the Lord situated and educated Dr. Spearman for this challenge,” McSurely continued. “See if you agree with me that Rev. Dr. Spearman is the man to run the second lap of the long relay race toward the NAACP's Finish line: the elimination of racism and race hatred in the U.S.”
Though former NCNAACP Pres. Melvin “Skip” Alston denied that he has any intention of entering his name into the race this October, he made clear during a telephone interview Sunday that he is willing to support First Vice President Carolyn Coleman of Greensboro if she runs.
“I told her I’m not interested, I’m not going to run, and that if she ran I would support her,” Alston said by phone. “But I’m not interested in running for state conference president anymore.”
“Whoever the next president is going to be I wish them the best. But  “Skip” Alston will not be running for state conference president. You can put that out there and let everybody know that you did get it from the horse’s mouth.”
Ms Coleman is a highly respected civil rights veteran and first vice president of the State Conference. She is also a member of the national NAACP Board.
Recently Ms. Coleman, who also serves on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, supported Alston to be appointed to fill the unexpired term of another commission member who had recently left the board. Alston is a former chair of the Guilford County Commission.
In a telephone call to Ms. Coleman Monday morning, she said that according to the NAACP Constitution, she, as first vice president, would automatically fill out the rest of Rev. Barber’s term in office once he leaves in June. However, she has not decided whether she will do that.
Coleman also said that neither has she decided to run for the state presidency in October. She indicated that upon returning from a meeting out of town over the weekend, she had just been informed of Rev. Spearman’s candidacy.
Ms. Coleman did say that more candidates are expected to enter between now and June 15th.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Now that the US Supreme Court has ruled that North Carolina’s 2011 congressional redistricting maps for the First and Twelfth districts were unconstitutional because more black voters from surrounding districts were added unnecessarily, does this hint that an upcoming High Court ruling on the state’s 2011 legislative maps is most likely to be seen the same way?
            Since 2010, North Carolina has been governed by an illegally constituted General Assembly,” says Irving Joyner, chair of the NC NAACP Legal Redress Committee, and law professor at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law.
“In its decision, the Supreme Court recognized that this "right-wing" and power-driven legislature had manipulated political districts in order to erode the impact that African American voters could have on the use of political power in this state,” Joyner continued. “In these redistricting plans, race was used to "stack and pack" African Americans into a few political districts and to reduce the ability of racial minorities to impact elections in majority white populated districts.
In short, the race-based formula used to illegally configure the First and Twelfth congressional districts, was used to draw the 2011 legislative districts as well, Joyner says.
And when will the 2011 congressional maps be redrawn by the Republican-led NC General Assembly? Democrats and civil rights activists are certainly hopeful in time for the 2018 elections.
The Supreme Court’s May 15th decision not to overturn a lower court’s July 2016 decision striking down North Carolina’s controversial 2013 voter ID law, certainly put smiles on the faces of the NCNAACP and others who challenged the measure because it targeted the African-American vote “with surgical precision.”
With last Monday’s congressional redistricting victory still echoing in their circles, supporters are eagerly anticipating a favorable legislative redistricting decision next week. But for now, this week’s High Court congressional redistricting triumph was both satisfying, and inspiring.
“This should serve as a wakeup call to the Republican-led General Assembly, whose voter suppression tactics have been struck down twice in federal court, in as many weeks,” said black Democrat Rep. Alma Adams, whose 12th Congressional District was ruled unconstitutional because GOP state lawmakers made it a minority-majority for electoral advantage.
“As elected officials, we should be working together to make access to the ballot box easier and more fair. In Congress we must take swift action to restore the Voting Rights Act. In North Carolina, it is time to appoint an independent redistricting commission to return our democracy to the will of the people, “Rep. Adams concluded.
Congressman G. K. Butterfield, the other North Carolina black Democrat whose First Congressional District the US Supreme Court also ruled was racially gerrymandered, applauded the decision as well, saying that the GOP redistricting “…was an extreme case of racial gerrymandering.”
Once again with this victory the courts have said the NC General Assembly through apartheid type redistricting engaged in systemic racism and cheated to win elections,” said Rev. William Barber, outgoing president of the NC NAACP.  “Over and over again our unconstitutionally constituted general assembly is being proven to be the antithesis of justice true democracy and the fundamental principles of equality.”
Robin Hayes, chairman of the NC Republican Party, disagreed with the Supreme Court decision, saying in part, “Our position continues to be the same as the Obama Justice Dept. on this issue, which pre-cleared these districts as fair and legal. I don’t know how any legislature can perform this task when the rules change constantly from case to case, often after the fact.”
But there are those who are clear that the Republicans will keep trying to suppress voting rights.
Despite this decision, we can expect the legislative leaders to concoct some other race-based districting design instead of sitting down to draw political districts which are fair and non-political,” Prof. Joyner added.



            [RALEIGH]  Observers are hailing April’s unemployment rate of 4.7, the lowest it’s been in the state since 2007. However, North Carolina still lost 7,000 jobs last month. According to the NC Dept. of Commerce,  the jobless rate across the state was has high as 5.3 percent last January, before falling .6 percent. Economists warn that while 4.7 percent is good, they’d be more pleased to see a pattern before expressing confidence in the state’s economy.

            [EFLAND] Students and their parents took to the streets Monday in front of  Gravely Hill Middle School to demand that the confederate flag, which they consider a symbol of hate, be banned on all school campuses in Orange County. Demonstrators told school board members that students don’t feel safe when they see the flag on tee-shirts, book bags, olr other items other students may bring to school. Orange County school officials say they’re still trying to determine a policy that also respects free speech rights.

            [WAKE FOREST] A Wake Forest High School teacher was docked a week’s pay for allowing the racial harassment of a black student in his class. That student later assaulted the white classmate in the hallway, throwing his harasser down to the ground before another teacher interceded. The teacher, William Sullivan, was suspended for five days without pay in March, a Wake Public School System spokesperson said. Sullivan was hired in 2008.


Monday, May 15, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            REV. BARBER – Earlier this week North Carolinian’s said goodbye to Rev. Dr. William Barber, who has been president of our NCNAACP since 2005. Though many are sad, all are proud of the fact that the rest of the nation now knows what we’ve known for the past 12 years – that Rev. Barber is a man, and a leader of high moral integrity and strength. That he is a man blessed by GOD, and a bold leader of action, always challenging the powers that be to serve those who have no voice.
            Rev. Barber now leaves us next month to join a national moral revival movement to address the pressing issues of poverty and governmental neglect. We wish him well, and indeed are very proud of his service, and commitment to the cause of justice and equality.
            Even though it will be strange to see him frequently in other parts of the country fighting the good fight, something tells me we won’t miss him much. That’s how strong, how powerful Rev. Barber is.
            His influence will still be felt wherever he goes.
ARE YOU STILL BUCKLED IN? – Last week my editor urged me to comment in this column about President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, and why it was a frightening prospect for what this crazy commander-in-chief is capable of.
            But deep down inside I said, “No, we haven’t seen anything yet. Better hold off.” Well, my hunch was right. Not only did Trump then prove that he couldn’t just fire his FBI director and be done with it, but then went on NBC News and bragged to anchor Lester Holt that he’s wanted to fire Comey since Day One, and didn’t need the phony cover letters both his US attorney general and deputy attorney general composed to make it seem otherwise.
            But no, Trump wasn’t finished yet. Not pleased with how the mainstream media was literally skewering him unmercifully, and deservedly so, he lashed back on Twitter (his favorite public forum), warning his former FBI director to watch his mouth to the media, or else there may be “tapes’ showing up at some point.
            Now, even the president’s Republican allies in Congress are demanding that any and all tapes of conversations in the Trump White House be turned over immediately. One wonders if either the House or the Senate Intelligence Committees will be knocking on the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with a subpoena in hand, demanding that any and all recordings be handed over.
            A lot of confusion in just one week, isn’t it? Oh, did I forget to mention that in the midst of all of that, Trump invited the Russian Foreign Minister and Russian ambassador to the Oval Office, with a Russian government news agency photographer. The American White House press pool was not allowed in that meeting.
            Was that dumb? Uh, yeah. One wonders why a president who is being investigated for his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, would then invite officials of the Russian government into the Oval Office with only a Russian photographer to record the event, the day AFTER he’s just fired the FBI director who was investigating Trump’s alleged ties to Russia?
            But still, I knew we hadn’t heard the worst  yet. No, that didn’t come until this week, when it was learned that during that Russian meeting, Trump ran his fat mouth bragging about super-sensitive classified information about ISIS entrusted to the US by an ally. Information that was not supposed to be given to the Russians or anyone else.
           And bright and early on Tuesday morning, this clown....I'm sorry....Pres. Clown....gets on Twitter again and not only takes credit for allegedly breaching national security, but says it was his right to do so since he's the president and can do whatever he wants!
            NOW, we’re into territory where no one should feel safe about that crazy egomaniac in the White House. NOW is the time to worry about the future of this nation. NOW is when we should all feel scared….VERY scared.
            Glad I waited!

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            [RALEIGH, NC] There were cheers and shouts of “Forward together, not one step back,” at Davie Street Presbyterian Church in Raleigh Monday morning for those there to see NC NAACP Pres. William Barber announce his stepping down.
            But in this instance, the approximately 100 people were reacting to news that the US Supreme Court declined to overrule the 2016 decision by the US Fourth Circuit of Appeals to strike down North Carolina’s 2013 voter ID law. The NC NAACP sued then Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the voter ID law, and the NC Republican-led Legislature, which passed HB 589, accusing them of suppressing the black vote with unconstitutional voting restrictions.
            “We were plaintiffs in the lawsuit,” Rev. John Mendez , pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, explained, recalling the weeklong hearings in federal court there in 2014.  Mendez was among those quoted in court papers filed in the lawsuit. “So it’s a very big day for us. We’re excited.”
            In its July 2016 decision, the US Fourth Circuit agreed that voter suppression was exactly what the Republican lawmakers were up to, stating that the GOP targeted the black vote “with surgical precision.”
            Republican leaders in the legislature didn’t like that ruling, and appealed it to the US Supreme Court. However, Gov. Cooper and new state Attorney General Josh Stein, both Democrats, asked the High Court to withdraw the appeal from the GOP. Republicans objected, and asked Chief Justice John Roberts to stay lower court ruling in January.
            Since then there wasn’t even word whether Roberts and the rest of the court would even hear the GOP appeal, until Monday when the US Supreme Court ruled that it would not.
            A packed sanctuary at Davie Street Presbyterian joined Rev. Mendez cheering at the news.
            The outgoing NC NAACP president, Rev. Barber was thankful, but resolute in his statement that justice had been done again by the courts.
            “Today we experienced a victory for justice that is unimaginably important for African Americans, Latinos, all North Carolinians, and the nation” said Rev. Barber. “The highest court in the land has rejected the N.C. General Assembly’s improper efforts to inject cynical politics into the Supreme Court’s docket, and instead embraced the sound judgment of the Fourth Circuit, which found that this General Assembly enacted voting laws with discriminatory intent. The Court’s critical rejection today of the N.C. General Assembly’s leadership’s position tells the people of North Carolina and across the country that the right to vote unencumbered by expansive restrictions or by racist politicians or racist policies is fundamental, and that under the laws of the land, it will be upheld.”
            Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper told reporters, “When are [Republican lawmakers] going to learn that you just can’t run roughshod over the Constitution?”
            The High Court ruling was a top national headline in the New York Times, Washington Post and CBS News as well.
            NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1) joined in on wagging a knowing finger at the Republicans who insisted that despite evidence to the contrary, voter photo ID and the long list of restrictions that went with it, kept the electoral system honest.
            “Today, the Supreme Court rightly refused to hear the appeal of a law that I have long said discriminates against African American voters,” Rep. Butterfield said in a statement. “I hope this is finally the end to one of the most undemocratic and disgraceful voter ID laws in the country.”  
            But Republicans saw it differently.
            “Republicans will continue to fight for common sense and constitutional voter ID measures, similar to what many other states already have,” State Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement, noting that the High Court didn’t rule, but just decided not to hear the GOP appeal. “While Gov. Cooper and Attorney General Stein have stymied voter ID for now, they will ultimately lose in their efforts to block North Carolina citizens from having these protections.”
            But attorney Irv Joyner, chairman of the NC NAACP Legal Redress Committee, countered, “ …[I]t is clear that the factual merits of this case were already decided by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the N.C. General Assembly did not present any evidence in court or anywhere else which contradicts the decision that HB 589 was designed to negatively impact African Americans and other racial minorities,” atty Joyner stated.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            [RALEIGH] According to sources at the NCNAACP, the successor to Pres. Rev. William Barber, who has announced that he is stepping down next month after twelve years, will come from the four vice presidents currently under his wing – First Vice President Carolyn Q. Coleman; Second Vice Pres. Carolyn McDougal; Third Vice President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman and Fourth Vice Pres. Courtney Patterson.
            Ms. Coleman is a veteran civil rights activist, member of the national NAACP Board, and a Guilford County Commission Board. Ms. McDougal is a human resource officer with People’s Choice Home Care, Inc. in Dunn.  Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman is senior pastor of St. Phillip AME Zion Church in Greensboro, and president of the NC Council of Churches.
            Courtney Patterson is retired and lives in Kinston.
            The NCNAACP is “…strong in our legal victories; strong in our organizational structure; strong financially and strong in the clarity of agenda…,” Rev. Barber told reporters last week during a teleconference last Thursday.
A meeting to determine who will succeed Rev. Barber is reportedly scheduled for next Monday. Whoever is chosen, is expected to serve out the balance of the president’s term until the October state convention, then run for election then.
            Among the candidates expected to throw his hat back into the ring, sources say, is the former state NAACP leader who lost his post to Rev. Barber in 2005 – Melvin “Skip” Alston of Greensboro.
            Alston, who was also a Greensboro businessman and a Guilford county commissioner, had served as NC NAACP president from 1996 until he was ousted by Barber. That campaign was filled with tension and accusations of irregularities.
            Alston’s tenure was controversial at the time, and just the mere mention of the possibility that he may run again has some rank-and-file members of the state conference shaking their heads, saying that it was Rev. Barber’s strong, principled and bold leadership that made the North Carolina chapter one of the best in the nation.
            It is clear that whomever does succeed Rev. Barber, they already know they have a hard act to follow.
There were tears, but they were tears of joy, and of pride, as at least one hundred supporters, civic and religious leaders, and NC NAACP members came together Monday at Davie Presbyterian Church in Raleigh to say “goodbye” to the man who has led them since 2005, challenging racism, sexism, voter suppression and more.
            Rev. Barber listened intently as some who he has inspire, some he’s mentored, and some he has also taken sage counsel from over the past 12 years, paid tribute to him before he formally stepped down.
            "When you made your announcement that you would be stepping down as the NAACP president, one of the critics of the movement said this, he said, 'I just wish Rev. Barber would have been a negotiator rather than an agitator,'" Rev. Nancy Petty said. "Rev. Barber, we're sending you into the world to be an agitator."
Barber announced late last week that he was broadening the focus of his successful moral leadership campaign to a national scope, joining with other social justice “servant leaders” to address poverty, and other social ills that have been too long ignored by government and the political parties.
            "Our work is not over here in North Carolina, but as you know, extremism is at work in other states and has gained power in all three branches of our federal government, much as it did here four years ago," Rev. Barber said. "This moment requires us to push into the national consciousness, not from the top down but from the bottom up."
In calling for a “moral revival” for the nation, Rev. Barber, his nonprofit advocacy group “Repairers of the Breach,” and other prominent social and religious activists like Rev. James Forbes, pastor emeritus of Riverside Church in NY, are working towards the fiftieth anniversary of the historic Poor People’s Campaign, which Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr. has started before he was assassinated in 1968.
By Cash Michaels

            [RALEIGH] Hidden in the 362-page $22.9 billion state Senate budget proposal is a rollback of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP, which would effectively cut food benefits to 133,000 low-income people, many of whom are under 18. Republican senators say they imposed the provision not to save money for the state, because SNAP is a federal program, but to make sure poor families aren’t able to qualify for more than one program. Republicans also cut education funding for poor children in Democratic counties, and eliminated funding for fresh produce in convenience stores in food deserts.
            The Senate passed its budget. The House is now debating its budget proposal.

            [WINSTON-SALEM] A former North Carolina state senator has pled guilty to charges that diverted campaign funds for personal use. Fletcher Hartsell was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to eight months in prison for his crime. Before members of his family and supporters, he apologized to the courtroom.

            [DURHAM] They called him “baba,” an African term of parental affection for the culture and traditions he taught for decades not only throughout North Carolina, but the nation and the world, through dance and stories. But this week, Chuck Davis, founder of the African-American Dance Ensemble, died Sunday at his home in Durham after a long bout with cancer. He was 80. Davis was beloved for sharing the power,beauty and joy of African dance with young and old. He specialized in bringing his dance troupe to young and old, black, white or whomever, teaching peace and brotherhood through African traditions. A wake is scheduled June 2 for Fisher Memorial United Holy Church in Durham, followed by a funeral June 3rd.