MICHAELS BEING AWARDED ORDER OF THE LONG LEAF PINE MARCH 4TH. READ ABOUT IN IN "CASH IN THE APPLE." (photo courtesy of the Ujima Group)
CASH IN THE APPLE FOR 03-09-17
WOW! – What human being on GOD’s green Earth qualifies for not one, but two nights of tribute, in addition to several honors, including North Carolina’s highest civilian award?
I can think of at least one person – the Rev. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP. His fearless, tireless and forthright leadership for equal rights and equal justice in this state, and nation, are unmatched, in my opinion.
And yet, apparently some folks in the Triangle believed last weekend in Cary that yours truly was deserving of such an honor. I’m glad I said “yes” when asked by my friend, community activist Lester Thomas, president of the Ujima Group, Inc. in Cary, for permission to proceed with plans to pay tribute to me, even though my first natural instinct was to reply, “ Really Lester, really?!!!
You see, I don’t mind people praising my work. Or criticizing my work, for that matter. Either one is what comes with the territory when you work in the public eye, and you learn from each experience, each reaction. After all, it is you, the public that we serve, when we write and report stories, or produce documentaries, or appear on television or radio to offer informed opinions about the news of the day.
So if people like my work, hey, I’m very pleased, because that means that my storytelling connected with them, which is what I strive for. The fact that someone has read or seen my work, and was either enlightened, outrage or touched by it, is honor enough.
So when folks say, “No it’s not,” and follow up with some sort of special occasion, that’s when things feel a little unusual.
Things felt a lot unusual March 3rd and 4th at The Cary Theater in downtown Cary last weekend as Lester Thomas and his Ujima Group. Unusual? Yes, but in a good way.
As part of the 22nd Annual Cary African-American Celebration, the two-night program, cosponsored with the Town of Cary, was titled, “ A Special Tribute to Cash Michaels: Reflections of a Journalist’s Life.”
Friday night was special because I was able to premiere a special 26-minute autobiographical mini-documentary about my career since growing as an only child in Brooklyn, NY.
It was also special because in addition to honors from both Shaw University and St. Augustine’s University, there was a special panel discussion moderated by my friend and colleague Tom Campbell, executive producer and moderator of “NC Spin” (which I will be appearing on this weekend).
Thanks to civil rights attorney Al McSurely, former NC House member Deborah Ross, nonprofit professional and consultant Salima Thomas, and another friend and colleague Afrique Kilimanjaro, editor of The Carolina Peacemaker, the panel about journalism and social activism was strong. I was very proud of all of the participants.
Saturday evening was even bigger, with a video message from NC NAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, then atty. Irving Joyner, chair of the NCNAACP Legal Redress Committee, followed by honors from the NC Black Publishers Association, the city of Raleigh, the Ujima Group, Inc., and finally the Order of the Long Leaf Pine sent from Gov. Roy Cooper.
Through it all my family – wife, Markita; oldest daughter, Tiffany; youngest daughter, KaLa: my two sisters –in-laws; along with an assortment of old friends and people I admire, made the evening extra special. And to top it all off, jazz singer Eve Cornelious and her ensemble rock the place to close us out.
In closing, I will forever by thankful to all of the people who gave of their precious time to make the two-night event happen. Yes, I’m happy to have my flowers while I’m living, especially since it was exactly one year ago this week, on March 11th, 2016, when I was first diagnosed with acute leukemia, and had to undergo months of aggressive chemotherapy in order to survive.
And don’t forget, that was following my debilitating stroke to my left leg in November, 2015.
So yes, GOD is good, and I am so thankful for His goodness and mercy. I openly embraced the tributes last week not only as tremendous love from the people that I serve, but also as a positive sign that my Lord and Savior is not through with me yet!
Thank you to all.
HBCU CHANCELLORS WAITING FOR REPUBLICANS
TO PROVE THEIR COMMITMENT
By Cash Michaels
When over 80 presidents and chancellors from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) left Washington, D.C. last week after first meeting with Pres. Trump at the White House, and then taking part in a Republican-sponsored fly-in conference at The Library of Congress, convened by conservative Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC-6), some, like chancellors Harold Martin of N.C. A&T University in Greensboro, and Elwood Robinson of Winston-Salem State University, were hopeful that the visits would ultimately be manifested in a stronger relationship yielding greater federal public policy and funding support.
“With the national spotlight shifting to other topics, it will be important for this dialogue to continue with both the executive and legislative branches,” Chancellor Martin, in an open letter to the NC A&T campus, wrote afterwards.
“Clearly, there is much still to learn about our institutions from key government officials, and we accept our role in providing this education,” Martin continued. “I look forward to continuing the conversation around needs of particular importance to our university, other campuses, and the nearly 300,000 students (from over 100 HBCUs across the country) we collectively serve. “
WSSU’s Chancellor Robinson echoed his colleague’s response.
“As this university’s leader, it is my responsibility to ensure that our elected officials understand how crucial our mission is and to ensure ongoing federal support for our students, faculty, staff, research, and programming,” Robinson said in an open letter to the WSSU campus on Facebook.
“We are keenly interested in policy and discussions around issues that impact our campus, including Title III funding, Pell grants, federal research grants, and HBCU-specific federal funding. The meetings this week in D.C. between more than 80 of my fellow HBCU leaders and high-ranking Washington lawmakers offered an opportunity to engage in constructive conversation about the value—and the incredible outcomes—of HBCUs. It is my hope that these conversations will lead to additional support for our mission.”
Observers note, however, that neither chancellor, in their post-DC assessments, portrayed the Washington meetings as “productive.” Indeed, at least one North Carolina HBCU leader who also attended last week, expressed considerable skepticism off the record about the Republican effort, especially after Pres. Trump issued an executive order declaring the future of HBCUs “an absolute priority” of his administration, but did not offer any further budgetary support for them beyond the $4.7 billion HBCUs received during President Obama’s tenure.
On the record, Morehouse College Pres. John S. Wilson, Jr. also issued an open letter to his campus community in Atlanta, a skeptical one, concluding it with, “In general, the meetings were a troubling beginning to what must be a productive relationship. Trust that the HBCU community will continue to press for the kind of funding that educational excellence and national competitiveness require!”
Pres. Wilson wanted to see HBCUs come away from the Washington, DC visits with at least a $500 million federal commitment…to start.
In a Feb. 27 White House press release titled, “President Trump Seeks to Outdo Obama in Backing Black Colleges,” White House Press Sec. Sean Spicer is quoted as saying, ““The president has a strong commitment to them and understands over the last eight years they've been woefully neglected. And I think he wants to really show a commitment. ... And so you’ll see, I think, not just a push this month, but in his budget and going forward.”
Published reports indicate that HBCUs are pushing for $25 billion in infrastructure, readiness and financial aid from Trump and the GOP-led Congress when the next federal budget is rolled out. Johnny Taylor, CEO of the nonprofit Thurgood Marshall College Fund in Washington, DC, pushed for specific increases in federal grants to HBCUs, as well as contracts.
Several members of the Democrat-led Congressional Black Caucus are actively challenging Republicans to “put-up-or-shut-up” with more HBCU budget funding as well.
“If Pres. Trump is serious about HBCUs, he must also be serious about removing the structural barriers African-Americans still face, and he should put his money where his pen is by urging his colleagues in Congress to increase federal funding to HBCUs,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7) in a statement.
Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) challenged Republicans during her remarks at the fly-in conference luncheon asking, “…how do we work together to ensure that HBCUs not only survive, but thrive?”
Contrary to some of the skepticism that resulted from last week’s HBCU meetings, especially after Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University in New Orleans, LA, wrote about the visit to the White House to meet with Pres. Trump, that,“…there was very little listening to HBCU presidents today…,” Congressman Walker’s office was upbeat about the dialogue that took place at the fly-in conference the following day.
According to Jack Minor, Rep. Walker’s communications director, HBCU presidents and chancellors were afforded plenty of opportunities to be heard during the day-long event that was replete with panel discussions, and remarks from Republican leaders such as Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who said at the conference that he was supportive of year-round Pell Grants for HBCU students.
“I have always valued the importance of HBCUs,” said Congressman Walker in a statement after the fly-in. “With more than 100 HBCUs across the nation – and eleven here in North Carolina, they are an integral part of our higher education system.”
“On a more personal note, my wife, Kelly, is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University and has found success as a nurse practitioner, which she attributes in part to the strong education she received. I believe it is as important as ever to have Republicans engage with HBCUs. On Tuesday we made big strides to bring bipartisan support to HBCUs and create an open dialogue to address issues they face. I look forward to continuing to work together for the betterment of our students. This is not the first step, but it certainly is not the last.”
But what about the bottom-line? How committed are Republicans to earmarking anything near the $25 billion HBCU leaders want to see in the federal budget?
On Tuesday morning, The Journal got an answer the HBCU chancellors and presidents might not like.
“Everything here is Obamacare-oriented [right now], [so] until we get through that,” said Walker spokesman Jack Minor regarding where the GOP-led Congress’ primary attention is currently, adding that what Pres. Trump’s budget eventually looks like also plays a key role.
Minor went on to say that’s why Rep. Walker convened last week’s fly-in when he did, so that it would be at the beginning of the budget consideration process.
Indeed, it has been reported by McClatchy News that “Walker, chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee, sent a letter to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and top committee Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland, calling for hearings on federal grants, contracts and cooperative agreements for HBCUs.”
But establishing relationships and “trust” first, according to Minor, was important and the primary goal.
Rep. Walker added that Democrats and Republicans fighting over how much funding the nation’s HBCUs should get “is a good thing.” Jack Minor added that Rep. Walker does intend to work with the Congressional Black Caucus, which has traditionally been the strongest advocate for HBCUs in Congress.
“The schools were very open about the help they needed,” Minor said. “Republicans now control the House, Senate and the White House, so if [HBCUs] are going to get it, it will have to largely come from us.”
Minor also confirmed that unlike their White House visit with Pres. Trump the day before the fly-in (which in the Walker press release seemed to be royally thrown under the bus), HBCU presidents and chancellors got plenty of opportunity to express their views about the value, history and needs of their institutions during the conference.
One aspect of the GOP – HBCU outreach drama to keep an eye on is how students on various campuses are reacting. Last week at Howard University, students and faculty expressed disgust with their president’s participation in the meetings, particularly with Pres. Trump. Vandals spray-painted their dismay on the campus yard, calling Howard Pres. Wayne A.I. Frederick the “overseer” of the “Trump Plantation.”
That response echoed something Rep. Alma Adams said in an interview after the HBCU fly-in conference regarding Pres. Trump’s suddenly enthusiastic welcome of the HBCU presidents and chancellors to the Oval Office.
“We’re going to have to hold him to what he says,” Rep. Adams says. “He certainly wasn’t supportive (during the campaign) of people who look like me. So I don’t know.”
However, a review of Trump’s campaign remarks last year during a visit to Charlotte indicate that he did voice support for HBCUs. During his “new deal for black America” remarks, Trump told the mostly white crowd gathered, “My [education plan] will also ensure funding for historical black colleges and universities, more affordable two and four-year colleges, and support for trade and vocational education,” a Youtube video, published on Oct. 26th, 2016, shows.
WSSU Chancellor Robinson is one of those who now wants to see proof in the Republican pudding.
“Although lawmakers expressed their support for our mission, it is critical that they demonstrate that support with significant budget allocations and policy actions,” Robinson said in a follow-up statement to his earlier letter.
REP. MOORE SPONSORS BILL
TO INCREASE HATE CRIME PENALTY
By Cash Michaels
State House District 99 Representative Rodney Moore is sponsoring a measure “…to create the criminal offense of felonious assault as a hate crime, to expand the population protected by current misdemeanor hate crimes, and to amend the aggravating factor regarding hate crimes to include persons targeted due to gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”
If passed by the Republican-led state legislature, the bill would make women, and members of the LGBT community a “protected” class in the state, something the GOP majority that is still fighting repeal of their HB 2 “bathroom law” against transgender North Carolinians, may not be in favor of.
Rep. Moore (D-Mecklenburg) is the primary sponsor of the measure, better known as HB 152 – “Hate Crime/Increase Scope and Penalty.”
Currently the bill is in the House Judiciary III Committee.
According to the bill, “gender identity” is defined as “actual or perceived gender-related characteristics.”
“Anyone who, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, nationality country of origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of another person, assaults that person and inflicts serious bodily injury to the person or attempts to assault that person and inflict serious bodily injury to the person is guilty of committing the offense of felonious assault as a hate crime.,” the measure states.
It goes further to classify the offense as a Class E felony, which is serious, if death results, or includes kidnapping, first degree forcible rape, second degree forcible rape, first degree forcible sexual offense or second degree forcible offense.
If passed, the act becomes effective December 1, 2017, and applies to offenses committee on or after that date.”
The Journal has sought comment from the NC American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina about HB 152 for this story since last week. A spokesperson for the NC ACLU said they were not familiar enough with the bill to comment.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 03-09-17
FORMER FAYETTEVILLE BASKETBALL COACH FACES 175 CHILD SEX CHARGES
[FAYETTEVILLE] A former Fayetteville basketball coach is now facing an additional 105 charges of sexual abuse after an eighth accuser, a former player, came forward recently, Fayetteville police say. Coach Rodney Scott, 50, was originally charged with 70 counts of sex with teenage boys before authorities determined more charges were warranted. Scott’s bond is now over $21 million. The alleged offenses took place over a 20-year period at Coach Scott’s home.
CHARTER SCHOOL BOARD TO APPEAL SHUTDOWN ORDER FROM STATE
[DURHAM] THE board of Kestrel Heights High School, a charter school, has voted to appeal the state Board of Education’s decision to close the school after it was revealed that several students who graduated did not finish state-required course work first. An investigation had determined that 160 of the school’s 399 graduates had not taken all of the state –required courses. The state ordered the school closed as of this July 1st, and it is to remain closed for three years before it can reopen. The board has until Friday to appeal the state board’s decision.
SENATE APPROVES HALL APPOINTMENTS; SUBPOENAS HOOKS TO APPEAR
[RALEIGH] Based on the recommendation of a state Senate committee, the NC Senate approved Gov. Roy Cooper’s appointment of former Rep. Larry Hall as secretary of the Military and Veteran Affairs Monday night. But at the same time, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for Erik Hooks, secretary of Public Safety, to appear before a Senate committee for questioning. Hooks was compelled to appear on March 15th at 2 p.m. Meanwhile, the court case involving Gov. Cooper maintaining his right to appointment his Cabinet officer without Senate oversight began this week. Lawyers for the state Senate contend that that body has the constitutional right to confirm the governor’s appointments.
NC NAACP LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY DAY ON MARCH 21ST
[RALEIGH] For the eleventh consecutive year, the NC NAACP and the Forward Together Movement will sponsor the annual Legislative Advocacy Day at the state legislature on Tuesday, March 21st from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Hundreds of protesters from across the state converge on Jones Street to lobby state lawmakers on voting rights, repealing HB2, and many more issues.