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.


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