Tuesday, December 27, 2016



By Cash Michaels

            FENCES – It makes you darned proud to see to of the best actors in the business – Denzel Washington and Viola Davis – apply their trade at the very top of their game in a stunning production that reminds us that true acting and great writing still have a place in American cinema.
            That’s why I was so pleased that the Monday 3:25 p.m. showing of August Wilson’s “Fences” was sold out when my family and I went to see it. Rarely do we see true black theater on the screen, but there it is. Washington, Davis along with most of the cast were reprising their performances from the 2010 Broadway stage production of playwright Wilson’s master work.
            August Wilson, who also wrote “The Piano Lesson,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and  “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” winning two Pulitzer Prizes and a Toney Award.  He wrote ten plays about black life in all. The playwright died in 2005, writing the screenplay for “Fences” before his death. He insisted that an African-American direct the film version of his play, which Denzel Washington did last April in Pittsburgh.
            “Fences” is a stunning motion picture, and the cast, ably led by Washington and Ms. Davis, should be immensely proud. I’m certain August Wilson would be.
            THE NEW YEAR – The line begins behind me when it comes to being thankful that 2016 has come and gone. Lord knows this ha been a bad news year all around, and yet many of us are living to tell about it.
            Personally, it was the year when I was diagnosed with acute leukemia, a unique form of cancer that the great doctors and nurses at UNC-Chapel Hill Cancer Hospital and Rex Hospital helped me overcome. I have a 50-50 chance of living a normal life (I’m in remission), and with their skill, and GOD’s grace, I believe the odds are on my side.
            Politically, the presidential election tore this nation apart in ways that may never heal. 2016 also signaled the end of the Obama Administration, and the great pride that many of us had in seeing a black president who led with confidence, professionalism, style and grace. The courage of Barack Obama to serve as our first African-American commander-in-chief is now legend, and years from now history will be kind indeed, and place him among the top of all presidents who have served our nation.
            We will certainly miss him, First Lady Michelle Obama, and the entire family as they leave the White House. Their place in history is now secured for all time.
            YEAR 2017 – So what will the new year hold for us all? There is much to be concerned about, given the constant drumbeat of dread we’re hearing everyday about the incoming Trump Administration, and some of the people he has selected to serve. 
            Even though the Republicans, once again, control both houses of Congress,
the White House, and shortly the US Supreme Court once again, something tells me all is not going to go well for our conservative friends. It seems clear that our new president has his own ideas for governing, and is not likely to follow anyone’s lead but his own.
            I guess the only way to properly end this last column for 2016, besides wishing each and every one of you a Happy New Year, is hope that all of us pray for a safe and blessed 2017! Pray, pray often, and pray hard.


By Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            Some are calling it “the failure heard around the world,” and as rhetorical as that seems, the NC General Assembly’s inability to follow-through on an apparent deal to repeal the infamous House Bill 2 “bathroom” law during a pre-Christmas Special Session has reverberated well beyond North Carolina’s borders.
            “Failure to repeal ‘bathroom bill’ ensures North Carolina politics will remain deeply divided in 2017,” bellowed the headline in The Los Angeles Times.
            “North Carolina lawmakers fail to repeal HB 2 “bathroom bill” reported ABC News.
            The New York Times called the legislative debacle “a culture war,” seemingly between rural and city state lawmakers, not to mention Democrats and Republicans.
            Better known as “HB2 – the bathroom bill” since its passage last March,  Republicans in the GOP-led state House and Senate mutinied against their  leadership when they convened Dec. 21st, many refusing to repeal the measure which, among other things, prohibited transgender people from using public bathroom facilities contrary to the sex indicated on their birth certificate.
            Democrat Gov.-elect Roy Cooper was livid after Republican leaders not only  blamed him and Democratic lawmakers for the failure, but also appeared to use the Charlotte City Council’s belated repeal of their original city ordinance protecting LGBT rights as an excuse.
            Black Democrat state lawmakers joined Cooper in their denouncements.
            North Carolina House and Senate Republicans are unbelievable,”  said outgoing House Minority Leader Rep. Larry Hall [D-Durham] “Their behavior is shameful.  In the nine months since Republicans passed HB2, our state has lost millions of dollars and thousands of jobs due to this discriminatory legislation. “
Working families, the unemployed, small businesses, sports and entertainment--NC got scrooged again by the NCGOP's failure to repeal HB2,” Rep. Hall concluded.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Democrat Rep. Rodney Moore likened the GOP HB2 repeal failure to the classic con artist movie, “The Sting.”
“The GOP majority in the House and Senate played the House and Senate Democrats and the Charlotte City Council like a master grafter,” Moore said. “After convincing the Charlotte City Council to totally repeal it's non discrimination ordinance, then they do the old soft shoe for the better part of the day and we adjourn the Special Session that was called for the extreme circumstance of repealing the most damaging piece of legislation of the year, with no repeal or any substantive action taken. Masterful.”
Triad Democrat Rep. Cecil Brockman[D-Greensboro] said, “I am extremely disappointed by the failure of General Assembly Republicans to follow through on their end of the deal to fully repeal HB 2. This harmful and discriminatory law has been a disaster for North Carolina, damaging both our economy and reputation on the national stage. Instead of showing that North Carolina is open for business, Republicans decided to play games and wasted our time and taxpayers’ money.
Brockman continued, “I will continue to speak out against H.B. 2 and push for statewide non-discrimination protection for the LGBT community. We have North Carolinians who are marginalized and vulnerable; it is well past time that we act to help those most in need.”
            State Rep. Evelyn Terry [D-Forsyth] insisted that Gov.-elect Cooper and Democrat lawmakers have too stand strong together against the kind of heavy handed governance that Republican leaders have all but promised in the new year.
“We just have to rally our forces …and we have to work within our own communities to restore the faith in democracy, as well as our responsibility as citizens to participate fully,” Rep. Terry said. “In this atmosphere, we can’t do anything but strengthen our own forces.”


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Thanks to a statement from outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, it is now known that GOP legislative leaders were indeed planning to add two more seats to the North Carolina Supreme Court so that McCrory could appoint two more Republicans to offset Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan’s stunning 350,000-vote election win, giving Democrats the 4-3 majority.
            On January 4th next week, the investiture of NC Associate Justice Michael Rivers Morgan will take place at 2 p.m. in the Law and Justice Building Courtroom at 2 East Morgan Street in Downtown Raleigh.
            “I feel tremendously wonderful about it,” the new justice-elect, 60, said days after his triumph. “The voters of North Carolina have given me a resounding victory and are allowing me to serve the state at the highest level of the North Carolina Supreme Court. So I’m very pleased, very proud and very humbled at this opportunity.”
            Justice Morgan will become the fifth African-American to serve on the state’s High Court in its history, following Chief Justice Henry Frye, and associate justices G. K. Butterfield, Patricia Timmons-Goodson, James Wynn Jr., and Cheri Beasley.
            We have been friends since my appointment [to the bench] in March of 2005,” said Orange County Superior Court Judge Carl Fox said of his colleague. “Mike is an experienced trial judge who has previously served on both the district and superior trial court benches for [over]25 years. “
“He is a fair, hard working and a conscientious judge with a wealth of experience. Mike has held court around our state. ..[and] he has also taught other judges through the N.C. Conference of Superior Court Judges and The National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada.” Judge Fox added.
State Rep. Evelyn Terry [D-Forsyth] expressed the boundless pride that many in the African-American community have in Judge Morgan’s Supreme Court election, and tremendous faith in his ability to serve in the interest of all North Carolinians.
“It’s difficult for me to express verbally that it just means such a great deal to me, and certainly, I hopeful, to the people I represent in District 71 …whose interest in equal justice are very keen.”
“So I’m just hopeful because of Judge Morgan’s qualifications, his character, his ability, his humanness…all of those things that characterize a fine legal mind,” Rep. Terry added.
“He’ll bring a breath of fresh air.”
A native of Cherry Point, NC, Mike Morgan is the oldest of five children. He graduated from New Bern public schools. Morgan got his B.A. in both History and Sociology from Duke University in 1976. He earned his Juris Doctor Degree with honors from North Carolina Central University in 1979. From 1983 to 1989, Morgan was an assistant state Attorney General in the NC Dept of Justice. From 1989 to 1994, he served as a NC administrative law judge; from 1994 to 2004 a district court judge; and from 2005 to the present a Wake County superior court judge.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Dan Blue [D-Wake] said, “I am very encouraged to see Judge Mike Morgan join our state’s Supreme Court.”
 “His dedication to impartiality and respect for the law is unparalleled. It is crucial for us to have diversity on the bench, and Judge Morgan’s win is an important step to broader representation in the court that more accurately reflects North Carolinians.”
Sen. Blue concluded, “I have no doubt that he will bring the kind of balance that is needed to ensure that the judicial system is operating in accordance with the democratic process.”



            [FAYETTEVILLE] The chancellor of Fayetteville State University is apologizing after he was seen on video with a group of students doing a gangsta rap about guns, and uttering the n-word with the lyrics. Chancellor James Anderson has issued a statement saying, “ ...I should not have repeated a song that had inappropriate lyrics, especially with so much violence in today’s world, and in a day and time we’re trying to instill in our young men and women the importance of respect of others, and each other.”

            [RALEIGH] While the rest of the world is celebrating the dawn of a new year, North Carolina’s 75th governor will be sworn-in shortly after midnight on Jan 1st to begin what is likely to be a contentious term in office. Roy Cooper will take the oath on January 1, days before he’s officially inaugurated on Jan. 7th, his transition team says. Cooper moved the swearing-in up because so much time was lost after his Nov. 8th election victory with recounts, thus stalling his transition planning. Cooper takes office with a Republican-led legislature that ha already proven it will test him routinely.

            [NEW BERN] Experts with the Federal Emergency Management Administration will be on hand this week in four North Carolina counties hard hit by Hurricane Matthew, showing those who properties were damaged by the floods how to rebuild their homes and businesses. FEMA specialists will  offer advice on repairs and rebuilding at hardware centers this week in Cumberland, Pasquotank, Craven and Harnett counties from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m..

            [DURHAM] Phillip Freelon, the famed African-American architect who designed structures from the new Hillside High School in Durham, to the new Smithsonian Museum of  African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., says he was in “shock” earlier this year when he was diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He now walks with a cane, expecting that within five years he will suffer from muscle loss and paralysis. Instead of wallowing in self pity, Freelon has started a foundation called “Design a World without ALS.” There is no known cure for ALS. Freelon’s foundation is trying to raise $250,000 for further research for a cure at Duke University.

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