Monday, April 3, 2017



By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Have black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina been double-crossed by President Trump’S budget?
            It was over a month ago when over 80 presidents and chancellors from HBCUs across the country flew to Washington, DC to meet President Trump and members of Congress to discuss more federal funding for their institutions.
            Leaders came away from those meetings feeling welcomed and cautiously optimistic that they would be seeing greater support from a Republican president and GOP-led Congress than even from Pres. Obama in the past eight-years.
            But while Congress has yet to put forward its proposed budget, there are already concrete signs from Pres. Trump that his promise, codified with an executive order vowing that HBCUs will be “an absolute priority for this White House,” is really not as “absolute” as first promised.
Indeed, at the same time the HBCU fly-in conference was proceeding, with GOP leaders such as Rep. Mark Walker (R-Guiford-6), South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and even House Speaker Paul Ryan in attendance to reach out to HBCU leaders, the Associated Press was reporting “GOP lawmakers said there were currently no concrete plans for increased funding” beyond what the Obama Administration supported.
According to a March 24, 2017 story in The Atlantic titled, How Will Historically Black Colleges Fare Under Trump? “…the Trump administration’s “America First” budget proposal…slices federal education spending by 13.5 percent but claims to “maintain” minority institutions and HBCUs at around $492 million, the same amount the previous administration initially budgeted. But the previous administration added discretionary spending to that figure, and the New America Foundation estimates last year’s sum to be around $577 million—about 15 percent more than $492 million.”
The Atlantic article continued, “According to the budget proposal, in addition to significantly reducing federal work-study programs, the Trump administration plans on eliminating Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which offer need-based aid to around 1.6 million low-income undergraduates each year.”
A March 16th Washington Post article titled “After White House Courts HBCUs, Budget Disappoints School Leaders” reported, “There is no mention in the budget of any federal investment in scholarships, technology or campus infrastructure for HBCUs that leaders requested. And instead of expanding Pell grants for low-income students to cover summer courses as they had asked, the budget raids nearly $4 billion from the program’s reserves.”
            Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), co-chair of the congressional Bi-partisan HBCU Caucus, was leery of the Republican outreach then, and clearly felt redeemed about the lackluster results thus far.
            “…[T]his administration claimed it is a priority to advocate for HBCUs but, after viewing this budget proposal, those calls ring hollow,” Rep. Adams said in a March 16th statement, also citing “no specific increases for HBCUs.”
 “This budget slashes critical funding for institutions, students, and their families, “ she added.
            “I know, first hand, the impact that HBCUs make in students’ lives because of the impact they’ve made in mine,” Adams continued. “We must support a plan that allows our schools to not only survive but thrive. Instead of wasting billions on a useless border wall, Congress should support a budget that includes restoration of year-round Pell Grants and the substantial increase of their purchasing powerresources for HBCU infrastructure improvements, and robust funding for TRIO, Gear UP, federal work-study, and other essential financial aid programs that enhance opportunities for students.”
            While it seems clear to Rep. Adams that HBCUs will not be, as promised, a priority of this Republican president or Congress, some HBCU presidents, like Chancellor Elwood Robinson of Winston-Salem State University, are still cautiously holding out hope.
The president’s budget request is just the first stage of the federal budgeting process,” WSSU’s Chancellor Robinson said in a statement. “As the budget is more fully refined in the House and Senate, we will continue to work with our lawmakers to ensure that they continue to invest in America’s future by keeping higher education a priority.”


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Several black state House members are co-sponsoring a bill to create a statewide poverty task. That measure has been currently referred to House Appropriations Committee for review.
            HB 410 – “Root Out Poverty/Task Force Funds” is listed as “an act creating a statewide poverty task force, establishing two new personnel positions in the Department of Health and Human Services dedicated to poverty reduction and economic recovery, and appropriating funds for those purposes.”
            In establishing the poverty task force, the bill reads in part that “…poverty in this state is widespread, especially among minorities and in rural areas and other parts of the state that have lost significant numbers of jobs.”
The bill continues that, “a statewide coordinated effort is required to maximize the State's resources to reduce and potentially eradicate poverty among citizens able and willing to work.”
Among the 15 members of the task force the measure is recommending be appointed are three members of the general public, one member recommended by the NC NAACP, and one member recommended by the NC Latino Coalition. Once convened, the bill states, “ The task force shall Identify long- and short-range goals for eliminating poverty in North Carolina and Develop a coordinated, integrated, ongoing approach among State agencies, departments, and institutions to reduce poverty in the State by establishing and implementing poverty reduction targets.”
Rep. Evelyn  Terry (D-District 72) said, “Evidence-based facts now prove permanent spirals of poverty. “There's also a correlation between the two PICs---Poverty Industrial Complex and Prison Industrial Complex.”

Several Republican representatives did not respond to request for comments for this story.


            BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD… - It is hard for me to escape the fact that exactly one year ago, I was flat on my back on the fourth floor of UNC Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatment to battle acute leukemia, which was ravaging my blood cells at an alarming rate.
            I felt like an old rug at the time, and as anyone else who has gone through the same cancer experience will tell you, nothing else mattered except protecting my family, even if it meant sacrificing my own.
            So now it’s one year later, and I look back and thank GOD for bringing me through. I’m in remission now, and am working to stay that way for as long as possible. I feel muck better, stronger, and am thinking and functioning much better. I still have a limp from the stroke I had in my left leg in November 2014, and I do get tired more easily now (I chalk that up to being 61), otherwise, beyond being overweight, I feel good.
            So it is with some irony, a year later, that I find myself here in Princeton, NJ with my wife and daughter, visiting my sister-in-law in the hospital. Without going into specifics, she is not doing well, and the matter concerned us so much we decided to come and lend out support to her adult children.
            It was so strange to be in another hospital, this time as a visitor to someone close who was suffering from a debilitating disease. To be with family as they shoulder the strain, and cry the tears, wanting so badly to do something, anything to relieve the pain and suffering of their loved one.
            And to have to don rubber gloves and covering just to walk into the hospital room to protect myself because of my previous condition.
            And then there is the wait….the wait for news, any news, some indication that all of the work, care and prayers are some how making a difference. It seems like slow torture for my sister-in-law’s two adult children.
            It’s times like these now, and what happened to me a year ago, that I also have to wonder exactly what is going on in the minds and hearts of our congresspeople who are fiddling with the future of health insurance.
            Forget what’s happened to me or members of my family. I’ve met several other families who are having to put their lives on hold because of a catastrophic illness affecting someone close. The multitude of issues that buildup for families to deal with when it comes health care should be addressed sensitively once and for all, not treated as some ugly political game between a crazy president and Congress.
            There is no question that the longer we make health care a political football in this nation, the more likely it is that more and more people will die….especially the poor.
            That may be one of the reasons many people have completely lost faith, AND hope in government. They don’t see the people who are supposed to represent them, actually fighting for their interests.
            Trust me, if a catastrophic illness hasn’t hurt someone in your family yet, and I pray that it doesn’t, don’t be surprised if and when it does. You’ll need all of the comfort and assurance due you and yours. I hope that you and your family get ever bit that is due all of you, because you’ll need it.
            But for the grace of GOD…go all of us!


            [WINSTON-SALEM] A man who supporters say was falsely arrested, tried and convicted for a crime in 1997 he didn’t commit, was shot Friday night on the street by an unknown assailant.  Kalvin Michael Smith, 45, is was listed in critical but stable condition at press time. He was released from prison last November after serving 20 years in prison based on a technicality, and was in the process of proving his innocence when he was struck down. Smith’s case has been covered in the press and on MTV. At press time, Smith’s family said he is improving after several surgeries.

            [DURHAM] Citizens gathered Saturday to celebrate the designation of the childhood home of civil rights attorney Pauli Murray on Carroll Streetr as a national historic landmark. Ms. Murray, who died in 1985, was known as a champion for women’s rights, as well as an attorney, poet and priest. The Murray home is the state’s 39th historic landmark. The site will be the home to the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice, scheduled for opening in 2020.

            [RALEIGH] The controversial “bathroom law” which has cost North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars in canceled or boycotting business, was finally repealed last week under threat by the NCAA, which promised not to schedule any more collegiate events in the state until 2022. HB2 was finally repealed by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, but the repeal was not clean. In substitute legislation, municipalities are still prohibited from passing nondiscrimination ordinances for gay and transgender citizens. Liberal groups blasted Gov. Cooper and state Democrats for compromising, while conservative groups were angry that their legislative leaders capitulated to the NCAA.

            [WASH., D.C.] Authorities have found a missing eleven-year East Charlotte girl whose parents were murdered in their home Sunday. Arieyana Forney was found in a white Chevy Impala in DC  after someone called police and telling them that she had been kidnapped. A suspect in the murder of the young girl’s parents was also captured, published reports say. Charlotte police have not released a motive for the murders or the kidnapping.

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