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.


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