Sunday, July 23, 2017



            With the beginning of the school year here in New Hanover County fast approaching, and many students of color attending schools, The Journal wants to know, “Has your child been the victim of racial bullying at school?”
            Have you had to fight the school system in the past because very little or nothing was done when your child was targeted? Have you feared for the health and safety of your student?
            Let us know your story here at The Journal. E-mail us at, or write to us at [insert address]
            The Journal is considering a town hall meeting where this issue can be discussed, and answers from the school system can be obtained.
            No child should be the victim of any type of bullying, racial or otherwise, but the community can’t addressed the problem unless we know about it first. So email us at, or write to us at [ insert address ].
            We want to hear from you.
            Thank you.


By Cash Michaels

            THE BIG TAKEOVER – I know, I know, you are tired of hearing of and reading about what new injustice Pres. Donald Trump is behind, and quite frankly, I don’t blame you. Even Tricky Dick Nixon waited a while after he got to the White House before he began acting crazy.
            Trump clearly lost his marbles before the election; during the election, and certainly after the election. Now this madman is talking about pardoning himself and his family of any and all crimes should the day come when Special prosecutor Robert Mueller finally decides to nail their Russian-loving behinds to the wall.
            But in the meantime, we have to put up with The Donald and all of his craziness until Mueller and company slap on the cuffs (I know we may never see THAT, but I’m more than willing to settle for Trump’s fellow Republicans impeaching him from office. Mind you, that would give us Mike Pence, but with any luck, hopefully Mueller has plenty of dirt on Mr. “Nice-n-Tidy” too.
            But until then, here’s what’s becoming a growing concern – Trump is filling up federal judicial seats. He’s picking some of the most right-wing candidates to become federal judges we’ve ever seen.
            In case you didn’t know it, federal judges, once confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, serve on the bench FOR LIFE! That’s why, if your court case is in federal court, you’re essentially dealing with someone you can’t touch, unless you’ve got photographs of him or her in a compromising position, if you know what I mean?
            Well, during the eight years that Pres. Barack Obama served in office, didn’t he get to nominate a whole lot of progressive-to-moderate judicial candidates to fill various seats? Yes and no. Oh yes, the president indeed nominated many names for the federal bench, but the Republicans  in the Senate found ways to block those Obama nominees from ever getting anywhere.
            Two of those judicial nominees were from right here in North Carolina, two black women, one a federal prosecutor and the other a retired state Supreme Court justice, and our Republican Senator Richard Burr had a problem with both of them.
            Neither of them went anywhere.
            Well guess what. The 44-county Eastern District judicial sear those two black women nominated to by Pres. Obama, is being targeted for a right-wing Republican attorney named Thomas Farr now. And given how he has led GOP efforts in recent years to defend voter ID and racially gerrymandered redistricting, his credentials are exactly what Trump and his clan are4 searching for, especially since the Eastern District is 27% black.
            But even though Republicans are in charge in the US Senate, surely they will use their better judgment and not put someone on the federal bench just because he or she have an “R” after their name?
            Guess again!
            Last week, on a party-line vote, Senate Republicans voted to confirm judicial candidate John Bush to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bush is a Kentucky lawyer, but he is best known as a pretty fierce political blogger (under a fake name) who authored such gems like Pres. Obama was born in Kenya, and likened the 1973 Roe v Wade decision to the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision.
            At least one Republican senator was quoted as saying he was “not impressed” with Bush, but guess what, that GOP senator fell right in line with the rest of his party and voted the wrong-way blogger onto the court.
            So anyone doubting that Thomas Farr can make it is fooling themselves.
            So pay careful attention of where the Farr story goes now. The NC NAACP has come out against Farr, as has Congressman G. K. Butterfield and others.
            The bottomline to all of this is that the longer Trump and Pence remain in office, the more conservative federal judges we will get who will last or a lifetime.
That fact right there should scare us all out of our minds.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            [GREENSBORO] Today in a US Middle District courtroom before a special three-judge federal District Court panel, arguments began to determine when legislative districts that were originally racially gerrymandered in the 2011 redistricting by the Republican-led NC General Assembly will be redrawn, and if special elections can be held before the 2018 mid-term elections.
 All briefs in the case were filed on Friday, July 21st.
            Both sides - plaintiffs (attorneys for Sandra Little Covington and others) and defendants (lawyers for the Republican-led NC General Assembly and the state Board of Elections) were scheduled to be given 90 minutes to present testimony by way of witnesses, and supporting evidence, to convince the court of the best remedy available.
            Plaintiffs have filed a brief saying, in essence, that the moment the US Supreme Court affirmed in June the three-judge panel’s August 2016 ruling that 28 of 100 legislative districts were unconstitutional because of racial gerrymandering, the Republican-led NC General Assembly had no authority to override Gov. Cooper’s vetoes because lawmakers were elected illegally, and cannot have that authority until all districts are redrawn, declared legal by the court, and special elections held.
            Plaintiffs say state lawmakers can redraw the districts when they reconvene during their upcoming Aug. 3rd special session, which starts next week. New maps could be enacted by August 11th, with a candidate-filing period between Sept. 11th and Sept. 25th.
            Primaries could be held Dec. 5, 2017, and the special legislative elections held on March 6th, 2018. Absentee voting for both the primaries and special elections were built into the plaintiff’s plans when they were scheduled to introduce in court today, according to documents filed.
             Six witnesses are listed for the plaintiffs, including Gary Bartlett, former executive director of the NC State Board of Elections; George Gilbert, former director of the Guilford County Board of Elections; and state Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), one of the 2011 redistricting leaders responsible for the racially gerrymander districts.
            Per the defendants’ “witness designation”  court papers, Kim  Westbrook Strach, executive director of the NC Bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement, is scheduled to be called. State Attorney General Josh Stein is representing the state.
            Defendants say special elections cannot be held before the 2018 mid-term elections because it would be disruptive to legislators elected in 2016 to two-year terms who would have their tenures unfairly cut short, only to have to run again in 2018.
            Most legal and political observers say so much time has passed since August 15, 2016 when the judicial panel originally ordered new maps by March 2017, followed by special elections in August-September 2017. But the US Supreme Court later stayed that order, at the request of Republican lawmakers, until it agreed last month that the maps needed to be remedied, and ordered the three-judge panel to consider other options beyond its original order for special elections.
            Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, ordered the legislature into a 14-day special session to immediately redraw the maps, but Republican legislative leaders ignored his order, saying it was unconstitutional, and that he could only do so on “extraordinary occasions.”
             Prior to the federal hearing today, Republican legislative leaders called for two special sessions in August and September, adding that based on that schedule, new redistricting maps should be ready by November 15th, a date that gives no time for special elections this year.



by Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

            Last March, when Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, submitted his proposed state budget, he appropriated $200,000 for “Freedom Monument Planning,” to provide, “…one-time funding for the African American Heritage Commission to complete the planning, construction, and related costs of the African American Monument on the southeast corner of the State Capitol grounds.”
            Republican legislative budget-writers ignored the governor’s proposed appropriation, however, and now the Freedom Monument project, planning for which began over two years ago under Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, is officially idle, unless the GOP has a sudden, yet unexpected, change of heart.
            But the Freedom Monument is not the only long-term project honoring African American contributions to the state’s history that Republican leadership reportedly turned their backs on.
“Freedom Park,” also planned for near the state Capitol, is a creature of the North Carolina Freedom Project, a registered IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable corporation. Touted as “…the public park celebrating freedom and the African American experience,” the planned park is slated to be developed on one acre of land between the state Legislative Building and the Governor’s Mansion on the corner of Lane and Wilmington streets in Raleigh.
With initial funding starting in 2002 from the Paul Green Foundation, named after the famed Pulitzer Prize-winning author and playwright, the private effort steadily attracted donors who shared the vision of a place reflecting the deep roots of black contributions to the state both in the past, and towards the future.
It attracted august leadership like historian Dr. John Hope Franklin, and famed civil rights attorney and educator Julius Chambers.
 In 2004, the project, then known as the “Freedom Monument Project,” received its nonprofit status.
In 2008 -10, under the leadership of then state Rep. Alma Adams (D-Guilford), the Democrat-led legislature,  a $197,500 grant was awarded for planning and development. Another $100,000 was donated by Paul Green, Jr. and his wife, followed by various corporate donations.
Professional fundraisers were hired to develop a strategy, with the ultimate goal a $5 million capital campaign.
In 2015-16, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation helped to redesign the original concept for what was now known as the “Freedom Park,” bringing onboard famed architect Phil Freelon (known for designing the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC). Freelon’s new design was unveiled in December 2016.
Led by a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board, the Freedom Park is slated for completion by 2020, assuming its $5 million fundraising goal is met. By all accounts, however, that effort has stalled.
Dr. Goldie Frinks Wells of Greensboro is the co-chair of the project’s Board of Directors. She confirmed Tuesday that private fundraising for the park has hit a ditch.
“We’re really trying to get a big donor to get the ball rolling for us,” she said, indicating that meetings with large corporations are ongoing. “We’re moving forward.”
But Dr. Wells also confirmed that two weeks before the just approved state budget was passed in June, Republican House Speaker Tim Moore met with representatives of the Freedom Park project, was very welcoming and “sounded so hopeful” about their request for state budget funding.
But in the end, Dr. Wells says, they got nothing.
“We were left out completely,” she said.
Civil rights activist Linda Sutton of Winston-Salem is a former member of the Freedom Park Advisory Committee. She noted how Republicans appropriated $5 million from the latest budget for the new Civil War Center in Fayetteville, and not a dime to the Freedom Monument, or neither, apparently, the Freedom Park project.
“I guess that was more important,” Ms. Sutton quipped.



            [WILMINGTON] With nervous local officials looking on, Gov. Roy Cooper Monday vowed that the state would aggressively address the Gen X water contamination problem, starting with denying Chemours, the chemical company in Fayetteville that produces the substance, a permit to continue to dump it in the Cape Fear River, the region’s primary drinking water source. The governor also said he is asking the NC General Assembly for more funding for the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality to continue it’s investigation and testing.  Cooper also said that the State Bureau of Investigation is looking into possible criminal charges regarding the dumping of Gen X into the Cape Fear.
            Gen X levels in the Cape Fear have dropped since Chemours was ordered to stop its dumping several weeks ago.
            Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, said that based on her agency’s testing, the water in Wilmington is safe to drink. However, several citizens say they don’t trust the water despite that assurance, and want done to either filter it more efficiently, or provide other sources for drinking and bathing.

            [RALEIGH] Thanks to budget cuts by the state legislature, the state Board of Education ordered the state Dept. of Public Instruction to cut $2.5 million. That means seven full-time employees and three temporary workers are being laid off; eight vacant positions will be eliminated; and 19 instructional coaches will get pay cut and have their terms of service shortened. More cuts are expected in the coming weeks. Officials say the reductions will impact counties with low-performing schools, and also teacher training. State Board of Education member Eric Davis said the budget cuts will “adversely impact our students…”


            [NEW ORLEANS, LA.] At the annual national convention of the NAACP in Baltimore this week, the NC NAACP was cited being the number one state conference in the nation for membership growth in 2016. That, coupled with the consecration of NC NAACP Pres. William Barber as a bishop in The College of Affirming Bishops last Saturday in New Orleans made this a good week for the civil rights leader.

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