Monday, August 28, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            OUR COLLECTIVE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN – I defy anyone to prove to me that we, as a nation, are not going through a collective nervous breakdown right now. I mean we’ve got bad news after bad news just seemingly piling up everyday on television or in the newspapers.
            Don’t get me wrong – we’ve been through this before with the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and yes, even the Watergate scandal. And after each one, for better or for worse, our nation has come out a bit different than before the experience.
            But what we’re going through right now is definitely, and literally, shaking us to our core.
            There can be little doubt that all of us are still recovering (if you want to call it that) from the tumultuous 2016 presidential election, and the highly unlikely emergence of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. The fact that such a crass, greedy pig of a man would even be seriously considered by a major party for the highest office in the world still sends chills down my spine. And yet, controversy after controversy failed to derail this heathen from the race.
            To add insult to injury, while the Republican Party found itself literally being manhandled by the Trump force, the Democratic Party was being divided by a definitive split caused by the candidacy of outsider and insurgent Sen. Bernie Sanders challenging party standardbearer Hillary Clinton. Yes, Hillary had plenty of baggage, and lots she had to answer for, the least of which was explaining her private email server in her home for official business while serving as secretary of State. And then, of course, big money she accepted as speaking fees from well-heeled Wall Street interests.
            So both major political parties were having hear attacks, and the nation was faced with some difficult, scandal-a-day choices leading right into the November 2016 elections, where the shock really came – Trump won!
            To say that everyone with any sense was speechless, is an understatement. It seemed certain that Hillary had the election sewn up…until the results began coming in, and she stalled. All of a sudden, we were all left with figuring out just how bad a Trump presidency could possibly be, based on what we knew of his past history of both personal and professional disasters.
            When January 20th, 2017, we immediately found out, as Trump gave a red meat inauguration speech, sending a clear message that the days of solid, reasoned leadership by outgoing Pres. Barack Obama were definitely over.
            It wasn’t long before we got baldfaced lies, and more lies from the White House about literally everything, and the premature pronouncements about the death of Obamacare and how a Republican-led Congress, along with this “take-no-prisoners” new Republican president, were going to radically change America “forever.”
            There were court fights over Trump’s Muslim-ban; stunning revelations that Russia had tried to influence the US presidential elections, with growing evidence that it was in concert with the Trump campaign; the firing of FBI Director James Comey and resulting controversy of allegations that Trump was attempting to shut down the FBI investigation into his campaign; accused former Pres. Obama of illegally wiretapping him before he was elected; hiring a paid agent for a foreign government to be his national security advisor, only to fire him for lying to Vice President Pence….and the list of Trump outrages continued into this week with a frightening war of words with North Korea, the fatal tragedy in Charlottesville, Trump rhetorically patting white supremacists on the back as “fine people,” and the list goes on and on.
            And now we have a monster hurricane which has devastated parts of Texas, and North Korea has indeed fired a missile that has landed in the sea of Japan.
            How much more can we take?
            It seems as if we’re all at each other’s throats, and that things are getting worse, not better. More importantly, there seems to be no moral leadership we can point to. Even leaders of the church seem to be in our crooked president’s back pocket.
            Yes, we are having a collective nervous breakdown, and it seems to be getting worse every day.
            And yet, we’ve been here before, and we’ve come out of it stronger and wiser.
            We can only hope and pray to GOD that that is exactly what will happen after this trying experience.
            The only question left is …when?


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Republican legislative leaders insist that they redrawn fair maps per the federal court’s directive, making sure that race has played no part in their construction. Thus, both the state House and Senate Republican majorities have approved their maps with few changes, over the objections of Democrats, and citizens statewide who pleaded for a nonpartisan process.
            Anita Earls, lead attorney in the Covington lawsuit that led to the US Supreme Court and a federal court to order the GOP-led legislature to redraw the voting districts,
maintains that is “just lying” that the court eliminated the use of race in redrawing the districts. The federal court clearly ruled that race could not be the predominate factor.
            “This is the worst [racial] gerrymander anyone has seen in the country,” Earls said Tuesday, adding that The Republican spin on the court directive is just “open defiance.”
            Those maps will be submitted to the three-judge panel on Friday, Sept. 1st for judicial review. If approved, those redrawn districts (28 of 170 were ruled to have been illegal racial gerrymanders when drawn per the 2011 redistricting plan), will be in effect for the 2018 midterm elections.
            Democrats, on the other hand, counter that the process was anything but fair; highly partisan, and the newly redrawn maps will be seen as equally inadequate as before.
            I would have hoped that we could have worked more with the majority party on creating fair maps,” said Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth) “There’s nothing magical in creating fair, legal, compact districts. Whether or not the committee looked at race, the court will. You can’t say that you’ve fixed the issue if you haven’t done the appropriate analysis. A more balanced representation encourages more robust debate and discussion and creates better, more balanced policy for the people. I look forward to serving the people of Forsyth County as I seek re-election.”
            Rep. Pricey Harrison (D- Guilford) shared the frustration.
            “…[T]he proposed plans do not offer an adequate remedy and do not represent appropriate remedies free from other constitutional flaws, including racial gerrymandering and grossly unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering, “Rep. Harrison said. The proposed maps also violate the state constitution’s Whole County Provision. In addition, the proposed Wake and Mecklenberg maps violate the state constitution’s prohibition on mid-decade redistricting.   I believe the maps will be challenged and may have a hard time passing muster with the federal court. I do not know if that will affect the 2018 elections, but we will be spending more taxpayer money defending the indefensible.
Republican Rep. Donny Lambeth said he wasn’t sure whether the new maps will be a done deal with the federal court, but feels the court’s directions were properly followed.
            Always hard to know and predict,” the Forsyth County Republican said.  “It appears the committee who worked on this followed the court order and it has been done by the deadline.”
            State Sen. Joyce Krawlec (R-Forsyth) also believes the redistricting process was fair.
            The redistricting hearings have been thorough, transparent and citizens have had the opportunity to provide input. I believe the districts are fair and constitutional. Only time will tell if another court case will be forthcoming. I do believe the districts will eventually be upheld and midterm elections will take place as scheduled.”
But state Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford) clearly has little faith in the new GOP-drawn maps, and feels that the federal court may have to be the final arbiter.
            North Carolina is actually a purple state- having 2.6 million Democrats; 2 million Republicans and 2 million unaffiliated voters. So the reality is that manipulating the districts to be majority Republican is neither fair, nor legal,” Sen. Robinson says. “The Republicans insisted that they did not consider race, but how can you remedy “racial gerrymandering” without looking at how they packed the districts with African Americans in 2010.  The map they have now drawn for District 28 and even in Cumberland Districts 19 and 20 continue to be gerrymandered based on racial composition.”
Sen. Robinson continued, “The courts specifically looked at my District 28 and commented on its composition.  Republicans are intent on protecting Senator Trudy Wade for whom they created a district by packing 28.  I expect that the only remedy will be in the courts.”
Robinson’s Guilford County colleague, Rep. Amos Quick III, also a Democrat, agreed.
“The effect that we are seeing from these maps is still that some votes don't count as much as others,” Rep. Quick said. “The courts have implied in their past rulings that that is unacceptable; and I hope that continues to be the case.”
Amen to that, agrees Rep. Evelyn Terry.
“Nuanced maps favoring or disfavoring individual interests, not fairness, will likely dominate the decision,” she said Tuesday. “Power and money impact public policy and political influence, absent character and integrity.”
Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford) concurred.
“In drawing these new maps, Republicans failed to use any racial date in order to fix their own illegal racial gerrymander. This leaves me concerned that the General Assembly will once again have drawn illegal maps. However, I believe an independent, non-partisan process enacted by the court could overall be in the best interest of North Carolina voters.”

                                                  NC Associate Justice Cheri Beasley

                                                        NC Associate Justice Michael Morgan

                                                US Fourth Circuit Judge James A. Wynn, Jr.

                                                      Congressman G. K. Butterfield  

                                         Chief Justice Henry E. Free

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Count today as a landmark in North Carolina history.
            For the first time ever, all past and present African-American justices of the North Carolina Supreme Court are being honored for their invaluable contributions to the state’s  judicial history during a special celebration at the Law and Justice Building in Raleigh.
            The event is part of the upcoming recognition of the 200th anniversary of the NC Supreme Court.
            On the cusp of those Court celebrations, it is timely that we reflect on the importance of diversity throughout the judiciary,” says NC Associate Justice Cheri Beasley, one of the black justices. “It's important to remember and honor Chief Justice Henry Frye for courageously accepting the challenge to move justice forward for the people of the state when 34 years ago, he became the first African-American to serve on the state's highest court. His elected service began as a legislator working to eradicate Jim Crow laws and culminated in his service as Chief Justice on the state's highest Court.”
 Justice Beasley continued, “As former and current members of the high court, Judge James A. Wynn, Jr., Congressman G.K. Butterfield, Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, Justice Michael R. Morgan and I are beneficiaries of the noble course Chief Justice Frye charted. In times like these when the state and the nation wrestle with issues often marred by racial tension, we must be mindful that it is important for the makeup of the courts to be reflective of the diverse makeup of the state's people."
Indeed, in the 200 years of the NC Supreme Court, there have only been six African-American members to sit on the high bench. Chief Justice Henry Frye was the first.
Frye retired from the practice of law in 2016. A native of Ellerbe in Richmond County and an alumnus of NC A&T University, Frye decided to become an attorney when he was denied the right to vote after being confronted with a “literacy test” as a young man fresh out of the military. He graduated UNC School of Law, later becoming one of the first blacks to be appointed as a federal prosecutor in the South.
It was 1968 when Frye was first elected to the NC House, and 1980 when he became a state senator. In 1983, he was appointed to the NC Supreme Court, and 16 years later, Justice Frye was appointed the first African-American to become chief justice. He served in that capacity for two years.
You do the best you can because you want to set an example for others,” Chief Justice Frye once said.
US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James A. Wynn, Jr. was appointed to the federal bench in 2010 by then Pres. Barack Obama. But years before, Judge Wynn briefly served on the NC Supreme Court from September 28th to November 3, 1998, after which he returned to the NC Court of Appeals from 1999 to 2010.
 The Robersonville native holds degrees from UNC-CH, Marquette University Law, and the University of Virginia School of Law. Afterwards, Wynn served in the US Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps as a JAG officer, and later a military judge.
Wynn later practice law in Greenville, and was appointed to the NC Appellate Court in 1990 before briefly serving on the NC Supreme Court, and then returning to the state appellate court before being confirmed for the federal appellate bench.
Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-12-NC) was first elected in 2004, after serving a brief stint on the NC Supreme Court from 2001 to 2002. He returned to the Superior Court before being elected to Congress two years later.
The Wilson native earned his law degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law in 1974, and years later, was elected a Resident Superior Court judge, presiding over criminal and civil cases in 46 counties.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Butterfield said today’s celebration really began with his suggestion that the six veteran justices just come together and take a picture. The next thing he knew, it evolved into a major ceremony.
“I’m excited,” the congressman said. “It’s my belief that the judicial system must be reflective of the community that it serves. You cannot have an all-white, and all-male judiciary. That is not democracy.”
 Congressman Butterfield also paid tribute to Chief Justice Henry Frye, calling him “the greatest American.”
The first black woman ever to serve on the NC Supreme Court was Patricia Timmons – Goodson, from February 2006 to December 2012. The Florence, South Carolina native earned her law degree from UNC-CH School of Law in 1979, and Master of Laws degree from Duke University School of Law in 2014.
In the early 1980s, Timmons – Goodson served as a prosecutor in Fayetteville, and then a staff attorney for the Lumbee River Legal Services. In 1984, she became a District Court judge, serving four terms. In 1997, Judge Timmons-Goodson was appointed to the NC Court of Appeals, retiring in 2005.
In 2006, then Gov. Mike Easley appointed Timmons-Goodson to the NC Supreme Court to take the place of the retiring Justice Sarah Parker, becoming the first black woman to ever serve. She was elected to continue on the high court in November 2006, stepping down in December 2012 so that then Gov. Beverly Perdue could appoint state Court of Appeals Judge Cheri Beasley to the seat.
Justice Timmons-Goodson was the appointed to the US Commission on Civil Rights by Pres. Barack Obama in 2014.
Before being appointed to the NC Supreme Court, Judge Beasley was elected to the state Court of Appeals in 2008, becoming the first African-American woman to win a statewide office without being appointed first.  She won a full eight-year term to the Supreme Court in 2014.
An alumna of Rutgers University and the University of Tennessee College of Law, Beasley was appointed as a Cumberland County District Court judge in 1999. She elected twice again until her appointment to the Court of Appeals.
Finally, Justice Mike Morgan had been a judge for over 26 years before being elected to the state Supreme Court. He served five years as a NC Administrative Law judge; ten years as a District Court judge; and had also served as a Superior Court judge since 2005.
Morgan is an alumnus of Duke University, having earned his law degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law.
Pres. Barack Obama endorsed Judge Morgan for the state Supreme Court in 2016, saying, “Judge Morgan is a fair, experienced judge who is more than qualified…”
 Associate Justice Mike Morgan was the last African-American to join the state’s high court, having been elected in November 2016. He is ever mindful of the important judicial lineage he maintains.
"This salute to those of us who have been fortunate to serve on the Supreme Court of North Carolina is a tremendous, fulfilling experience,” the New Bern native said. “I'm humbled to be associated with this strong legacy of African-American justices on our state's highest court and to be recognized with my judicial colleagues in this wonderful way.  I am a great admirer of all of them and am thrilled to share this celebration of our service with them."
Justice Morgan is also mindful of the important contributions made by African-Americans to the state’s judicial system.
“The richness of diversity which African-Americans have brought to the court system of North Carolina as judges has contributed mightily to the pursuit of justice.  We've served on all levels of the state's court system, decided the most challenging of cases, and have done so with proven ability and with steadfast commitment to the preservation of the rule of law."
Winston-Salem attorney Eric Ellison says having these six servants of justice on the highest bench in the state has everlasting meaning.
“To honor our distinguished African American Supreme Court justices is long overdue,” Ellison, who is also chair of the Forsyth County Democratic Party, said. “I personally know that each of the honorees are exemplary public servants and at the top of the legal profession. It is significant to honor them because our judicial system serves a diverse population and likewise, we need a diverse body of judges to preside over people’s affairs. Only when our judges, juries, clerks, and police officers reflect the community they serve, do we grow closer to liberty and justice for all.”
Irving Joyner, professor of law at NC Central University’s School of Law, says the fine tradition of blacks serving on the NC Supreme Court is being keenly upheld.
“Their presence on the Supreme Court bench gives us optimism that our legal system will deliver the caliber and level of justice to which we are entitled,” Prof. Joyner says. “Those African Americans who have served on the Supreme Court made outstanding contributions to the state's embracing of the "rule of law" and have elevated the North Carolina justice system to heights which it has never attained before.”
“It is now up to us to continue the aggressive fight for a more diverse and progressive court system at all levels,” Joyner continued. “We are in the middle of a heated battle right now to make our court system better responsive to the needs and aspirations of all North Carolina citizens.  We need to organize our political power bases to resist those efforts which are designed to undermine that progress and we want to ensure that the court system continues to be a progressive voice and moral authority which are needed so badly in this state.”


            [RALEIGH] The NC NAACP has announced that its 74th Annual Convention will be held in At the Raleigh Convention Center on the weekend of Oct. 5-7th. The theme for this year’s convention is “Forward Together, Not One Step Back: For Justice We NEVER Sound Retreat.” This will also be Bishop Dr. William Barber’s last state convention as president, which he has served as for the past 12 years. New officers for the civil rights organization will be elected at this time.

            [RALEIGH] Despite the fact that the US Supreme Court isn’t due to hear a Wisconsin case on the constitutionality on partisan redistricting until next year, a three-judge federal panel in Raleigh ruled this week that challenges to North Carolina’s 2016 congressional maps can proceed to trial before then. The panel rejected Republican arguments that the case should wait until the Wisconsin case is decided. The North Carolina trial, originally scheduled for next summer, was postponed awaiting this court’s decision.

            [DURHAM] In a unanimous 7-0 vote Monday, the Durham School Board decided to ban all symbols of the confederate flag, Ku Klux Klan or Nazis from its dress code on school campuses. The board also voted to strip the name of white supremacist Julian Carr from the middle school building at the Durham School of the Arts. Carr, a former confederate soldier, bragged at the dedication of the Silent Sam statute on the campus of UNC at Chapel Hill of how he beat a black woman so bad, her arms were ripped to shreds.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017


By Cash Michaels

newspaper, or turn on any news program within the past two weeks since the Charlottesville tragedy,
and you’ll swear that white folks were the ones who discovered white supremacy. Seriously. There was
a time that to hear a white person on TV say anything about white supremacy without denying that it
existed was virtually impossible.
And yes, Bill O’Reilly comes to mind. He never accepted that white supremacy existed, and he 
never will. 
Of course, the current impassioned conversation about white supremacy comes at a price, namely the 
precious life of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, the young woman who was senselessly assassinated by an 
alleged neo-Nazi coward who killed her with his car. 
I don’t care what color you are, your human heart had to bleed for this young woman who came out
to take a peaceful stand against those spouting, and promoting hate in this nation. White supremacists.
In case you’re new to the country, white supremacy, to put it bluntly, is when those of caucasian 
European descent believe the age-old lie that GOD made them superior to other human beings, especially
those of color. To add insult to injury, these deluded folks believe GOD has given them dominion over other
People…to rule the Earth, as it were.
What idiots! Common sense tells us that Almighty GOD has made us all His children to be equal in His
sight. But of course I guess we can blame this on Adam and Eve for committing the Original Sin, causing
greed, envy and a thirst for unfettered power, among other sins.
But not to be outdone by the Bible, naturally white supremacists have taken GOD’s Word an twisted it
to justify their superiority beliefs, thus, killing and raping people of color, let alone each other, for hundreds
of years. Indeed world wars have been started because of this sickness. Anyone every hear of a man called
Adolf Hitler?
So to hear white people today talk disparagingly about white supremacy today as if they have always
been against it is startling indeed. And yet, I’m glad it’s happening. And I’m especially glad its happening
among white young people who have studied their history, and are now putting that knowledge to good use.
You see, right-wing conservatives are always complaining about what is taught on our liberal arts
campuses, and the fact that there is little diversity of thought in our colleges and universities.
But let me ask you this… when is the last time you heard Tucker Carlson, or any of those other 
bright-boy conservative know-it-alls ever so much as admit that white supremacy even exists? In fact, does 
Carlson and the rest of his dim-witted crew on Fox work over-time trying to prove that Black Lives Matter
is responsible for all of the ills of the world?
And the very fact that Fox (even though it is being trounced by MSNBC everyday) still has an audience
after all of the sexual harassment that goes over there, tells you that there are still plenty of white 
supremacists left in the world.
And they all depend on Fox…especially the one in the White House!


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

After much ado, the newly proposed legislative redistricting maps were released last 
weekend, with statewide public hearings held on Tuesday, House and Senate committee
votes scheduled for today and /or Friday, and possibly a state House floor vote scheduled 
either Friday or Monday. Before the process is completed, both legislative houses are 
expected to have ratified each other’s maps, and Democrats are expected to unveil their own 
Unlike in 2011, race was not among the criteria used in drawing the new maps.
Democrats, as expected, have already turned thumbs down on the new GOP-leaning maps,
which, by order of a three-judge US District panel, are supposed to remedy the 28 out of 170 
illegal and unconstitutional racial gerrymanders drawn into the 2011 legislative redistricting 
maps. The three-judge panel ordered the districts redrawn year ago, and the US Supreme Court
affirmed that decision last June.
The judicial panel has since, after blasting Republican legislative leaders for deliberately
dragging their feet, ordered them to produce remedied maps by Sept. 1st (Sept. 15th at the 
latest) or else face having a court-appointed special master draw them, something that Democrats,
and many critics of the pending new Republican maps would welcome because it would take the GOP 
partisanship out of the process.
“My initial impression of the maps is that they’re up to the same shenanigans they were up to before the 
court slapped them on the wrist. So now maybe the court will smack ‘em upside the head and they’ll get the 
message more clearly,” Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue told Spectrum News Monday. Blue added that even
Though the Republicans said they would not employ race as one of the criteria in redrawing the maps, there’s
little question they use it to their advantage where they could.”
Speakers at the satellite public hearings were just as damning of the maps. In Raleigh, a young mother
named “Eva” said she was embarrassed that North Carolina was “no longer a democracy.” She added that the 
the process “feels like computerized apartheid.”
Eva closed by warning Republicans, ‘Don’t act like nazis - gerrymandering is white supremacy.”
As they stand now, 33 of the proposed Senate districts, and 76 of the proposed 120 state House districts
could be won by Pres. Donald Trump, based of election criteria used to draw the new maps. Only ten of 
50 Senate districts will be competitive, an analysis shows, with seven of them leaning Republican.
Only 19 of the 120 House districts are deemed competitive, with 12 leaning Republican. In effect, the 
GOP would retain their current super majorities in both houses for the 2018 midterm elections (Republicans 
currently hold 74 House seats and 35 Senate seats).
The map-drawing process was terrible,” opined Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy NC, 
a non-partisan public policy group. “The end result may be a small improvement, but overall, our quick 
review shows that about 90% of the new General Assembly districts are solidly tilted to favor one party
or another – mostly to the advantage of the Republican mapmakers.”  
“With these new maps, legislative leaders continue to rig our elections, reduce competition, 
and protect themselves from being held accountable for their actions in Raleigh,” Hall continued.
  “They want us to pay our taxes and shut up.”
Even though there was double-bunking” of a handful of incumbent lawmakers in some of the 
newly redrawn districts, for the most part, incumbents were protected. If the maps hold as planned, at least 
three African-American Democrat state lawmakers will have to fend off a Republican incumbent drawn 
into the same district come the 2018 mid-term elections.
Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram, a two-term District 3 Democrat representing Edgecombe, Chowan and
Northampton counties, will have to face three-term District 1 Republican State Sen. Bill Cook from 
Beaufort, Camden and Currituck counties in a race for District 3.
In the state House, Rep. Robert Reives II, Democrat from Chatham and Lee counties, is double-bunked
 with Republican Rep. John Sauls of District 51, currently representing Harnett and Lee counties. Rep. Jean
Farmer-Butterfield, Wilson County Democrat, has also been double-bunked against Republican Rep. Susan
Martin, but that district went to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Also, Rep. Bobbie Richardson, a District 7 three-term Democrat representing Franklin and Nash counties, 
has also been drawn into a Republican-leaning district.
Back to the state Senate, Sen. Angela Bryant, District 4 Democrat of Halifax, Nash and Wilson counties
and chair of the NC Legislative Black Caucus, is being moved into District 11 that is Republican-leaning, and 
went for Trump in 2016 56-40 percent over Hillary Clinton.
In Forsyth County, Sen. Paul Lowe’s district would change to District 29. Rep. Evelyn Terry and Ed Hanes 
will retain their current district designations with few precinct changes. Republican representatives Lambeth and 
Conrad will see changes.  
Still, Rep. Terry, who was present at the redistricting hearing in Guilford county Tuesday,
is not pleased at all with the Republican-leaning House map.
On both the House and Senate maps there are four new districts drawn that currently don’t have incumbents.
In Guilford County, House Rep. Amos Quick III, District 58 Democrat, was also not pleased with how his 
district was redrawn, saying that people he’s spoken with wanted more stability. Still, regardless of the final configuration, 
he promises to serve the constituency that he’s given.
“In the totality of the maps, they only tweaked, but did not remedy the reasons why they needed to be redrawn 
anyway,” Rep. Quick said Tuesday, adding that black voters have told him that their voice and vote should be treated fairly and constitutionally.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

The chair of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus says her members believe the political atmosphere
is too racially caustic now, especially after the tragic events of Charlottesville two weeks ago, and subsequent growing controversy surrounding the removal of confederate statues and monuments statewide, to publicly lobby for funding for the long-planned Freedom Monument project.
“The consensus of our group is that we didn’t want to conflate the issue of the African-American monument, and lack thereof, to the confederate monument issue at this point,” said State Sen. Angela Bryant (D - District 4), NCLBC chair. “We think [both issues] should be addressed separately. We don’t want them to get into a competitive issue.”
It was last March when Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, first appropriated in his proposed budget a one-time funding of $200,000 towards the design and other planning surrounding the Freedom Monument, a state monument to be erected in honor of African-American contributions to the state. The project had been originally planned under the previous
administration of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who wholeheartedly endorsed the project as “…an appropriate way to recognize the contributions to North Carolina’s history.”
Public hearings had been held statewide, and the NC Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources, along with the NC African American Heritage Commission and NC Historical Commission, was coordinating.
But when Republican legislative leaders unveiled their final $24 billion fiscal budget in June, the Freedom Monument Project was nowhere in sight. But $5 million towards a $65 million Civil War Center in Fayetteville was.
With no funding from the GOP-led legislature, the Freedom Monument Project was automatically placed in limbo.
  “Budgets show what you value,” said NC Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin. “Governor Cooper, through his budget, outlined how important it is that our state remember and honor our shared history. Republicans clearly feel otherwise – they’d rather give their offices an upgrade. I’m not sure the difference could be any clearer: Republicans value 
themselves and their power, while Governor Cooper wants to see our state remember on capital grounds our full heritage.”
Jamal Little, a spokesperson for Gov. Cooper, said the governor still wants to see the African-American monument erected near the state Capitol in Raleigh.
"The Freedom monument is long overdue, and Governor Cooper still strongly supports funding the project,” Little said. “Unfortunately, the same legislative Republicans who are standing by North Carolina's confederate monuments neglected to include Governor Cooper's $200,000 request in the final budget. That's just wrong, and Gov. Cooper supports efforts by the NC Legislative Black Caucus to have the program funded.”
The governor’s strong and steady support is indeed important, but given the events of the past two weeks, even that is not enough to get Republican legislative leaders to drop their defenses, and realize that the Freedom Monument Project that all North Carolinians should share.
Since the violent Charlottesville demonstrations that saw the murder of a counter-protester by an alleged Neo-Nazi sympathizer, and then the taking down of a confederate statue by demonstrators in front of the Old Durham County Courthouse, the atmosphere has been highly charged, especially after Gov. Cooper announced that he wanted to see all confederate statues and monuments on state property removed because they celebrated white supremacy, and a 2015 law prohibiting such repealed.
State Senate President Pro-tem Phil Berger replied that that wasn’t going to happen, and that those monuments were important memorials to North Carolina’s southern heritage.  
Sen. Bryant says trying to successfully navigate funding for the Freedom Monument Project in these current treacherous political waters would be foolhardy at best, so she and the rest of the NCLBC work continue to work behind the scenes until further notice.
“We still have negative risks that come with this project that we don’t necessarily need,” Sen. Bryant says.

STATE NEWS BRIEFS for 08-24-17

[CHAPEL HILL] An estimated 800 protesters jammed the site around the “Silent Sam” statue
on McCorkle Place on UNC- CH campus, demanding that the confederate soldier monument be removed. Three people
were arrested as university officers had trouble controlling the crowd. Earlier in the day, authorities had installed 
double barricades around the statue to keep demonstrators from doing damage to it. Some protestors quipped that
given the barricades, Silent Sam was better protected than the students on campus. Others suggested that the 
Statue be placed in a museum.

[GREENSBORO]  In an unexpected move, undoubtedly because of the tragic events in Charlottesville, Va.
where a young woman was killed by allegedly by a neo-Nazi, the Greensboro City Council voted 7-1 to 
apologize for the city’s role in the November 3, 1979 so-called “Greensboro Massacre.” Five anti-Klan demonstrators
were gunned down by Ku Klux Klan and Nazis in the predominately black Morningside Homes community. Ten
other demonstrators were wounded.After two trials, all of the white supremacists were acquitted of murder. During
a later investigation, it was determine that Greensboro police officers assigned to the area that day were nowhere to
be found when the shooting broke out.

[BURLINGTON] An Alamance County commissioner said during Monday evening’s county commission meeting
That he preferred calling slaves who worked for his family while he was growing up “workers.” Republican Commissioner
Tim Sutton, during a discussion about confederate statues, said, referring to his great-grandfather’s service in the 
Confederate Army, “ “It is my understanding that when he died ... that some guys on the farm, you can call them slaves if 
you want to, but I would just call them workers, that they raised a good bit of my family. When the time came, my 
great-grandmother gave them land.” Sutton added, “I am not going to be a victim of political correctness. I am just not 
going to do it. Label me all you want, say what you will about me.” Citizens attending the commission meeting were asking
that confederate statues be removed.

Monday, August 14, 2017


By Cash Michaels

TRAGIC NATION - On occasion, I appear on the statewide public affairs program,
“NC Spin,” produced and hosted by Tom Campbell, a fine man. Among the guests Tom always 
has on “…to get the correct spin,” is conservative John Hood, formerly of the right-wing John 
Locke Foundation. He does write a column for the Carolina Journal online. John is smart, and 
isn’t out on the fringes like so many of his conservative brethren. He likes movies, and is a prolific author.
In short, John may be a conservative, but he does employ common sense more times than not.
So last weekend after the horrific events that took place in Charlottesville, I saw a Facebook post
that John authored that left an impression:
The populism, racism, and bigotry inherent in the “alt-right” movement and its more radical 
sympathizers do not reflect the principles of the modern conservative movement, and in fact are antithetical 
to those principles. Conservative leaders should explicitly and repeatedly condemn them. To the extent that 
the Republican Party represents the political aspirations of most modern conservatives in America, GOP 
politicians have a responsibility to do the same — to explicitly repudiate alt-right personalities, institutions, 
and ideas. They should make it clear that they do not want the votes of the David Dukes and Richard Spencers
of the world. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, most did some version of this, more or less effectively.
In his initial response, Donald Trump did not. This was, at the very least, gross incompetence or cowardice on 
the part of the president and his team. That's why they are attracting so much criticism across the board. 
When Bernie Sanders, of all people, does a better job of explicitly distancing himself from the violent acts of 
someone who purports to agree with him, there ought to be a lesson here for conservatives and Republicans 
who want their movements and policies to survive and thrive. 
I appreciated those words from John, but I noticed one thing that was glaringly missing, so I responded.
John, there is only one thing I can add to your otherwise excellent analysis, and you may choose to 
disagree, but this has been my experience and observation - conservatives and Republicans may not care for 
white supremacists and alt-right crowd, but they have conveniently turned the other way, or hidden behind these
 folks when it suited their purposes. Only when something like the Charleston Church massacre, or Charlottesville
happens, do conservatives and Republicans feel the coast is clear for them to condemn abhorrent racism that is quite apparent to the rest of us. The fact that it took the murders of nine black church members, including the pastor, to finally remove what had become a symbol of racial hatred from the SC capitol, tells you how convenient it was for Republican politicians to rest on their laurels about the issue, not wanting to proactively do anything until it became too politically untenable.When people like Trump publicly assaulted the American citizenship of the nation's first black president, people like Speaker Boehner stood by and allowed it to happen for political advantage, instead of standing up for American values and denouncing such hurtful nonsense. As an African-American, these incidents of convenient outrage further deaden me to what investment I have in this nation, or it's promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I don't see brave champions of American promise, but crass opportunists jockeying for power at all costs. Oh yes, this is where that old song about "well it happens on all sides" chimes in. Of course all, or even most Democrats or liberals are not sinless when it comes to the issue of race and justice. Even a cursory look at history tells us that. But given the primary behaviors of those currently in power when it comes to voting rights, redistricting, and overall social justice, the Republican Party has made it very clear that my citizenship and well-being take an extreme back seat to its aspirations of political dominance. So, in closing, John, the question must be asked....will it take another tragic day in America, where a young white woman gave her life for an America she deeply believed in, amid scenes of Americans at a most uncivil war, for conservatives and Republicans to once again gather the GUTS and COURAGE to act like Americans, and denounce pure NAZI hate and bigotry?        Because if we have to wait THAT long.........
Of course, several of John’s right-wing Facebook friends didn’t like my response, and said so.
And the beat goes on…..

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

The searing images of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists battling on the streets of Charlottesville, Va. 
with counter-protesters last Saturday, culminating in the tragic murder of a young white woman when a car
driven by an alleged Nazi sympathizer slammed into an unsuspecting crowd, are still in the minds and hearts
of most African-Americans almost a week later.
“The hate and violence we’ve witnessed in Virginia is reprehensible and has no place in our society,” said
Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-12-NC). “As a nation, we are better than this. It’s time we come together to stand up and boldly stamp out bigotry and hate.” 
Rep. Adams was joined in her expression of concern about the racist violence in Charlottesville by some of her North Carolina Republican colleagues, representatives Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, Patrick McHenry, and Sen. Thom Tillis.
The hate, bigotry and violence on display in Charlottesville is despicable and represents the complete opposite of what America stands for,” Sen Tillis tweeted Sunday.
But some black religious and social justice leaders, like Bishop William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, say statements of racist outrage from Republican leaders about Charlottesville ring hollow when the policies of these same NC GOP congresspeople against the interests of African-Americans are taken into account.
  To say you are against white supremacy without standing up against the policies that embolden white supremacist reeks of a terrible ignorance or deliberate hypocrisy,” Bishop Barber said in an interview.
“[Republican leaders] and others oppose the white supremacy in Charlottesville. OK, we all do. But here is the test - will they call for [White House presidential adviser Stephen] Bannon and alt-right policies to be removed from their agenda? Will they fully reinstate the Voting Rights Act to stop racist voter suppression and gerrymandering? Will they acknowledge the racist voters suppression in 2016 and join [the US Supreme Court] to condemn racist gerrymandering? Will they stop the racist attacks on immigrants? Will they challenge and stop [US Attorney General Jeff Sessions]  from ending affirmative action? Will they increase and call for support of federal investigation of unarmed blacks killed by police? Will they repent from how silent they were when Trump used birtherism [against Pres. Obama] to rally white supremacists for his campaign?”
Wilmington native Rev. Kojo Nantambu says the racial violence the world saw in Charlottesville on Saturday was something the country has been slowly moving towards ever since Dr. King’s death,
and could certainly happen here in North Carolina. White militia groups have been stocking up on weapons, preparing for a race war, especially after the election of the first black president, Barack Obama.
The only reason they hadn’t emerged until now, Rev. Nantambu contends, is because the Obama Justice Dept. had clamped down on them during his eight years in office. But now that Donald Trump is 
president, the white supremacist movement is beginning to rebound.
What Nantambu rails against most is the difference in how black demonstrators and white protesters are traditionally treated by police. As seen on Saturday in Charlottesville, where law enforcement did little to stop gun-wielding white neo-Nazis from parading their weapons in public (Virginia is an open carry state, but since most of those “Unite the Right” demonstrators were from out-of-state, if they brandished a gun, they were
breaking federal law for illegally transporting firearms across state lines). The neo-Nazis were able too push and shove police officers without incident, a stark difference from Ferguson, Mo. three years earlier where police confronted black demonstrators with tanks and high-powered weapons.
In Charlottesville Friday night, white supremacists even threatened a black church where ministers and counter-protesters were rallying in peace. Again, police did nothing to protect the churchgoers.
“So yes, this is going to get worse, even here in Wilmington,” Rev. Nantambu said.
Rev. Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community Center of Greensboro, has indeed seen Neo-Nazi and KKK violence before, right here in North Carolina. 
On Nov. 3, 1979, five protesters in an anti-Klu Klux Klan march and rally were fatally shot by KKK and neo-Nazis. Rev. Johnson was the leader of that rally, and was arrested by police, who curiously were nowhere to be found once the shooting occurred. It was later determined that the white supremacists went to rally with the soul intention to kill, and yet, after two trials, none of them were ever convicted.
Now, 38 years later, Rev. Johnson looked back, knowing full well, that the “atmosphere” is ripe, for more 
racist violence like was seen in Charlottesville, and Greensboro.
“Everything that happened in Charlottesville is relevant, and North Carolina should be paying attention to all of it,” he said in a phone interview Sunday. Johnson went on to say that there are “political and economic forces that have been out of kilter” for many years, resulting in both whites and blacks to suffer accordingly. But while there are many whites who have struggled and are struggling economically - the very group that powered Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory -  there is little question that African-Americans have suffered more, and continue to do so.
Rev. Johnson believes that both groups are being manipulated to turn against each other by politicians and the wealthy, with poor whites being made to believe that African-Americans are to blame for their economic struggles.
“The fact that we are manipulated against each other is rooted in white supremacy itself,” Johnson maintains,  adding that the solution lies in “raising people’s moral and ethical understanding” about how they are being exploited by the institutional “undergirding economic forces.”
Rev. Johnson noted that beyond the documented fact that white supremacists went to both Charlottesville and Greensboro with violent intentions, another similarity was how public officials in Greensboro, and President. Trump after Charlottesville, all tried to equivocate that everyone involved was responsible for the fatal outcomes.
Veteran civil rights leader Rev. John Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem agrees with Bishop Barber that denouncing extremist racists is easy for Republican lawmakers, but taking stock of the cultural and institutional racism that laces their public policy when it comes to voter suppression, redistricting, LGBTQ rights or helping poor communities of color achieve equal opportunity, is something they’re not willing to acknowledge.
“A lot of people will jump on [what happened Saturday] because they think that’s what racism is…extremism, the Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, etc. But they reject or deny everyday racism that goes on in subtle ways in public policy.”
Rev. Mendez agrees that it is not a stretch to conceive of the  same events in Charlottesville happening here. The election of President. Donald Trump to office has exacerbated growing racial and political divisions that can only fuel even more confrontations if strong, moral leadership does not rise to the occasion.
“It’s a national atmosphere now,’ he said. “What happened Saturday was a strategic run, a test …to see if 
[white racist violence] could fly.”
Rev. Mendez added that unlike Ferguson, Missouri, where local police “attacked” protesters after the police
shooting of Michael Brown, police in Charlottesville were noticeably restrained against the neo-Nazis and other 
white supremacists.
Religious and social justice leaders say in light of Charlottesville, and what they say is Pres. Trump’s lack of moral leadership, there must be a coming together of people from all corners to help save this nation.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacist activity across the nation,
there are numerous Klan and neo-Nazi groups headquartered in North Carolina, particularly in the western part of the state.
On Monday evening in Durham, anti-racist demonstrators pulled down a confederate statue that previously stood in front of the old Durham County Courthouse, and took turns stomping it. Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted in response, saying, “the racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments."
By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

According to reliable legislative sources, after the Special Session reconvenes Friday, preliminary redistricting maps may be completed then (or by Monday), with public hearings tentatively scheduled to take place either Tuesday, August 22nd or Wednesday, August 23rd in six to eight locations across the state. Depending on the location, various state lawmakers are expected to be present at those hearings.
Then on Thursday, August 24th and Friday, August 25th, there will be committee votes on the new maps. Floor
votes the following week (of August 28th) in both the state House and Senate are scheduled, with each voting to approve their respective redistricting maps, and then ratifying the other chamber’s version. That is the tentative schedule, with all relevant materials submitted to the three-judge federal court panel that ordered them submitted by Sept. 1st for judicial review.
Given the criteria adopted by the Republican-led Joint Redistricting Committee on August 10th, the 
new voting districts - to be drawn to remedy the 28 of 170 districts that were determined by the federal court 
to be illegal racial gerrymanders in the 2011 redistricting plan - will use the population figures from the 2010
US Census, employing the data from each legislative district to make them as equal numerically as possible, within
+ /or - five-percent deviation, as required by federal law.
The legislative districts will also comply with county boundaries as much as possible, maintaining county
groupings and not crossing county lines unless permitted by previous case law.
Using 2010 Census data and respecting county lines was all Republicans and Democrats could agree on
during the four-and a-half-hour session. The other seven voting map criteria were adopted amid fierce partisan debate, including criteria allowing for use of previous election data, split precincts and protection of sitting incumbents who were ironically elected from illegal districts in the first place. Democrats argued that ultimately, their views and concerns about the process weren’t being fairly considered at all.
What seems evident is that there may also be “double-bunking,” where some districts are redrawn in a manner forcing two current incumbents in separate districts to suddenly be redrawn into the same district, having to compete against each other for reelection. Democrats fear Republican leaders may use this redistricting tactic to punish the minority party.
Of particular concern was the Republican requirement that race not be used as a factor in redrawing the new
maps at all. This was a complete about-face from how the GOP “stacked -and-packed” black Democratic voters into
as few legislative districts as possible per the 2011 maps for the expressed purpose, according to the three-judge federal panel with concurrence from the US Supreme Court, to insure that they had as little influence as possible on surrounding legislative races between white Democrats and Republicans.
The court ruled that race was the predominate, illegal reason why those 28 districts were drawn. But now, Republicans were swinging the other way, saying that race, which legally can be a contributing factor in drawing maps, not the main factor, would not be used at all. For many current black elected lawmakers, all Democrat, that meant the percentage of black constituents in their respective districts could be reduced. There was also concern about the 1965 Voting Rights Act being violated, thus forcing the federal court to ultimately throw out the new maps, and further delaying the redistricting remedying process.
“We live in the South,” said state Sen. Paul Lowe Jr. (D-Forsyth). “When, in the South, has race not been a factor?”
“You’re still short-changing a group of people when you don’t consider us,” lamented veteran lawmaker Rep. H.M.“Mickey” Michaux, Jr. “The districts were declared unconstitutional because of race. If you don't use race to correct it, how are you going to show the court that they're not still unconstitutional?"
Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), chair of the House Select Committee on Redistricting who oversaw the 2011 redistricting maps, ignored Michaux’s reasoning, replying that he would not respond.
Legislative sources say leaders in the state’s African-American community should pay very close attention at how the new maps are drawn, given that race has now been totally divorced from the proceedings.
At the end of the long session, Democrats found little comfort in the outcome. They found even less comfort in knowing that the same Republican mapmaker responsible for drawing the 2011 voting districts found to be illegal because of  racial gerrymandering, Thomas Hofeller, has been rehired at $50,000 to redraw his original work.
So far, the GOP strategy has been to delay as long as possible to protect their veto proof majority,”wrote political analyst Thomas Mills in his online PoliticsNC column recently. “Maybe drawing maps under criteria that might not pass muster is part of that strategy. Either they get maps that will heavily favor Republicans again or they can draw out the suit over the next election cycle, keeping the current districts intact. Seems that’s a bad bet, but who knows?”


[PELHAM] The Grand Dragon for the Loyal Knights of the Ku Klux Klan said in a voicemail to a 
local television station Monday that he was “glad” a 32-year-old Charlottesville woman was killed Saturday when 
a neo-Nazi rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Grand Dragon Justin Moore said,  “I'm sorta glad that them people got hit and I'm glad that girl died. They were a bunch of Communists out there protesting against somebody’s freedom of speech, so it doesn't bother me that they got hurt at all. I think we're going to see more stuff like this happening at white nationalist events.” Moore and his group were in Charlottesville last Saturday along with several other white supremacists. “We should have been able to go out there and have our protest and it should have been peaceful but it's the anti-fascist and the communists...continuing to try and stop us,” he continued. “So I think there will be more violence like this in the future to come.” Moore also later praised the alleged killer police have arrested for the murder in a recorded message at his headquarters.

[RALEIGH]  Gov. Roy Cooper has asked the NC Dept. of Cultural Resources to determine what the costs would be
to remove confederate statues from state property. In a public message, Cooper advocated removing the historic monuments, and also wants a 2013 law passed by the Republican-led legislature protecting them repealed, saying  that cities and counties across the state should have the authority to remove them if they wish.

[DURHAM] Takiyah Thompson, a member of the Workers World Party, was arrested Tuesday a day after she
and an estimated 100 demonstrators pulled a confederate statue in front of the old Durham County Courthouse. Thompson allegedly climbed the ladder to put the rope around the statue to allow others to pull it down. Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews vows that everyone involved in destroying the statue were on videotape, and would be apprehended. “No one is getting away with what happened,” he said.