Monday, October 2, 2017


By Cash Michaels

OUR COLLECTIVE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN CONTINUES – This is different. Yes, as a nation, we’ve had hurricanes, and threats of nuclear war, and forest fires, and destructive floods, and mass shootings before.
But we’ve never had them bunch together so closely in a span of a few weeks, if not months. And to top it all off, we’ve never had a leader as a president so emotionally inept as the blonde-hair clown we have in the Oval Office now.
            When the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. happened a few years ago, as a nation, we had an angry and frustrated President Barack Obama come out to the world, denounce Congress for its repeated failure to pass even a federal background checks law, let alone any other serious gun control legislation, and promising that he would never let up on lawmakers as long as he remained in office.
            26 human beings – 20 of them small children, were gunned down at that Newtown school shooting, and yet, regardless of tremendous pressure from Pres. Obama and the American people, the Republicans in Congress, clearly in the back pocket of the National Rifle Association, proudly did absolutely nothing to make guns harder to get in our society.
            And so now, fast forward to last Sunday night, and the Las Vegas mass shooting, where a lone, crazed gunman rents a hotel suite on the 32nd floor, brings 19 guns with him, some with a scope, some converted to automatic capacity with the power and capability of a machine gun, and literally sprays helpless people has they attend a country music festival downstairs several hundred yards away.
            As crass as it sounds, with 22,000 people in attendance below, the gunman was literally shooting fish in a barrel, ultimately killing 59, and wounding almost 530.
            Las Vegas is now in the history books for being the home of the deadliest mass murder in modern US history.
            And when our current president took to the airwaves, taking a break from criticizing Puerto Ricans “wanting everything done for them” after Hurricane Maria completely devastated their island (which is also an American commonwealth, thus making them citizens), sure he spoke in softer tones as usual, and of course he spoke yarns about Americans “coming together” and la-de-da-de-da.
            But did the blonde behind-cavity say anything about curbing access to dangerous firearms, like his predecessor insisted on to a deaf-and-dumb do noting Congress?
            Of course not.
            Heck, this Congress spend the last seven years, with a Republican majority, trying to get rid of Obamacare, and couldn’t do it. They aren’t worth the breath it takes to even think of their party’s name.
            So it seems like, as a nation, we simply can’t get a moment’s peace. Our collective nervous breakdown continues, and we have absolutely no moral leader that we can depend on to at least exhibit some common decency through it all.
            We all know this man’s heart – he doesn’t have one. And we all know that instead of trying to stop a looming war with North Korea, he’s more than willing to start one.
            We know that instead of trying to help the devastated people of Puerto Rico, he’s trying to kick them while they’re down.
            And we know that instead of saving face, and coming clean about how much he knows about the Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election that allegedly helped to get him elected, he’d rather play hide-n-seek with investigators until they haul his blonde backside out of the Oval in cuffs for the world to see.
            Thus far, we’ve seen a lot, folks. But something tells me, we’re nowhere near seeing it all yet!
            GOD help us!



By Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            Both candidates vying to succeed Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II as president of the NCNAACP during elections this week at the 74th Annual NCNAACP Convention in Raleigh, say they will continue the special relationship the state’s oldest civil rights organization has had with the Black Press in order to keep the African-American community both informed about emerging issues, and empowered to confront them collectively.
 “I don’t know that I would do anything different from Dr Barber,” said Rev. Rochelle, “except always keep the community informed about the issues that we’re dealing with, and any statements we want to make on the issues, and continue to hold press conferences when needed, to get the information out to the general public. It’s important that the community knows the steps we’re taking on issues.”
When asked if he, too, will maintain the tradition that Dr. Barber so aptly established in working closely with Black newspapers to both inform and empower, Rev. Spearman replied, “Oh God, will I!”
“Everywhere I’ve been as a pastor in North Carolina, I have been a person who has advocated to our people how important it is for us to support the Black Press,” Rev. Spearman said. “I purchased Black newspapers for the churches I have been pastor of , I have a very good working relationship with [local Black newspapers]. I think that the Black Press and Black news is so vital to us as a people.”
“So yes,” Rev. Spearman added, “I would continue that.”
In closing, both Rev. Rochelle and Rev. Spearman had special messages for the NCNAACP members who they hope will vote for them as the next president.
            “Stakeholders are risk takers,” said Rev. Rochelle. “And I believe that if we’re going to be in a movement, we need to be totally involved. We can’t be part-time, or once-a-month leaders.”
            “We must be alert, and actively working in our communities at all times, not just when something ugly happens. We need to be prepared, our people, to be aware, to go to the legislature and be aware of what’s going on, what laws are being changed…all of those things are important in order to make sure that our people are informed, and knowledgeable about situations that are affecting them.”
            “We can be resources to help our people prepare to be up-to-date, and to be knowledgeable about things that are affecting them,” said Rev. Rochelle.
            For Rev. Spearman, he wants NCNAACP membership throughout the state to know that he is seasoned, experienced, and above all, is not afraid to take on the pressures and challenges of the state NAACP presidency.
            “I’ve been tellin’ folk, “I’m ‘woke,’ and I ain’t ‘skerd!’” I’m ready to go into this thing. If I were to make it into the leadership of the NAACP, I’m like a dead man. I’m already dead, you can’t kill me. I’m going to stand with my people, I’m going to do all that I can to be that catalyst for change. Whatever I need to do for them to try to do all that I can to protect them, that’s what I’m going to do.”
            “So call me “the late T. Anthony Spearman” if you have to, but that’s something that I genuinely believe.”
            Elections for NCNAACP offices, including president, take place Saturday, Oct. 7th during the 74th Annual NCNAACP Convention in Raleigh.


By Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            For Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the NCNAACP, the last 12 years of leadership have indeed been challenging, but as he steps aside this week during the 74th annual NCNAACP Convention in Raleigh, where a new president will be elected, he looks back humbly, knowing that he’s leaving the state conference – which was $80,000 in debt when he took over in 2005 -  in better shape than he found it.
            “The one thing that people need to know about the NAACP is that it’s multi-faceted, and not a one-issue organization,” Dr. Barber said during a recent exclusive phone interview. “When you are a servant-leader, you have to be nimble; you have to work with a lot of personalities and issues all at the same time. Which is why one of the things I’ve shared with people running for president of the state conference … though it is a volunteer position, though you do not get a salary, you really better be in for full-time work, and full-time service. Especially in a state like North Carolina – the largest state conference in the South, and the second largest in the country (the NCNAACP was just recently awarded First Place at the national NAACP Convention for having the most membership growth in the nation in the past year).”
            Recently named president emeritus of the North Carolina state conference, and a permanent member of the conference Executive Committee, Dr. Barber recalls many battles he’s led the NCNAACP into, in the areas of education, civil rights, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, LBGTQ rights, affordable health care, criminal justice and economic justice, many of which ended in victory for the people.
            The NCNAACP’s many hard fought victories in voting rights, starting with the statewide establishment of One Stop/Early Voting/same day registration, and culminating, thus far, with victories in the US Supreme Court and federal courts in cases involving unconstitutional voter suppression laws and redistricting maps by North Carolina’s Republican-led General Assembly.
            Barber says these voting rights victories are historic, and resound far beyond the borders of North Carolina.
            “To be able to fight, and win against the worst voter suppression laws since Jim Crow, and the worst gerrymandering since the 19th century…now that’s huge!,” Dr. Barber exclaimed, noting that NCNAACP lawyers could not have won without a movement on the ground. “The cases that we’ve won here in North Carolina have literally shifted jurisprudence in this country.”
            Barber sees as even a bigger accomplishment bring building the “Forward Together” movement, a coalition of other multi-cultural, multi-racial groups in concert with the NCNAACP, all in lock-step on a variety of common issues with which to leverage their large numbers during appropriate events. Dr. Barber calls that “historic.”
            And what, perhaps, was the civil right’s leader’s greatest letdown during his twelve years at the helm?
            “I hurt every day that we’ve not been able to get Medicaid expansion (for 500,000 more needy people) won here in North Carolina,” Dr. Barber lamented. “For every 500,000 people, 2800 die every year, according to a recent Harvard study. That means that  over 10,000 people (here in North Carolina will have died  because of Medicaid denial in this state. And I always wondered if we did it differently, could we have put more pressure on…anytime you have a cause, and you’re in that cause because you want to make things better, it hurts. I think about those folk every day.
            But all in all, as Dr. Barber prepares to make way for new NCNAACP leadership, he cherishes that opportunity to have led one of the most dynamic state conferences in the nation. Now a considered a nation leader, he will join the Pootr People’s campaign to speak out against poverty.
            “It’s been my privilege to lead the NCNAACP, and now that I’m being requested to take this on the road, and all around the country, …it’s been my privilege,” Bishop Barber said.


            [WILMINGTON]  The Fayetteville chemical company, accused of discharging Gen X into the Cape Fear River, possibly contaminating the New Hanover County water supply, is now being sued in federal court in what may turn out to be a class action lawsuit for “…the loss in value and marketability of properties owned by Plaintiff and Class Members, the cost of remediating the properties owned by Plaintiff and Class Members from the toxic chemicals released from the Fayetteville Works Site, the cost of mitigating the contaminated water, and/or the cost of alternative water sources.” Chemours, the company, and its parent corporation, Dupont, are named. The suit was filed by Brent Nix of Wilmington, and seeks both punitive and compensatory damages.

            [RALEIGH] With the NC General Assembly now in special session, citizens are wasting no time giving state lawmakers a piece of their minds. Both parents and students from across the state demonstrated in front of the Legislative Building Tuesday, demanding that lawmakers repeal their mandate that reduced class sizes from kindergarten through third grade. Many schools are now forced to eliminate programs, and build new schools as a result in order to comply. Siblings are being separated from the same school, and are being reassigned to other schools. Lawmakers say they’ve already fully-funded the changes, and are blaming the local school systems for not budgeting the changes wisely.

            [RALEIGH] Judges, attorneys and citizens from across the state have all pleaded with Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly) to slow down in his drive to have all North Carolina’s judicial districts redrawn. Burr claims Democrats hold an advantage with the current configuration, and that needs to be changed now, thus the special called session. Democrats indeed fear that this is just a scheme to elect more Republican judges to the bench from throughout the state. Judges say any changes  now will force their colleagues tp drive further distances to hold court, and ultimately would put a greater strain on the state’s criminal system.  




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