BISHOP DR. WILLIAM J. BARBER II
BISHOP BARBER TO MEET POPE FRANCIS
AT THE VATICAN ON THANKSGIVING DAY
In an exclusive interview, Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II, currently president of Repairers of the Breach, a nonpartisan, nonprofit social advocacy group, has confirmed that he and a delegation of “moral, workers rights, anti-poverty and ecological justice advocates…” will be meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thanksgiving Day.
Dr. Barber gave his permission Sunday for the news of his Vatican visit to be released now. He received the invitation from the Vatican last September, along with invitations to visit England and Africa to join other labor and workers’ rights advocates.
“[The Pope] wants to bless this movement, and meet with other activists from around the world who are fighting against poverty,” Barber said then, indicating that he would give his permission for it to be revealed in November.
Dr. Barber, who officially stepped down in October after 12 years as president of the NCNAACP, will be part of a two-day conference attended by social justice advocates from countries like Canada, Senegal, Italy, Ireland, Tunisia, Ghana, Brazil, and the United States, among others.
It’s no doubt that Dr. Barber’s involvement in the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor’s People’s Campaign caught the attention of not only national, but international social justice leadership, like Pope Francis, who is world reknowned for his personal and official advocacy for the poor.
Just last Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, celebrated a special mass for poor people on the first World Day of the Poor, eating with 1500 from Italy, Poland and France.
The pope also denounced those who express indifference to the plight of the poor, calling such behavior “ a great sin.”
"It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it," Pope Francis said. "God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good."
Dr. Barber’s organization, Repairers of the Breach, “…seeks to build a moral agenda rooted in the framework that uplift’s our deepest moral and constitutional values to redeem the heart and soul of our country,” it says on it’s website.
“Our deepest moral traditions point to equal protection under the law, the desire for peace within and among nations, the dignity of all people, and the responsibility to care for our common home.”
CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY ANITA
EARLS TO RUN FOR NC HIGH COURT
By Cash Michaels
The lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the Covington V. State of North Carolina has announced that she will run for the NC Supreme Court in 2018.
Anita Earls, founder and executive director of the Southern Coalition for Justice, told supporters and reporters gathered in front of State Democratic Party headquarters in Raleigh Nov. 15th that she, “…passionately believe in the importance of the right to vote, and that an independent judiciary is crucial to the balance of powers necessary to maintain democratic government of, by and for the people.”
Earls is already known as one of the most dynamic civil rights attorneys in North Carolina, if not the nation. She has consistently worked with the NCNAACP and other social justice groups, challenging the Republican-led NC legislature’s voter suppression laws, and unconstitutional voting districts, as later determined by the federal courts.
North Carolina’s civil rights community was one hundred percent behind Earls’ announcement.
“Anita Earls is a tremendous jurist, a profound litigator and deeply committed to the principles of justice for all,” said Bishop William Barber, former president of the NCNAACP. “She has been a champion for the full constitutional protection of women, minorities, blacks, the poor and entire human family.”
The current NCNAACP president, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, concurred.
I don't know of anyone more committed to bending the arc of the universe toward justice than Attorney Anita Earls.” Rev. Spearman said. “Whenever I have been in her presence to hear her offer legal opinions, insights or otherwise, the contributions of Attorney Earls have been like a plumline - ethically balanced and judiciously centered.
“Hers is a superior legal mind.”
One of the NAACP attorneys who has been in the trenches with Attorney Earls over the years has had a front row seat to witness her legal prowess, and deep commitment to justice.
“Without a doubt, Attorney Earls is a Constitutional Law scholar,” says NCCU Law Professor Irving Joyner, chair of the NCNAACP Legal Redress Committee. “She possesses the intellectual breadth of knowledge and the judicial demeanor necessary to ensure North Carolina citizens that she will be an impartial arbiter of the many rights and privileges which citizens entrust to our appellate courts to decide.”
“Her ascension to the Supreme Court will be a loss for the many citizens who encounter Civil Rights and Constitutional law issues, but her expertise is needed on our State's court,” Prof. Joyner added.
On the day of her announcement, attorney Earls had already garnered the endorsements State senators Angela Bryant and Floyd McKissick, Jr., Congressman and former Associate NC Supreme Court Justice G. K. Butterfield, Linda Wilkins-Daniels, chair of the African-American Caucus of the NC Democratic Party, and former NC Gov. Jim Hunt.
“…[T]he qualification I hope voters will most evaluate is whether I can fairly and faithfully apply the law equally to everyone whose case comes before the Court,” Earls said during her Nov. 15th press conference. “ I believe my record demonstrates that I have an unflinching dedication to the principle of equality before the law. I ask for your support in November 2018…”
Earls has served on the North Carolina Board of Elections, She’s taught at Duke University, UNC – Chapel Hill, and the University of Maryland.
If Earls were to win a seat on the state’s highest court, she could conceivably join incumbent associate justices Cheri Beasley and Mike Morgan, making for three African-Americans on the NC Supreme Court at one time.
The Republican-led state Senate is leaning towards changing the rules governing judicial elections in 2018, having Supreme Court justices serving only two-year terms, instead of the customary eight. That means everyone on the court now would have to run for re-election in 2018.
NCNAACP ANNOUNCES FEB. 10TH
FOR NEXT “BIGGEST” HK ON J MARCH
By Cash Michaels
Just over three months from now, the North Carolina NAACP, this time led by it’s new president, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, will hold it’s next Historic Thousands on Jones Street Moral March and People’s Assembly on Saturday, February 10th, 2018 in downtown Raleigh.
According to the civil rights organization, “HK on J,” as it’s more commonly known, is made up of a coalition of “…more than 125 North Carolina NAACP branches, youth councils and college chapters from across the state, and members of over 200 other social justice organizations.
In previous years, upwards of over 100,000 participants marched across downtown Raleigh to rally in front of the state Capitol on the Fayetteville Street Mall.
Next February, Rev Spearman the promised the largest turnout “…since our inception [12 years ago].”
Spearman added that the NCNAACP will go on a statewide tour of local NAACP branches over the next several weeks to promote the HK on J People’s Assembly, and mobilize participants.
Consequently, such a tour will also give Rev. Spearman the opportunity to introduce himself as the new state conference president.
“There is no better time to accelerate our resistance, than it is right now!” the NCNAACP leader told reporters, while surrounded by branch and conference members.
“It is time to resist, insist and persist,” Spearman continued, adding that a lot of time over the next couple of months will be confronting the “recent attacks [by the Republican-led NC General Assembly] on the independent judiciary, which more broadly speaking is another frontal attack on we, the people,” Rev. Spearman declared.
Spearman went on to charge that the attacks on the state’s judiciary have been going on since 2011, and, “…it actually puzzles me that a roguish government such as ours, be allowed to continue making unjust laws, issuing oppressive decrees,…and withholding justice from we, the people.”
“We must hold them in contempt,” Rev. Spearman continued, rhetorically asking if GOP lawmakers continue legislating against the will of the people, and succeed in co-opting the courts, citizens will have nowhere to turn for legal relief.
“We must rise up and resist,” the NCNAACP president demanded, reminding all that no less than the US Supreme Court declared that the 2011 redistricting maps instituted by the Republican-led legislature were unconstitutional, and yet were used at lest six times for legislative elections since.
“They have no business legislating on our behalf,” Spearman declared, to applause. He said the only way to stop them was to make sure that citizens got out on Election Day 2018 and vote.
SPECIAL REDISTRICTING MASTER
WAITING FOR REACTION TO MAPS
By Cash Michaels
The special master appointed by a federal three-judge panel several weeks ago to redraw redrawn legislative maps submitted by the Republican-led NC General Assembly in August, has finished a first draft of his maps, and is now asking both plaintiffs and defendants in the Covington v. State of North Carolina case to review them, and offer their observations or criticisms now, prior to the court’s Dec. 1st deadline for completion.
The federal court rejected the previous maps because it has “serious concerns” about at least nine voting districts were still legally problematic. The court appointed Stanford University Law Professor Nathaniel Persily to first review the redrawn maps, and if he concurred with the problems, redraw them to remove any racial gerrymandering or other unconstitutional features.
On Nov. 13th, Persily issued his preliminary maps for both House and Senate Districts.
According to Persily’s report accompanying the draft maps, “…the Court has ordered the Special Master to redraw Enacted 2017 State Senate Districts 21 and 28 and State House Districts 21 and 57 in order to remedy those districts’ violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It has also ordered redrawing of Enacted 2017 State House Districts 36, 37, 40, 41, and 105 because the General Assembly, in redrawing those districts in the 2017 Plan, may have violated the provision of the North Carolina State Constitution prohibiting redistricting more than once a decade.”
Of particular concern to African-Americans on the state Senate side was the manner in which the GOP has redrawn Senate District 28 in Guilford County, currently represented by state Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford).
In September, Sen. Robinson expressed frustration that her district was unnecessarily drawn as a majority-minority district.
“The courts specifically looked at my District 28 and commented on its composition. Republicans are intent on protecting Senator Trudy Wade (a white Republican from Guilford) for whom they created a district by packing 28. I expect that the only remedy will be in the courts.”
Per his proposed redrawing of Senate District 28, Special Master Persily writes, “…the Court struck down the 2011 version of Senate District 28 and continues to harbor constitutional concerns as to racial predominance with regard to the district’s 2017 configuration. As expressed in the Special Master’s draft plan, the newly configured district is a compact district -- almost a perfect circle… The newly drawn district is contained almost completely within the city (CDP) of Greensboro, and is made up of whole precincts.”
At press time, neither plaintiffs attorneys nor Sen. Robinson had a reaction to the Special Master’s redrawing of the district to relieve the “stacking and packing” of black voters there, so they wouldn’t influence electoral races in surrounding voting districts.
In order for Persily to meet his court mandated deadline of Dec. 1st, he has ordered both plaintiffs and defendants in the case, “…to submit to the Special Master proposed objections and revisions to the Special Master’s Draft Plan by November 17, 2017.
“In particular, the parties are encouraged to include in these submissions suggestions as to how incumbents shall be unpaired without degrading the underlying features of the plan, as specified in the Court order,” the Special Master’s Order continued. “The parties shall also then specify any disagreements they have as to which incumbents are seeking reelection in 2018. Reply briefs shall be submitted by November 21, 2017… In their replies, the parties are encouraged to identify which proposed changes of the plaintiffs and defendants, if any, are jointly supported by the parties.”