Tuesday, January 16, 2018



            [RALEIGH] Dr. Talbert O. Shaw, former president of Shaw University, died Tuesday morning, the historically black university announced. Dr. Shaw served the school for 15 years, and is credited with leading it out of dire financial straits that threatened to close its doors. Under Dr. Shaw, the institution also raised its endowment to $15 million, renovated campus buildings, and erected the Talbert O. Shaw Living Learning Center. Dr. Shaw stepped down in 2003.

            [GREENSBORO] A deputy commissioner for the North Carolina Industrial Commission has ordered a former NC highway trooper to pay over $1.2 million to the family of a woman whose vehicle was struck by the trooper’s patrol car in May 2010. Evidence shows that former Trooper J. D. Goodnight was traveling at 95 mph when his vehicle struck a car being driven by Sandra Allmond. There was also a 9-year-old boy who was also killed in the collision. Good night currently works for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Dept.

            [RALEIGH] North Carolina could become one of the first states in the nation that requires Medicaid beneficiaries to work, in exchange for getting free health insurance coverage from the state. The Trump Administration has signaled that it will waive legal restrictions to the federal law governing Medicaid that currently prohibit forcing recipients from working. Kentucky was the first state last week to receive a waiver. North Carolina is the only one of ten states on the list with a Democratic governor.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer"

At least one North Carolina congressperson joined a plethora of critics expressing utter outrage over confirmed reports that President Trump, in a meeting with Senate leaders last week, referred to Haiti and African countries as “sh-thole” nations while expressing disdain for the prospect of more immigrants from those nations coming to the United States.
Trump reportedly expressed a greater interest in seeing people from Norway, and overwhelmingly white country, immigrate to America.
       “I am personally offended and appalled by today's comments which are yet another example of President Trump's racist ideologies," said Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-12-NC) in a statement January 11th after reports of Trump’s vulgar remark hit the fan. "My concern now is solely with the millions of people and our allies who will be impacted by this administration's policies that are clearly driven by racism. These prejudiced beliefs are a betrayal of our American values and tantamount to an abdication of his basic responsibility to represent all Americans.”
        A spokesperson for Rep. Adams added that she would support a call for the censure of Pres. Trump by Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Rep. Jerold Nadler (D-NY), expected to be introduced now that Congress is back in session after the MLK holiday.
       “The President’s bigoted fearmongering is not acceptable and his remarks completely warrant total condemnation and censure from Congress. American immigration policy cannot and should not be guided in any way, shape or form by racism,” Richmond and Nadler said in a joint statement last week.
Neither of Rep. Adams’ two Democrat colleagues from North Carolina – Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-1-NC) or David Price (D-4-NC) issued statements weighing in on the controversy.
But here in North Carolina, criticism of the president’s acid remarks lingered at Martin Luther King, Jr. Day marches and events, even with state lawmakers on Monday.
        “The importance of the national celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday is more clear today than ever before,” said Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Nash), chair of the NC Legislative Black Caucus, said in a statement from the caucus. “This annual call to action and remembrance to oppose racism and discrimination in all its forms is needed to expose and root out the deep-seated beliefs in group domination, superiority and oppression that are still prevalent from the highest governmental levels to the personal level of our day to day interactions.”
That sentiment was shared by the new president of the NCNAACP, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman.
  “I really don't mean to be trite here but my mother, one of the most intelligent people I know, filled with mother-wit, would often use an economy of words to respond to such an inquiry that works quite well to sum up the derangement of the being who occupies the White House,” Rev. Spearman said. “My mother would say "…an empty wagon makes a lot of noise." In choosing my battles, I am careful not to feed into him. I'd rather ignore #45's ignorance.” 

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

Not allowing yet another redistricting defeat to stop them during a crucial midterm election year, NC Republican legislative leaders, through their attorneys, have asked the conservative-leaning US Supreme Court to not only stay last week’s devastating federal court ruling striking down their 2016 congressional voting maps as “invidious partisanship” and “illegal,” but have actually also asked the High Court to reinstitute those maps for the upcoming 2018 elections.
A federal three-judge panel blasted Republican lawmakers in their over 200-page opinion last week, saying that they deliberately set out to draw 10 of 13 NC congressional voting districts heavily Republican in 2016, thus denying voters in those districts their constitutional right to elect the representation of their choice. The court ordered that the districts be immediately redrawn by Wednesday, Jan. 24th.
“I applaud the decision of the federal judges,” said Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1). The decision reaffirms my long held belief that Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly drew the congressional map with the express purpose of maximizing the number of Republican congressional districts.  Republicans comprise 30 percent of registered voters in North Carolina, yet they crafted a congressional map that would ensure Republican success in ten of thirteen districts, or 76 percent.  The Republicans made this case relatively simple when they admitted in court that the congressional map was drawn for partisan political advantage.”
Butterfield continued, “As the Court stated, North Carolina voters have been deprived of a constitutional districting plan for the past decade.  So I urge the Republican dominated General Assembly to promptly comply with the Court’s order by developing a fair congressional map that doesn’t disadvantage Democratic voters.”
The federal court also warned that it would hire it’s own special master to draw the map if the GOP didn’t move immediately to fix the problem.
But in an emergency motion to the US Supreme Court Jan. 12th, attorneys for the Republican lawmakers petitioned that that ruling be thrown out by Monday, Jan. 22nd because the congressional maps can’t be adequately redrawn before the upcoming Feb. 12th candidates’ filing period for the 2018 midterm primaries without causing confusion.
The GOP lawmakers didn’t atop there. They also argued that the North Carolina ruling should be stayed until two other partisan redistricting cases being considered before the US Supreme Court, this time in Wisconsin and Maryland, be decided.
Last week’s federal court decision dealt with congressional redistricting, not the similar NC legislative redistricting case that another federal three-judge panel is expected to rule on any day now. That case involved racial gerrymandering, which is also unconstitutional.
Meanwhile the NC NAACP and its coalition partners, led by NCNAACP Pres. Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, demonstrated in front of the legislative building in Raleigh on Jan. 10th to protest the special session called to consider judicial redistricting, which many critics say is based on the same racial gerrymandering criteria the legislative maps were thrown out for, and is targeting many black district court judges for elimination by having them run against each other.
“Our courts should be as free as we can make them from partisan politics,” former NC Associate Supreme Court Justice Patricia Simmons-Goodson told hundreds of cheering protesters, some holding signs saying, “Fair Courts Now,’ and “No Voter Left Behind.”

Monday, January 8, 2018


by Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            Armed crowd met, Nov. 10, 1898, at armory here, marched 6 blocks S.E., and burned office of Daily Record, black-owned newspaper edited by Alex Manley. Violence left up to 60 blacks dead. Led to overthrow of city government and the installation of coup leader Alfred Moore Waddell as mayor. “Race riot” was part of a statewide political campaign based on calls for white supremacy & exploitation of racial tensions.
                                                            Current inscription for planned 1898
                                                            Historical Marker to be unveiled in the fall

The NC Historical highway marker commemorating the 1898 Wilmington race massacre has already been approved by the NC Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee, but when it is finally unveiled on Market Street between Fourth and Fifth streets later this fall, expect changes to the marker’s controversial inscription describing the bloody events that started on Nov. 10, 1898.
The primary change will be to the sentence, “ Violence left up to 60 blacks dead,” which several in the community, including the NHC NAACP, have indicated is incorrect because a six-year inquiry into the massacre by the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission noted that the number of known dead was “unknown.”
The new inscription will indicate that number of African-Americans killed during the massacre was undetermined
            In an exclusive interview this week with The Wilmington Journal, Michael Hill, Research Supervisor at the NC Office of Archives and History, a division of the NC Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources, confirmed that staff at the NC Highway Historical Program met last Friday, and determined that some the proposed language of the planned 1898 marker needed to be changed before it is unveiled.
            “We wish to seek input from the local community. We’ve received several emails, including from the local NAACP, and probably about a half dozen others,” Mr. Hill told The Journal.
            Hill went on to say that the agency has “set aside plans to order the sign,” and plan at the next marker committee meeting in May to revisit the 1898 marker language issue. “The point of the reassessment is to revisit the text, and to accommodate people’s wishes and suggestions.”
            Mr. Hill added that Ansley Wegner, the administrator of the NC Highway Historical Marker Program, has been working on redrafts of the 1898 marker inscription.
            As indicated before, per the inscription, the number of blacks killed will be changed to “unknown,” in addition to the term “race riot” deleted. The name of the 1898 massacre leader, Alfred Moore Waddell will also be dropped, and the name of Alex Manley, the publisher of the black newspaper that was burned to the ground, The Daily Record, will also be dropped, though the Record will continue to be cited by name on the marker.
            There already is a historical marker citing Manley by name on Seventh Street where the Daily Record was torched by an angry mob of white supremacists on Nov. 10, 1898. The new marker on Market Street will denote the spot from where that mob gathered at the armory, and then proceeded to Seventh Street to burn down the Record.
            “The next stage will be to share the new drafts with all interested local parties,” Hill continued, including Rend Smith of the nonprofit group, Working Narratives, which made the original application for the 1898 marker, and Deborah Dicks Maxwell, president of the NHC NAACP.
            The New Hanover African-American Heritage commission will also be included.
            Smith, as the applicant, will then have the right of first appeal to the marker advisory committee when they meet in May.
            Members of the New Hanover County House delegation to the NC legislature seem to be in agreement about making sure that the 1898 marker inscription is historically accurate.
            “The marker is long overdue and I hope that it will serve to inform the public of the horrific events of 1898 so that our community in time can heal,” Representative Deb Butler [D-New Hanover] told The Journal. “To that end, and in order to prevent any further revisionist views of history, it must be as accurate as possible.”
            Her Republican colleague in the state House from New Hanover County, Rep. Holly Grange, agreed.
“Not only do I support a historical marker commemorating such a notable event in the History of Wilmington, I believe it also important that the marker be historically and factually accurate.  Therefore I agree with the report by the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission and [the public’s] request to modify the historical marker.”
Editor’s note – Those wishing to write the NC Highway Historical Marker Program to express your concerns about the proposed inscription on the 1898 race massacre marker, should address your correspondence to : 4610 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4610, attention Ansley Wegner, administrator., or email Ms. Wegner at ansley.wegner@ncdcr.gov.


[GREENSBORO] A federal three-judge panel for North Carolina’s Middle District  struck down North Carolina’s 2016 congressional plan Tuesday as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.  That 2016 plan was developed after a federal court invalidated two congressional districts as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.  When the legislature purported to “remedy” that racially gerrymandered plan with an unabashed and admitted partisan gerrymander, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and several voters from across the state filed suit.
Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, offered the following statement after the opinion was released:
“A bipartisan three-judge federal panel agreed with us today that partisan gerrymandering is an affront to our Equal Protection Clause.  They recognized the egregious nature of what the North Carolina General Assembly did in 2016, purportedly to remedy another unconstitutional congressional redistricting plan.”  
“We’re enormously gratified on behalf of our clients and all voters in North Carolina that no one will have to endure another congressional election under an unconstitutional map.  The court was clear in demanding a real remedy before the 2018 elections, and we expect the General Assembly to respect that order.”
Per the ruling, the North Carolina General Assembly has until January 29 to enact a remedial plan; the federal court plans to employ a special master to draw an alternative remedial plan, and the remedial plan should be enacted before the 2018 congressional elections.



By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            If political body language means anything, Republican legislative leaders in the NC General Assembly, and their attorneys in the Covington vs. North Carolina redistricting case, seem almost resolved that the federal three-judge panel hearing the case is going to rule against them sometime soon, and implement the special master’s redrawn voting maps in place of their own.
            That much seemed clear during the Jan. 5th hearing in Federal Court in Greensboro last Friday, as attorneys for the state did their best attacking Special Master Nathaniel Persily’s work, which effectively removed the illegal racial gerrymanders evident in the GOP’s 2011 voting maps, and their 2017 redrawn districts that the three-judge panel found 29 to be legally problematic as well.
            At stake is the 2018 NC legislative mid-term elections coming up in November. With Democrats energized to retake the state legislature from the Republican majority, many political observers expect Republican attorneys to appeal an expected negative ruling to the US Supreme Court, thereby delaying the scheduled Feb. 12 through 28th candidate filing dates for the May primaries, and possibly throwing off the entire election year schedule until they can get a favorable ruling that will help them retain legislative power.
            Led by Republican attorney Phil Strach, the Republican argument was the special master redrew certain districts with race in mind, contrary to what they believe the judicial panel originally wanted.
            "The way you remedy the use of a quota is you take the quota out," attorney Strach told the court.
Strach added that Persily was never needed because GOP lawmakers were fully capable of redrawing their own maps, and should have been given the opportunity to do so by the federal court.
            Strach even called their own expert witness, who submitted his own maps, to the stand to testify that Persily used black voting age percentages in the districts he redraw. The special master denied the charge.
            Persily, a Stanford University law professor and considered an expert in redistricting mapping, defended his work saying that his job was to follow the directives of the three-judge panel to correct nine NC House and Senate districts, making sure that there was no racial stacking and packing, which the Republicans had previously employed in order to lessen black Democratic voter influence throughout the state.
            Federal Appellate Court Judge James Wynn chastised Strach and the Republican attorneys, alleging that instead to working to undermine Persily’s work, they could have had their expert work with him to produce maps both sides could live with.
            Attorneys for Sharon Covington and her co-plaintiffs suing the state, gave a rhetorical thumbs up to Persily’s work, and urged the court to adopt his redrawn maps.
            I think they’ve been pretty honest that they intend to seek appellate review,” plaintiff’s attorney Allison Riggs told reporters after the four-hour hearing. “So we’ll be prepared.” 


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On Wednesday, supporters of the NCNAACP came from all across the state to rally at the NC General Assembly to protest why they believe the state legislature is back in session weeks before they’re officially scheduled to come back.
            “The independent judiciary is under attack in North Carolina,” says Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the NCNAACP,”…and the people understand that this attack…is a threat to our democracy.”
            Thus, the reason for “Fair Courts Day of Action.”
            A coalition of social justice groups, led by the NCNAACP, Democracy North Carolina and Progress NC, reacting to bills either passed or introduced by the Republican-led legislature in 2017 that gerrymanders the state’s judicial districts targeting black judges by packing them so they would compete against each other (passed), or would cut judicial terms from the state Supreme Court to Superior Court from eight years and four years, down to just two years (proposed), or even institute a merit selection system where state lawmakers appoint the judges they want to the bench (also proposed).
            No other state in the nation has such a system in place.
            “It targets black judges and women judges and black voters, which is really racist,” Linda Sutton, organizer for  Democracy N.C.  told the Times-News. “[The Republicans] plan to take over the courts to appoint their own judges … so when we challenge them, we won’t have anywhere else to go.”
Indeed, one of the key legislative measures passed last year was in the state House, canceling the 2018 primaries for judicial candidates. Earlier last year, the GOP majority also passed HB 239, which reduced the number of judges on the state Court of Appeals from 15 to 12, in an effort to deny Democratic Gov. Cooper the ability to fill the three court vacancies that would occur during his term.
            That plan was partially thwarted when Appellate Court Judge Douglas McCullough retired early, allowing Cooper to appoint his replacement before the bill could be enacted.
            So exactly what are both the state House and Senate planning in terms of revamping the state’s judiciary – the one branch of government that in recent years, has successfully countered much of the Republican social agenda for North Carolina?
            Last week, during a special Senate committee appointed by Senate Pres. Pro-tem Phil Berger (Rockingham), four possible plans were revealed to be under consideration -
1.     The Blue Plan – where judicial elections for appellate judges are suspended; the governor nominates candidates; both state houses confirm the nominations within 60 days; and a general election is held for voters to either accept of reject the legislative confirmation.
2.      The Orange Plan – a 15-member Judicial Nominating Commission picks two candidates. The governor appoints one of the two, with that judicial appointee serving a 14-year term, and is eligible for re-nomination by the Commission.
3.      The Red Plan – The General Assembly appoints a candidate when a judicial vacancy occurs. That judicial appointee serves for life or until the age of 72.
4.      The Purple Plan – a non-partisan independent Merit Selection Commission appointed by the state Supreme Court Chief Justice. That 7 or 9 member panel will forward all nominations to the NC General Assembly for further consideration. Local commissions will do the same for superior court and district court nominees. Upon review, state lawmakers forward the three best nominees to the governor, who then appoints. Voters vote to confirm or reject
the governor’s choice, which is confirmed would serve  ten-year term. That appointee is not eligible to be re-appointed to the same court.

          What plan the NC General assembly ultimately chooses will become evident during the Special Session.