Monday, February 26, 2018


                                                       PASTOR DIERDRE PARKER

By Cash Michaels
Staff writer

            [WILMINGTON] A Wilmington pastor has expressed concern about security at her church in the aftermath of receiving a racist letter that referred to impoverished African-American communities as “Nigger town…”
Rev. Dierdre Parker, pastor of Speaks Temple AME Zion Church at 1120 Dawson Street in Wilmington, posted half of the crude, and vile letter that was mailed to her church on her Facebook page Sunday.
            “There is a part of me that wonders if I should get security at the church?” Pastor Parker posted. “Will I need to keep my eyes on the door while I’m preaching? But who would walk into a church and hurt someone, right?”
            “That’s what we all thought until 9 people were murdered in Charleston. So what do we do now? All I know is that I will continue to trust God, and I will continue to do what I’ve been called to do. Nobody said it would be easy.”
The letter is addressed to “MINISTER, Head Pastor” with Speaks Temple AMEZ’s address, and was postmarked  “Charlotte, NC 282” on “14FEB 2018 PM 4 L.”  It reads:

            Go to any city in the United States of America, any city. Go to the area of the city where you see drug dealers standing on the street corner, whores walking the street, metal bars or metal grating over the shop windows, run down houses with dirt yards, seedy buildings with windows shattered or broken out, creepy people (lazy bums) sitting on porches (porch monkeys), beat up cars and trucks, fat ass women, big lipped ape men, blue gummed people wandering around, a stench in the air, illegitimate kids everywhere, etc…
            Then the letter rhetorically asks in bold letters, “WHERE ARE YOU? Answer: Nigger town, of course.”
That was the first, and only part of the racist letter that Parker made public Sunday.
            Monday evening, during an exclusive interview, Pastor Parker revealed that she didn’t post the second half of the letter because it was even worse:
Niggers do not give a s—t about anything.
            They’re lazy. They stink. They’re uneducated. They riot. They loot. They will steal you blind. They will not work for a living. They are the parasites of the land.           
            Niggers suck off the white man. Niggers have always sucked off the white man.
            Niggers do nothing to contribute to the society in which we live.
Nothing…nothing at all.
            How do you starve a nigger? Hide his food stamps under a pair of work boots.
The letter is not signed, and there was no return address.
The Wilmington Police Dept. did interview Pastor Parker about the letter Monday evening, and took it with them. They are expected to increase patrols in the area of Speaks Temple, but explained that’s the best they can do without knowing who sent it.
The state Attorney General’s Office also contacted Pastor Parker about the letter.
Deborah Dicks Maxwell, president of the New Hanover County NAACP, was outraged.
             “This is unacceptable at anytime, but especially in 2018,” Ms. Maxwell said in a statement. “We sincerely hope this is the only correspondence that was sent, but it was one too many.”
Many on social media – black and white - have also expressed shock and outrage at the letter, wondering if other black churches across the state will get similar missives in the mail.
Pastor Parker has communicated with other clergy in Wilmington, including her pastor, Rev. Dr. Cliff Barnett of Warner Temple AME Zion Church, to whom she also gave a copy of the letter.
“I think more churches, or black businesses might get it ,”Pastor Parker said. “I just think they started with us.”

                                                           CONRAD JAMES

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On Sept. 20, 2016, an African-American Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year black man. Officers say Scott brandished a handgun getting out of a parked vehicle, but refused to drop it when ordered.
            The fatal shooting sparked two nights of violent demonstrations as thousands of people, predominately black, took to the streets of the Queen City in protest.
            But according to a young social activist named Conrad James, he was asked to come to Charlotte and hold an angry rally protesting the shooting. The riots and the heated controversy in the police aftermath, it turns out, was tailor-made for a Russian-backed conspiracy to suppress the black vote in North Carolina in the 2016 presidential elections.
            Thanks to the recently released indictments by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 elections to help Republican candidate Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, it is now known that Russian operatives, in an effort to sour black voters on the Clinton campaign, sponsored “Down with Hillary” rallies, and would invite unwitting American activists to take part.
            But while that was true in other parts of the nation, according to Conrad James in an exclusive interview right after the Mueller indictments were revealed, that was not the case in Charlotte, and in Greensboro. Instead of “Down with Hillary,” anger at the police per the Keith Lamont fatal shooting was the vehicle used to encourage specifically young black perspective voters to express their general anger and frustration with “the system” and “police brutality,” by not voting at all.
            The logical calculation, according to James, who was asked by an allegedly Russian-backed group called “BlackMattersUSA” to come to Charlotte and lead an angry rally designed to further stirrup community tensions, was that because Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, depended on the black vote, and young people, to win the presidency, her electoral effort in North Carolina would almost exclusively suffer.
            James, 25, says he was a member of a multi-racial demonstration group called “Living Ultra-violet,” best known in July 2016 for taking to the streets in Raleigh and peacefully protesting the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La. and Philando Castile in Minnesota, as well as the murders of five police officers in Dallas, Texas.
            James was interviewed by Raleigh TV station WTVD during that demonstration, where he stated that his group “…rallies around the Black Lives Matters movement to uplift [people of color]”. James also noted that the group had no hatred towards law enforcement or white people.
            James says a woman saw him on television, and contacted him three days later about coming to Charlotte and speaking at a protest rally there. Because he didn’t know much about “Black MattersUSA,” but was impressed with their apolitical factual rhetoric and online following, However, they had no framework for the rally.
James countered that he’d come, but only if he could coordinate the rally himself (James saw it as a golden opportunity to promote is own nonprofit group). The woman agreed.
            But when the young Raleigh activist arrived in Charlotte in October 2016, based on who he met (two “black kids with a white dude behind them…who didn’t say anything”), and what he heard and saw, it was clear that BlackMattersUSA had an agenda far different from his own. James was committed to peace and constructive engagement, but what he was seeing were attempts “…to add fuel to the fire,” designed to increase anti-police tensions, frustrations and distrust, and ultimately cause those attending the rally to socially and civically disengage.
            James told ABC News recently that people with “BlackMattersUSA” “…were definitely trying to stir up trouble.”
            In Oct. 2017, a Russian investigative journalist named “Andre,” tracking Russian connections, contacted James through Facebook, and informed him of the group’s Russian ties and funding.
            “He completely blew my mind,” James recalls.
James was eventually asked to testify before a Congressional committee, but declined. If subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, James says he would have no choice but to testify, but wouldn’t be happy about it. Based on what he saw and heard, there’s little doubt in his mind now that what he witnessed was a Russian attempt during the 2016 campaign at black voter suppression.
            Conrad James says given his experience, he looks over his shoulder now, not knowing whether friend or foe is lurking near. And yes, he does believe that the Trump campaign was well aware that the Russians were doing something to help the businessman get elected.
            And as for Hillary Clinton, she lost North Carolina – a state that Barack Obama won in 2008 by just 14,000 votes– by 177,000 to Trump.
            According to NPR, the black vote for Clinton was six points less for her than Pres. Obama’s black support in 2012. If it had been the same, she would have won the state by 191,000 votes, and secured North Carolina’s 15 electoral college votes.


            [RALEIGH] According to conservative columnist John Hood, North Carolina Republican leaders are “…feeling cautiously optimistic about the 2018 midterms,” despite the constant drumbeat of negative press about the Trump Administration in Washington, and the low approval ratings the GOP-led NC legislature is currently getting in public polling. Hood points to three factors for optimism – “Money, maps and momentum.”  First, the Republicans have a fundraising edge over Democrats going into the fall, in addition to outside groups also spending money to keep Republicans in power. In terms of maps, two negative decisions against the Republicans regarding their unconstitutional redistricting maps are currently tied up in the courts, and are not likely to be resolved anytime soon given the appeals process.
            And finally, thank rising poll numbers for the Trump tax reform law that polls show is becoming more and more popular, as some Americans are seeing slightly bigger paychecks. Add to that an improved economy, and Republicans feel that they can hold on to their supermajority this fall.
            Democrats, on the other hand, are counting on mounting dissatisfaction with the Trump Administration, and NC Republican policies, like eliminating judicial elections.

            [RALEIGH] Kim Strach, state director of the NC Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, has asked state lawmakers, in a letter,  to strengthen various current election laws in order to provide more ballot security to North Carolina’s voting process. "Much has transpired since the Department of Homeland Security designated the elections sector as critical infrastructure in January 2017," Strach wrote. "We, along with the nation, have gained a disturbing but more accurate understanding of the threats confronting systems that administer elections." Strach is recommending that no voting system be connected to any wired or wireless networks; only certified electronic voter check-in systems be used; a secure electronic transmission system be created for receiving absentee and overseas military ballots ;  make it a misdemeanor for anyone no a county elections employee to copy voter records; Allow criminal background checks for all full-time or temporary elections workers.



Monday, February 19, 2018


                                                          STATE REP. H.M. "MICKEY" MICHAUX, JR.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

After 39 ½ years in the NC legislature, Durham Rep. H. M. “Mickey” Michaux Jr. announced recently that he would not be running for re-election.
Given that Michaux, 87, has won 20 straight elections, his announcement gave some of the state’s top leaders pause.
“For decades, Mickey Michaux has fought for justice in North Carolina, and is a legend in the fight for civil rights, said Gov. Roy Cooper. “Your presence will be missed in the NC General Assembly.”
Even a former Democratic governor, Beverly Perdue, had to take to Facebook to say “Goodbye” to the legendary black lawmaker.
"Job well done, my friend, she wrote, after noting that Michaux’s “handprints” were all over “North Carolina public policy decisions that are in the best interests of all of the people…” “Thank you for your life of service.”
Indeed, Michaux’s razor sharp physical profile, snapping dressing, and witty, yet knowledge pronouncements, have served him well during his long legislative tenure.
“Remember Lincoln’s opening line in the Gettysburg Address, “Four score and seven years ago? That’s me,” he says slyly, adding that he never thought he’d live this long, or doing what he’s been doing.
There can be no question that Rep. Michaux is one of the most knowlegable state lawmakers of any stripe. So when younger legislators like Rep. Ed Hanes of Winston Salem, or Rep. Amos Quick and Cecil Brockman of Greensboro, think about how Michaux helped to mentor them upon their first years serving, it reinforces the notion that Michaux is very much a father figure to younger black lawmakers.
‘He took an interest in me, and shared his vision,” Rep. Hanes recalls. ‘I’m forever grateful for that.”
“The NC House will have a void with his absence,” mused Rep. Quick. “But his work will speak for him throughout history.”
The Durham native remembers remembers his father taking him to one of the first meetings of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People in 1935. Years later, as a young teenager, Michaux recalls seeing two water fountains in downtown Durham – one for whites, the other for blacks. He also can’t forget being chased out of a “duckpin” alley by some “white folks” looking to beat him up near the Carolina Theater.
It’s history Mickey Michaux refuses to forget, because he sees the legislative clock being turned back the Republican majority, and fears that along with their apparent thirst for power, will be a rachetting up of racial tensions, which will ultimately hurt North Carolina.
Michaux says that over his nearly forty years in the state House, his name appears on important laws such as the automatic restoration of citizenship rights for the formerly incarcerated; voting rights and same-day registration; and assistance of HBCUs.
Thankfully, he says, recent court cases have restored many of the voting rights laws the Republicans got rid of. But the onus will be on young leaders coming up, to learn their history, so that they won’t repeat the mistakes of the past.
Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.  once told Michaux that “we can’t make people love us, but at least we can make them respect us. And that’s why we have to keep strong people out in the forefront to make sure that that happens.” It’s a lesson Michaux took with after the assassination of his close friend almost fifty years ago, when he almost dropped out of politics. 
But when the people called, Mickey Michaux answered, running for the seat he’s held onto for four decades. He says he’s learned a lot, especially from his short tenure as US attorney, and two congressional campaigns.
When he finally steps down from the legislature, Michaux says, after a long rest, he wants to be around “…so that young people don’t forget the legacy that they have inherited. They are enjoying the fruits of people’s labor in the past….fruits some died for.” He doesn’t want to see those fruits lost.
“We’re about to repeat history that we don’t want to repeat,” Rep. Michaux cautioned.

                                                                      ACTIVIST CONRAD JAMES

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

There is no question, based on recent federal court decisions, that Republican state lawmakers, through illegal racial gerrymandering, and unconstitutional voter restriction, have attempted to suppress the African-American vote in recent high profile elections.
But thanks to major federal indictments handed down by Special Counsel Robert Mueller per his investigation into alleged Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election to ensure the election of Donald Trump, we now know Russian operatives in this country worked diligently to suppress the black vote that was expected to go to Democrat Hillary Clinton, so that her Republican opponent, Trump could win.
And there is evidence that some of those black voter suppression efforts took place right here in North Carolina – all to cripple Clinton’s campaign to maximize the black vote.
The indictments against 13 Russian operatives detail efforts to use everything from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to “create thematic group pages” which included the Black Lives Matter movement “with group names including Blacktivist.”
From page 18 of the 37-page federal indictment, “In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their organization-controlled personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate (who was Jill Stein).”
The indictment continued, “on or about October 16, 2016,  Defendants and their co-conspirators use the organization-controlled Instagram account “Woke Blacks” to post the following message, “[A] particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote for Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”
The indictment then went to detail that on Nov. 3, 2016 an ad was taken out to promote a post on the Instagram account “Blackitivist” that read in part, “Choose peace and vote for Jill stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.”
To pay for political ads, the defendants established various Russian bank accounts  and credit cards, and also pay for political ads with Paypal accounts. Some of those ads would say, “ You know a great number of black people support us saying that #HillaryClintonIsNotmyPresident” and  “Hillary Clinton doesn’t deserve the black vote.” 
And, again according to the Mueller indictments, Russian conspirators sponsored “Down with Hillary” rallies, and would invite unwitting American activists to take part.
One of those activists was Conrad James of Raleigh. According published reports, James was approached in September 2016 by a woman claiming to represent a group known as  “BlackMattersUSA, asking him to speak at a rally in Charlotte. James is quote in the report that the group, “…were definitely trying to stir up trouble.
Mr. James was contacted for this report by email Monday evening, and asked, “…do you feel that you saw evidence of Russian involvement in the 2016 election here in North Carolina?”
Conrad James' reply was, “Yes, definitely, as far as voter suppression.”

By Cash Michaels
staff writer

            According to the Onslow County Public School System, the principal of Richlands High School, Brad Staley, has conducted “…a thorough investigation” into allegations of the racial slur “nigger” being found Feb. 12th, painted in the visitors’ locker room prior to a boys basketball game between The Richlands High Wildcats and the Pender High School team.
Once the Richlands principal became aware of the racial allegations and lack of good sportsmanship, he and district staff began a thorough investigation immediately,” said Suzie Ulbrich, Public Affairs Officer for the school system. “The Richlands principal reached out to the Pender High School principal to discuss the matter, and assure him it would be handled appropriately.  In our effort to keep our parents informed, a call went out to families, so they would be aware of the situation and have accurate information.”
Ulbrich continued, “The [Richlands] principal took appropriate disciplinary action against students involved, in accordance with school Student Code of Conduct policy.
School administrators met with students to let them know they would not tolerate any statements, actions, or behaviors that violate our policies on harassment or discrimination and encouraged them to come forward with any information they may have on the locker room incident.”
            “The principal met with coaches and assistant coaches, both on staff and volunteers, to discuss several topics including sportsmanship; recent racial allegations and consequences for this behavior; fighting on the field of play; player ejections; and the creation of specific procedures for unsportsmanlike behavior.”
            “Next…” Ms. Ulbrich continued, “…[Principal Staley] met with all student-athletes to go over the same items discussed with coaches, and announce that moving forward, every student-athlete and coach on the campus will complete two courses prior to athletic competition, beginning with spring sports.  To do that there will be after school sessions ahead of sports seasons where the athletes will complete the courses and turn in certificates of completion to be eligible to compete.  The two courses are Bullying, Hazing and Inappropriate Behaviors and NFHS Sportsmanship.  Student athletes will also be required to sign a sportsmanship contract.”
“Following an inquiry to the district athletic director…” Ulbrich concluded, “… NC High School Athletic Association Commissioner Que Tucker indicated in a letter she was satisfied with the initial steps taken to address the issues and was very satisfied with plans being made by Onslow County for the future in their athletic programs.”
When news of the alleged racial slur incident – one of at least three in the school system this school year - broke, Rev. Dante Murphy, president of the Pender County NAACP, was not pleased with what he saw as a lack of transparency on the part of Richlands High, or the Onslow County school system administration.
But now, given the latest developments, Murphy is pleased that action has finally been taken.
“The Pender County NAACP wishes to express gratitude to the Pender County staff for bringing this issue to the public’s attention and the work Onslow County Schools are now doing to rectify this situation,” Rev. Murphy said in a statement Tuesday night.
“There are strong indications that the initial response by Onslow County Schools presented a failure to adequately respond to a pattern of race related incidents and we hope that all involved staff have been properly reprimanded.  We also anticipate the assurance from both school systems that staff employees, current and future, who disclose unlawful or immoral activity, will suffer no retaliation in any form.”


Monday, February 12, 2018



#    1 - REV. DR. T. ANTHONY SPEARMAN, PRES., NCNAACP (Photo courtesy of Phil Fonville)


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

With the theme, ‘Taking Resistance to the Ballot Box,” the 12th Annual Moral March/Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly in Raleigh Feb. 10th attracted thousands of demonstrators from across the state despite heavy rains. With protest signs castigating everything from the Trump Administration, to North Carolina’s legislative Republican leadership, the extraordinarily diverse crowd of young, old, black, white, Hispanic, straight, gay and others, marched through downtown Raleigh from Shaw University to just outside the state Capital.
There they heard from a plethora of speakers, representing the unique coalitions involved, all imploring those gathered to make sure their voices, and votes, are heard come November for the midterm election.
Bishop Dr. William Barber, the former president of the NCNAACP, spoke to those gathered by phone, urging them to indeed turn out the vote, regardless of whatever barriers or restrictions are thrown at them.
But the highlight of the event were the pointed remarks of the NCNAACP’s new president, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, who used biblical analogies to illustrate the need for justice, and invoked inspiration from civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to crystallize the societal evils that the NCNAACP leader said must be confronted.
“Moral Resistance is the means we use to dismantle the engines of destruction that drive us away from the mainlands of democracy while steering us toward the mountains of fascism,” Rev. Spearman offered in a prepared speech.
Spearman said the three “…engines of destruction…” were “R.I.P.” – “racism, impoverishment and persecution.”
“The antidote to racism is representation,”  he continued. “Each human on this earth represents a spark of divinity. Representation begins with recognizing that every person has an equal spark of God within them. Representation is the reconstruction we seek when we resist racism at the ballot box.”
Addressing impoverishment, Dr. Spearman said the antidote was “investment.”
“Investment in our justice system is not only ensuring access to counsel and reconstructing our bail system so that it is not a poor tax. Investment in our justice system means reconstructing the administrative process so that someone who needs a protective order from an abusive ex-spouse doesn’t have to take two days off work to sit in the back of a courtroom waiting to be heard for ten minutes.”
“Investment is the reconstruction we seek when we resist impoverishment at the ballot box.”
Lastly, Dr. Spearman warned about militarism, which he called “persecution.’
“The antidote to persecution is peace, he said. “Our people are gunned down in the streets in numbers that exceed the numbers who were lynched and are imprisoned in numbers that exceed the numbers who were enslaved.”
“Peace is the reconstruction we seek when we resist persecution at the ballot box.”
Rev. Spearman called on NAACP members and coalition partners to “…take your resistance to the ballot box…” per the 2018 midterm elections, and ultimately the 2020 presidential election.
“In the buildings which line Jones street, the men who cloak themselves with smiling faces by day and in white sheets by night have returned, and they are lynching our democracy,” he charged, adding, “This unconstitutional General Assembly on Jones Street is what the KKK looks like in the 21st Century.”
“Let’s take our resistance,” Dr. Spearman concluded, “…to the ballot box.”

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

From now until noon, Feb. 28th, candidates for all state offices, except judgeships, will be filing for the 2018 May 8th midterm primaries. Filing began Monday without a hitch, though at the end of last week, observers were concerned that another unexpected court order could possibly delay the process.
Indeed, on Friday, Feb. 9th, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an  order that candidates for the NC Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals could not file for the May 8 judicial primaries, because they will not be held. Instead, those candidates will file during a special judicial filing period June 18-29.
That order stayed an original ruling by federal judge who ordered primaries for state Supreme and appellate court candidates, but not for district and superior court candidates. 
The Republican-led NC legislature last year passed a law eliminating the 2018 judicial primaries for all judicial candidates because of judicial redistricting, but Democrats successfully challenged that law. The federal judge reinstated the judicial primaries for the state judicial races, but not for district and superior court races. Now, that’s to the fourth Circuit appellate court, there will be no May judicial primaries, and the special June filing period will go forward, unless a court stops that as well.
The legal back-and-forth have state Republican legislative leaders seeing red. 
Thus far a three-judge federal panel has had Republican 2011 legislative redistricting maps redrawn twice, finally ruling that the maps drawn by a court-ordered special master be used for the 2018 elections. Republicans successfully petitioned the US Supreme Court, in part, to stay that order for Wake and Mecklenburg counties alone, pending review. 
Republicans also were successful in getting an order by another three-judge panel striking down their 2016 partisan congressional maps, stayed by the US high court.  That stay is pending review of two other partisan gerrymandering cases the US Supreme Court is considering elsewhere in the nation.
And just this week, a three-judge state panel refused to take up the issue of Wake and Mecklenburg counties being blocked by the US Supreme Court in the legislative redistricting case involving the special master. The judicial panel cited, “…significant practical difficulties, if not jurisdictional impediments, exist when one court is called upon to construe and enforce another court’s order that was made upon a distinct and separate record by distinct and separate plaintiffs.”
Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), co-chair of the Joint Redistricting Committee, held an angry press conference last Friday, demanding that Democrats drop their court cases, and simply allow Republicans, who are in the legislative majority, to carry out the will of their supporters.
“These Democratic groups lose in state court, they run to federal court. When they lose in federal court, they run back to state court. It is judge shopping, pure and simple,” a livid Rep. Lewis told reporters. “They are trying to ignore a Supreme Court decision that came out less 24 hours ago!
“They want to confuse voters, cause chaos in election administration,” Lewis continued,”… and bully the General Assembly into surrendering to their political aims.”


            [RALEIGH] If you ant proof that this is an exceptional hard flu season in North Carolina, look no further than the Wake County Public School System. On Monday, 1,283 teachers, or 11% percent of the entire teacher force for the system, called in sick because of the flu. The closest to that number was 792 back on October 2, 2017. Like other school systems across the state, Wake depends heavily on substitute teachers to fill in during this time of the year when teacher absences are expected.

            [RALEIGH] Bowing to some concerns that several public school districts across the state are too large, legislative Republicans say they want to study the situation in hopes of eventually breaking some school systems up into smaller districts. A newly-formed legislative study committee is scheduled to report back on May 1st. Republicans House members Bill Brawley and John Bradford of Mecklenburg County, and Chris Malone of Wake county, are the primary sponsors of the bill. Opponents say breaking up the school districts is just another way of reinstituting racial segregation. Both Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg school districts are the largest in the state.

            [RALEIGH] State lawmakers have now ended their Special Session and gone home until the short session scheduled in May. But before they left, they pasted a controversial bill, HB 90,  lowering class sizes, which many parents demanded. However, attached to the bill are things that Gov. Cooper doesn’t like, like legislative control of a $58 million mitigation fund for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which the governor is supposed to control. And yet another section of the bill, once again, merges the state Board of Elections with the Ethic Enforcement Board, adding one member to the eight-member board. Gov. Cooper favors the class size portion, but ha signaled he’s not please with the rest of HB90. So the question remains, will he sign it into law?


Monday, February 5, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

Monday, Feb. 12th, is the beginning of the filing period for candidates for public office in North Carolina. Technically, that’s when Democrats and Republicans, hoping to compete in their respective party primaries for a chance to be ultimately selected to run in the fall 2018 midterm elections, commit themselves for either statewide or congressional office.
            But thanks to an unceasing plethora of  court cases involving legislative, congressional and judicial redistricting, confusion has been the buzzword as to whether even the filing period would be allowed to commence.
            At press time Tuesday, there was no official word of any delays that would disrupt the filing period. In fact, at least one court ruling last week cleared the way for several judicial candidates who originally were off the ballot.
            U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles partially granted a preliminary injunction against Senate Bill 656, which, when passed by the Republican-led NC General Assembly last year, eliminated judicial primary races. In her order, Judge Eagles said it made no sense to do away with primaries for statewide races for the state Court of Appeals and the NC Supreme Court (currently there are races for both) because neither post are depended on voting districts.
            However, because district and superior court cases do involve voting districts, and the legislature is currently considering a new judicial redistricting map (expected to be debated and voted on this week, according to reports) Judge Eagles decided to allow the elimination of primaries in those races, until she can decide whether the law was completely unconstitutional.
            “The defendants have offered a legitimate governmental interest in this change as to elections of superior and district court judges, as the legislature plans to redistrict these seats this year and primaries using current district lines may be unnecessary and will cause confusion if and when the redistricting is complete,” Judge Eagles wrote in her opinion. “The defendants have made no showing of any governmental interest supporting the abolishment of a mechanism to narrow the field in partisan appellate judicial races, as those judges are elected statewide and are not subject to redistricting.”
            Meanwhile, in the legislative redistricting case where a federal three-judge panel ruled that the maps drawn by a court-appointed special master should be used to correct the racially gerrymandered voting districts drawn by GOP lawmakers, the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday temporarily blocked a special master’s maps for Wake and Mecklenburg counties, while allowing maps for six other redrawn counties to stand. Republican legislative leaders petitioned for an emergency stay, as well as a notice of appeal.
            It is not known why the Wake and Mecklenburg county maps were blocked.
            In all, there are five redistricting cases pending in the both federal and state courts in North Carolina, and most observers expect that because these cases deal with how voting districts are drawn, while the filing for office may not be delayed, the May primaries may be for at least a month.



CUTLINE - Tweet from Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) on Feb. 2 when she learned that black unemployment jumped almost a point

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            During his speech in Cincinnati Monday, Pres. Donald Trump attacked members of the Congressional Black Caucus who, while Republicans were loudly applauding, refused to clap while African kente’ cloth draped their all-black attire, or acknowledge the president’s announcement that black unemployment had dropped to an historic 45-year low during his first State of the Union address to Congress and the nation.
            You’re up there. You got half the room going totally crazy, wild, loved everything,” Trump said in his remarks Monday. “They want to do something great for our country, and you have the other side, even on positive news — really positive news — like that, they were like death, un-American. Somebody said treasonous. Yeah, I guess, why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”
            Even before the Republican president accused them of “treason” for not applauding him, two prominent members of the CBC – Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-1) – had pretty much had their fill of Trump, especially after his infamous “s---hole” reference to Haiti and Africa.
            So his subsequent taking credit for black unemployment going down to just single digits for the first time in a long time, didn’t help.
            “African American unemployment has been going down for a decade, yet it’s still double white unemployment,” Rep. Adams tweeted Jan. 30th. “Would POTUS be celebrating if this stat were the other way around?”
            The morning of the SOTU, when the Black Press called Rep. Butterfield at his office, and asked how Washington was doing, the North Carolina congressman replied tongue–in-cheek, “Not well, not well! I don’t think this president is going to say anything constructive.”
            When asked about the decline in black unemployment (which was 6.8, a fall from a high of over 15.2 years earlier), Butterfield echoed his North Carolina colleague’s sentiment.
            “Pres. Barack Obama worked very hard to get the economy under control,” Rep. Butterfield said. “When Obama stepped into the Oval office, he inherited a terrible economy. We were bleeding 700,00-800,000 jobs per month, the automotive industry was about to shut down, the stock market was plummeting, consumer confidence was at an all-time low…things were not good.”
            “He inherited a Trillion-and-a-half dollar deficit. So for eight years, he very painfully, tried to get the unemployment rate down…so what Donald trump is experiencing now is simply a continuation of a trend that began during the Obama years,” Congressman Butterfield continued.
            ‘There’s no question the black unemployment rate is down. But what get’s overlooked in that conversation is black under-employment. I know a lot of people who are employed, but are very unhappy, because they’re making minimum wage or near minimum wage. So we have to talk about black under-employment as well.”
            Butterfield went on to say that that black unemployment was 6.8 percent, but the overall jobless rate was 4.1 percent, meaning it was still high compared to the national average.
            That was Tuesday, Jan. 30th, the night of Pres. Trump’s SOTU.
            Three days later, black unemployment was reported at 7.7 percent, up almost a full point.
            Tweeting a frowning face she had during the SOTU, Congresswoman Adams wrote, “That face you make when you learn that the Black unemployment rate has one of the largest increases in years to 7.7%.
            Adams ended the Feb. 2nd tweet, ‘#ThingsTrumpWontTalkAbout #SOTU.”


            [RALEIGH] All roads lead to Raleigh Saturday for the 12th Annual Moral March on Raleigh & Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’ Assembly, sponsored by the NC NAACP, it’s 125 local branches, and it’s over 200 social justice coalition partners. This year’s theme is “Taking the Resistance Straight to the Ballot Box,” and thousands of demonstrators from across the state are expected to converge on downtown Raleigh early Saturday morning at 8:30 am for the pre-rally which begins at 9 am at the corner of Wilmington and South Streets near Shaw University. At 10 am, the march/people’s Assembly begins to the state Capitol. For more information, go to, or

            [RALEIGH] The official national kickoff of the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign isn’t supposed to begin until May, but last Tuesday, 30 cities across the nation, including here in Raleigh, started pre-kickoff marches with small, but determined groups of protesters. At least 30 gathered on the Halifax Mall across from the NC legislature, and rallied to demand that state and federal governments do much more to help the poor. Then they marched over to the Legislative Building, and delivered letters to the offices of Republican leaders Senate President Phil Berger, and House Speaker Tim Moore. The leaders of the national Poor People’s Campaign are Bishop William Barber, former president of the NC NAACP, and Rev. Liz Theoharis.

            [RALEIGH] Touring the nation, gathering testimony and evidence pertaining to the status of voting rights, the US Commission on Civil Rights came to Raleigh Feb. 2nd,  hearing testimony, and allowing the public to speak to the issue. Throughout the daylong session, various panelists told the commission about why North Carolina is considered Ground Zero in the national battle over voter redistricting and voting rights. The state has repeatedly been chastised by state, federal courts, and even the US Supreme Court, for implementing unconstitutional laws and redistricting maps to gain partisan advantage come election time. The commission is expected to use the information gathered for an ongoing assessment of federal enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.