STATE REP. H.M. "MICKEY" MICHAUX, JR.
DEAN OF BLACK LAWMAKERS,
REP. MICHAUX, SAYS GOODBYE
By Cash Michaels
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.
DID RUSSIANS TRY TO SUPPRESS
NC BLACK VOTE IN 2016 ELECTION?
By Cash Michaels
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.”
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATES "PAINTED" HIGH
SCHOOL RACIAL SLUR
By Cash Michaels
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.”