Monday, April 30, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            A black performer and his support staff allege that they were treated unfairly by security at the recent NC Azalea Festival concert on Front Street, and ended up leaving before they could take to the stage.
            They allege that they were the targets of racial discrimination by white security personnel backstage while they were preparing for a performance.
            The executive director of the annual festival says her staff is looking into the allegations, but made clear that organizers wanted tight security, especially in the backstage area.
            The NC Azalea Festival is a “nationally recognized” annual event that”…showcases [Wilmington’s] rich array of artwork, gardens, history, and culture through recreational, educational and family-oriented events,” according to the festival’s website.
            This year, rapper/film star Ludacris was a featured April 14thperformer, along with a handful of other black performers, on the main stage at Front Street in the Cape Fear Community College parking lot.
            Louis Nixon and his group were among the opening acts.
            Nixon told The Journalthat he was invited to perform at the festival by “host,” Brian Walker during a disc jockey “battle” competition between performances by Childish Major and Ludacris.
            Nixon’s group – which included a stylist, a security to monitor their equipment, a videographer, an a road manager, among others - consisted of seven people, including himself.  They arrived at 3 p.m., and began prepping to perform for between 6:30 and 8 p.m.
            Nixon says neither he nor his group were being paid for their appearance. Instead, they were hoping for greater exposure before a large audience that came to see national recording artist Ludacris.
            Nixon says “everything was fine” in the beginning after they setup and began rehearsing. After they finished, Nixon says he and his group – which were the only blacks backstage at the time, he says -  went to a “little area around 4:45 p.m. to relax before the gates opened to begin letting concertgoers in.
            That’s when two white security guards from two private firms began “hovering around” Nixon and his crew “…pointing fingers…as if we’re not supposed to be there.”
            Nixon says one of the security guards then goes to a tent, and comes back with “ten DJ passes,” telling Nixon and his crew, “If you don’t have a DJ pass, you’re going to be escorted out of here.”
            That’s when the white guard started giving several passes to other white people  backstage, leaving “one or two” passes for Nixon and his crew of seven.
            Nixon gets a pass, but no one else on his crew gets one, and he didn’t want them forced to wait out in the parking lot, he said.
            “It can’t go down like that,” he said. “So the fact that [my crew] couldn’t get passes, we felt that we were being racially discriminated against.”
            Nixon maintains that “…nobody explained anything.” If a person didn’t have  a pass, they had to leave the backstage area, or they would be escorted out, security warned.
            Not wanting to cause a scene that would warrant nearby police officers to get involved, Nixon decided, “We’re going to get up out of here.”
 He and his crew left, without performing.
            The Journalcontacted several of Louis Nixon’s crew from that day, including Cory Nitres Holland, Dijon Wilder and Jumell Armstrong, and each of them confirmed that their group was treated unfairly, disrespectfully and arbitrarily by backstage security, and they, too, it was because of race.
Ms. Deborah Dicks Maxwell, president of the New Hanover County NAACP, told The Journalthat as of press time Monday, her group had not gotten a written complaint from Mr. Nixon yet.
            Still, she indicated, “We are concerned, and will contact and review.”
            Alison English, executive director of the NC Azalea Festival, told The JournalTuesday that she first found out about the alleged incident by reading a blog that Mr. Nixon had created. 
            “Since that time we have contacted our concerts committee, that was in charge of that whole venue, and we’re investigating .[per] and internal investigation to see if there’s any validity at all to his statement,” Ms. English told The Journal Tuesday.
            “I don’t know exactly, at this point, all that had happened,” she continued. “I do know that we keep that backstage area of the concert …of course we have to keep that really, really tight…one, for security purposes; and two, for the national artists.”
            English went on to state that “multiple” security agencies – ranging from private security to local police officers, were on-duty April 14thto make sure that everything was safe ans secure.
            “So we can’t have two hundred people back there while Ludacris is trying to relax and get ready to take the stage. I don’t know if that was an issue, but we are launching and investigation with all of the parties involved, just to see if there is any validity to what he was stating.”
            Ms. English added that the festival has had the Front Street concert venue for five years, and until now, had not had any allegations of racial discrimination arise.
            “This is the first of anything like this happening,” she assured.

                                                     REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On Sunday, May 13th, Mother’s Day, Rev. Dr. William Barber, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, and former president of the NCNAACP; and Rev. Dr. Liz Theohsris, co-director of the Kairos Center, will officially kick-off the “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.”
            “Some things are not about left and right, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, but about right and wrong,” said Rev. Barber. “We need a moral movement to challenge the nation’s elected leaders, to critique unjust policies and lift the cries of the impacted and cause the nation to change and do better.”
            The new movement – inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s original Poor People’s Campaign fifty years that was cut short because of his assassination – seeks, according to campaign organizers, to accomplish three goals:
            1 – “Nonviolently and morally confront the immoral policies of systematic racism, systematic poverty, the war economy/militarism, ecological devastation, and the distorted moral narrative of so-called “Christian/religious nationalism.”
            2 – “Engage in massive voter registration/mobilization among the poor and working poor of every race, creed, color, sexuality, gender, age and demographic.”
            3 – “Build power and fusion unity among the poor and those most impacted alongside clergy, moral leaders and people of conscience.”
            The Mother’s Day kick-off from Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, DC, is actually the opening day salvo of a forty-day campaign that spans the following six weeks with weekly themes.
            Week One  (May13-19) – SOMEBODY’S HURTING OUR PEOPLE.
            Week Two (May 20-26) – LINKING SYSTEMIC RACISM AND POVERTY
            Week Three (May 27 – June 2) – THE WAR ECONOMY
            Week Four (June 3-9) THE RIGHT TO HEALTH AND A HEALTHY PLANET
            Week Five (June 10 -16) EVERYBODY’S GOT THE RIGHT TO LIVE
            Week Six  (June 17 – 22) A NEW AND UNSETTLING FORCE
            On the following day, June 23rd, there will be a Global Day of Solidarity and Sending Forth Call to Action Mass Rally in Washington, D.C..
            After the Mother’s Day kick-off, on Monday, May 14th,  the North Carolina leg of the national Poor People’s Campaign will hold a “Take Action” mass rally in Raleigh’s Bicentennial Plaza, 1 East Edenton Street. This rally will simultaneously occur at 2 p.m., along with similar “Take Action” rallies in  31 other state capitals across the country.
            “We’re calling the poor, and the working poor, of all different races, colors and creeds to come together, along with clergy, along with advocates, to be fully engaged,” Rev. Barber says.
            Go to, and click on “the Poor People’s Campaign,” to join, and learn more.

by Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            North Carolinians living in communities of “concentrated poverty” across the state – communities with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher - are facing a “double burden,” states a new report by The N.C. Budget and Tax Center, a division of the progressive N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh.
            Titled, “ Going Backwards: A Growth in Concentrated Poverty Signals Increasing Levels of Economic and Racial Segregation,” the report, written by NCBTC researcher Brian Kennedy II, continues that, “This “double burden” limits economic mobility and prosperity, not just for those experiencing poverty, but for every community member, and ultimately, for the entire state.”
            Kennedy goes on to state that concentrated poverty is the result of bad state policy choices, like “state-supported discriminatory housing markets, poorly executed public housing projects, interstate and highway projects made possible through eminent domain laws, and a lack of investment in public services – that have reinforced barriers.”
            The result for citizens living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty? Isolation from vital needed resources like jobs, access to wealth, and  a quality education,’ the report continues. There are also environmental and geographical challenges those in poverty are forced to contend with.
            And because of that social and resource isolation, the communities of people subject to concentrated poverty are not only stigmatized, but socially and governmentally neglected.
            The NCBTC report goes on to state that since 2000, the number of neighborhoods with people living in concentrated poverty across the state, has tripled. 
            In 2016, “…more that 348,000 North Carolinians living in 109 concentrated poverty neighborhoods, far outpaced the 84,493 people in 37 concentrated poverty communities in 2000, according to the report.
            Between 2012 and 2016, African-American North Carolinians were 71 percent likely than Latinos, and 434 percent more likely than whites to be living in concentrated poverty, the report continues.
            And concentrated poverty is no longer an exclusive urban problem. There is growing evidence that rural communities are now subject to the “double burden” of concentrated poverty. In 2000, only 13 neighborhoods of concentrated poverty were found in rural communities. In 2016, that number more than tripled to 45.
            Part of the reason, states the NCBTC report, is the increasing gentrification of North Carolina cities, which is driving housing prices through the roof, thus forcing the poor and working poor to flee to rural North Carolina for survival.
            Finally, the report recommends that state policymakers counter the “double burden” of concentrated poverty by “boosting the income of those earning poverty level wages; erase the physical barriers to accessing opportunity;” and that they also “…recognize the historic and continuous role of policy in driving inequalities.”


            [RALEIGH] It’s been five years since 17 activists were the first to be arrested by police during a massive demonstration at the state legislature by the NCNAACP and coalition groups. The protest was against what demonstrators called the “repressive” policies of the Republican-led NC General Assembly. In all, over 1,000 people were eventually arrested the demonstrations became a weekly ritual every Monday that state lawmakers were in session. It wasn’t long before “Moral Mondays,” coined by then NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber, became a national phenomenon. Earlier this week, the NCNAACP and coalition members gathered again behind the legislature, and new President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, one of the original 17 who were first arrested, vowed that the movement will “…continue to resist.”

            [RALEIGH] Published reports indicate that Republican legislative leaders will be cutting appropriations to Legal Aid, which provides legal services to poor and indigent  clients. According to NC Policywatch, Legal Aid will suffer a $1.7 million cut from the proposed budget that GOP legislative leaders will unveil when the Short Session commences May 18th. Typical Legal Aid cases involve eviction, foreclosure, domestic violence, predatory lending, VA benefits, unemployment and food assistance.

            [GREENSBORO] Several state employees deemed to be underpaid for the work they do for state government, are scheduled to see fatter paychecks, starting this month. Reportedly, at least $7.8 million has been set aside to give raises to approximately 3,000 workers. They’re average pay will be raised by $217.00 a month/$2,600 per year. These raises will be retroactive to February, making the May paycheck much larger than usual.


Monday, April 23, 2018




by Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            They came to Washington, DC from 35 historically black colleges and universities across the nation, to demand of their congress people to provide more funding to their schools for campus improvements, more Pell Grants for students, and more federal research funding.
            April 17th, the HBCU Collective - students, alumni, and supporters -
went back to the nation’s capital for their Second Annual “Day of Action,” to make their case that lawmakers need to treat black institutions of higher learning the same as they treat their predominately-white counterparts – fairly.
            “We produce the most science, technology, engineering and math scholars; most black doctors, black lawyers, most black engineers,” HBCU Collective founder Robert Stephens, a 2008 alumnus of Winston-Salem State University, said recently. “We’re saying that HBCU’s make a huge contribution to society, and we just want to make sure that our schools are sustainable.”
            Among those speaking at the noon press conference on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, Dr. Paulette Dillard, interim President of Shaw University in Raleigh, and Matthew Collins, II, a junior at North Carolina Central University in Durham.
            Shaw, the oldest HBCU in the country, sent at least thirty students to the “Day of Action.” Students from St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, and other North Carolina HBCUs, attended as well.
            “When Shaw University was founded in 1865, it was the first institution of higher learning for newly freed slaves in the South,” Pres. Dillard said. “ As the South’s first HBCU, Shaw University has a proud tradition and a rich history. For 152 years, Shaw has educated black lawyers, teachers, doctors, scientists, academics, pastors, business leaders, activists, and citizens who have made countless contributions to our state, nation, and our world.”
            “These students here today are proof that in the 21stcentury, HBCUs will continue to play a vital role in educating the leaders of tomorrow,” Dr. Dillard concluded.
            Matthew Collins, II, a junior Mass Communications student at NCCU, told those gathered at the press conference that he chose NCCU “…for its diversity,” and was proud of the rich history of HBCUs.
            “[We’re] calling on our state, and federal legislators, to not only preserve our HBCUs, but also preserve our legacy, preserve our culture, preserve our traditions, and especially our Black men in service to our communities.”
            Though she was unable to attend the press conference, Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), in a statement for the occasion, lauded the HBCU Collective, noting that in the recent 2018 Omnibus budget passed by Congress, HBCUs received significant support, thanks to their lobbying.
            “The voices of our HBCUs have helped us in the Congress change the conversation from “why do we need HBCUs” to “what would we ever do without them?” Rep. Adams stated.

PRICE UNDER PRESSURE - as Fourth District Congressman David Price listens, his May 8th Democratic primary opponent, Rev. Michelle Laws, blast him, alleging that he will only leave a legacy for "...little white children...," at the expense of the black community. Price denied the charge during the spirired Raleigh-Apex NAACP Candidate's Forum Saturday [Photo by Cash Michaels]

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            A veteran white NC Democratic congressman has been publicly accused of leaving a thirty-year legacy “…to little white children…,” by his African-American primary opponent, allegedly at the expense of the black constituents in his district he’s supposed to have served.
            Of North Carolina’s thirteen congressional districts, only three are Democrat – Rep. G. K. Butterfield in the First; David Price in the Fourth; and Rep. Alma Adams in the Twelfth.
            Both reps. Adams and Price face primary opponents in the upcoming May 8thprimary – opponents who hope to unseat the district incumbent for a chance Nov. 6thto face the Republican challenger.
            And while Adams and Butterfield are the only two African-Americans in the NC Congressional delegation, Rev. Dr. Michelle Laws of Chapel Hill, former executive director of the NC NAACP, is vying hard to become the third.
            So much so that she’s taken off the gloves in going after Price, who has served in Congress representing North Carolina, for 29 years, accusing the Fourth District congressman of doing nothing for African-Americans during his tenure in Washington.
The Fourth Congressional District encompasses parts of Wake, Durham and Orange counties, and is comprised of a sizable black voting population.
“We are at a critical point in our history where we can’t be fearmongered and fooled into thinking that other people have our best interests at heart,” Rev. Laws said during last Saturday’s Raleigh-Apex NAACP Candidates Forum, where she and Rep. Price appeared.
            “Congressman Price will leave a thirty-year legacy…to little white children…basically,” Rev. Laws openly chuckled. “His kids and his grandkids will get to look at him, and see a proud legacy that he’s leaving. He will go to his community, that is majority- white in Chapel Hill, when he retires, never, ever have to come out and speak to any of us again, if he chooses.”
            Rev. Laws continued, “He’ll be surrounded by the people in the community that I grew up in, who think it’s a philanthropic mission, to help and provide service to black people, but when it’s time for real power, and the exchange of power and resources, he will do simply what we’ve seen him do, and that is look out for his own …legacy.”
            “We’ve got to do better by our children, by the legacy that we’re leaving our children,” Laws admonished the predominately-black audience at the forum. “Everybody was so happy to see the movie (“Black Panther”). Well our children deserve to see their Wakanda heroes too at this point.”
            Like Congressman Price, Rev. Laws also focused on important local and national issues facing the Fourth District and the nation. But unlike Price, who noted the standard fare of affordable housing, jobs and education, in addition to getting Pres. Donald Trump out of office, Rev. Laws also focused on issues primarily affecting the black community – economic inequality, the school-to-prison pipeline, the need for criminal justice reform, among others, and she laid the blame for governmental inaction on those issues directly at Price’s feet.
            If anything, Rev. Laws was representing a growing, vocal youth discontent with what are seen as older, “establishment” Democrats like Congressman Price, who she alleged always come to the black community to speak at churches only at election time, and get select black spokespeople to reliably deliver the African-American vote, but rarely deliver on the election promises made. 
            Laws made it clear that during her run for Congress, she was holding David Price both responsible, and accountable, for what she says are serious, festering problems in the black community per his district.
“I’m not going to respond to accusations that have been thrown around today…’ Congressman Price said while giving his closing statement, “ later adding, “I’m not going to be accused of indifference..,” after countering that he did respond “immediately” after three Muslim students were gunned down in Chapel Hill a few years ago.
            “I have worked with this organization (the NAACP), and with this community…all aspects of our community, in as conscientious and as dedicated a way as I know how. Nothing new about that,” Rep. Price concluded, noting that he has worked with the black community over the years on housing, improving education and “good jobs.”  

            [RALEIGH] The NC NAACP will hold a “FIVE” Rally on Monday, April 30th, 5:30 p.m. on the Halifax Mall behind the Legislature on Jones Street in downtown Raleigh. The rally will address fair courts, fair immigration, voting rights, veterans and education/economic/environmental justice and equality. For more information please go to

            [RALEIGH] By now you’ve noticed that gasoline prices have gone up dramatically in recent weeks. Prices to fillup your tank are the highest they’ve been in three years, with some parts of the country experiencing $4.00 per gallon gas. AAA of the Carolinas says gas prices here have gone up an average of $2.76 a gallon. AAA also notes that’s 20 cents more per gallon than a month ago, and 40 cents more per gallon that a year ago.

            [DURHAM] Former 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former president of the NCNAACP, Rev. Dr. William Barber, came together for a joint appearance at Duke Chapel last week, to call for economic justice, a “moral economy,” and an end to racism.” The two national leaders agreed that, especially during the age of Pres. Trump, fundamental changes are needed in the country if it is to survive as a truly just and constitutional nation. The event was postponed from Jan. 19thbecause Sen. Sanders had to stay in Washington for an important Senate vote.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Special to the NNPA

            [DURHAM, NC] Ten member newspapers of the North Carolina Black Publishers Association, and NNPA Pres. Rev. Benjamin Chavis, have agreed to mount a statewide campaign to maximize the African-American vote for the 2018 midterm elections.
            And reaching eligible young people through an aggressive voter registration/issue education and mobilization effort is seen as key. 
            North Carolina, Texas and Florida are considered to be important states that could change the makeup of Congress if the African-American vote flexes its muscle. The Black Press is considered essential in those states to mobilize that electoral strength. 
            Primaries in North Carolina are scheduled for May 8th, with early voting
            With billions, Rev. Chavis said, not millions, of dollars are going to be spent during this election, the Black Press in North Carolina and other states deserve their share.
            Unfortunately, both the Democratic and Republican parties have traditionally proven to be sorely lacking when it comes to supporting the Black Press when it comes to advertising.
            The Democrats, despite clear evidence that African-Americans are their most loyal voting base, have been accused of taking the black vote for granted. And Republicans have proven to ignore the African-American community entirely. 
            NCBPA publishers agree that the political parties must be challenged immediately while advertising budget decisions are being made.
            NNPA Pres. Chavis, a North Carolina native, said that the get-out-the-vote (GOTV) strategy should be “data driven” for all of the state’s 100 counties. He noted that each of North Carolina’s African-American newspapers together cover the entire state, and once the pertinent voting data is obtained, a campaign should be developed around it, especially on social media and celebrity participation.
            “In our plan, we should have coverage of the whole state – all 100 counties,” Chavis said, adding the effort should especially target African-Americans who are eligible to vote, but are not registered…in 2018.”
            Chavis said he’s seen figures from 2012 that the number of eligible, unregistered blacks in North Carolina was between 400,000 – 500,000. He said that figure is most likely higher now because of voter suppression, and the purging of state voter rolls.
            From now until September, Rev. Chavis added, voter registration must be emphasized. Then from September to Nov. 4th, GOTV must take center-stage.
Part of the plan is to identify twenty North Carolina cities where the NNPA-CashWorks HD Productions 2014 award-winning film, “Pardons of Innocence: the Wilmington Ten,” can be screened in concert with a locally coordinated voter registration drive.
            NNPA Pres. Chavis, recognized as the leader of the Wilmington Ten – ten civil rights activists falsely convicted of arson, and imprisoned, in the 1971 destruction of a white-owned grocery store during the height of racial unrest – would accompany the film to speak with audiences about the importance of voting and citizenship.
            Ms. Thatch indicated that the film was successfully screened in Lumberton, NC in March to over 400 people from there and surrounding counties.
            “We want to recreate that spirit in 20 locations between now and November,” she said, adding that the GOTV initiative should also focus on rural communities.”
            Helping the community to understand that empowerment through voting is the key, Rev. Chavis said. Directing young people to register online via “Rock the Vote,” in part to eliminate the normal complications to voter registration, is also another strategy that should be implemented. 
            Chavis also emphasized that NCBPA members should immediately seek to get available advertising dollars to publicize voter registration efforts.
            “We should make voter registration easy [for young people]. Not hard,” Chavis said.
            “And we’re going to have to develop an agenda to get young people to vote,” added NCBPA Pres. Mary Alice Thatch, focusing on issues like police brutality, poverty, the achievement gap,  and better employment and small business opportunities. Additionally, economic development in the black community should also be emphasized as an important outgrowth of voting.
            In the meantime, the Black Press should begin now reporting about the value of the African-American vote in their papers.
            “We can’t expect other people to value us more than we do,” Rev. Chavis cautioned, adding that he was willing to come back to North Carolina to formulate the plan.
            The ten NCBPA member newspapers present were The Wilmington JournalThe Carolina Peacemaker; The Carolina Times; the Carolina Call; The Carolinian, Greater Diversity News; The Fayetteville Press; The County News; The Daily Drum; and TheUrban News.
Four of the NCBPA newspapers – The Carolina Call,The Urban News, The Daily Drumand The Fayetteville Press - are applying for membership in the National Black Newspaper Association.

A TRUE AMERICAN HERO - Raleigh City Councilman Corey Branch and his wife, Chanda, speak with Cong. John Lewis during his visit to North Carolina Saturday. (picture courtesy of Willie Rowe)

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            With the May 8thprimaries commencing in three weeks, and early voting beginning April 19ththrough May 5th, veterans of the 60’s and 70’s civil rights movement came to North Carolina recently to encourage black voters to study the issues, register to vote, and cast their ballots in both the primaries and Nov. 6thmidterm elections.
            On Saturday, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia came to Knightdale to attend a private fundraiser for St. Augustine’s University, urging all to support HBCUs.
            But the veteran civil rights hero also made the case for turning out the black vote.
Urging the predominately black audience to “Vote like never before,’ Congressman Lewis credited black female Democrats in Alabama and Virginia with helping to defeat Trump-backed Republicans in the last few statewide elections..
            “Men, we must get on the ball,” Lewis told his audience. “The women and the young people are going to get us there.”
            “Men and women of color, with our white, Hispanic, Asian-American colleagues and friends, must come together,” Lewis continued. “If I can say anything, we’ve got to vote like we’ve never voted before!”
            Cong. Lewis then recounted the legendary March, 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. Led by his friend and mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lewis recalled how black people in Alabama did not have the right to even register to vote without unconstitutional poll taxes.
            Lewis talked about how the Alabama state troopers blocked the 600 marchers as they came over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and began beating them mercilessly with night sticks and bullwhips, and firing tear gas.
 Lewis – who was 25-years-old at the time -  was seriously struck on the head, causing a concussion.
“I thought I saw death. I thought I was going to die,” Cong. Lewis said, hauntingly as the audience intently listened. “But GOD Almighty kept me here.”
Lewis added that he was “so pleased” on the 50thanniversary of the Selma march to walk across the Pettus Bridge with the nation’s first African-American president, Barack Obama.
“So we cannot give up, we cannot give in. We cannot let forces try to take us back to another time and another place.”
Another veteran of the civil rights movement who came to North Carolina recently was Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, a native of Oxford.
Chavis, president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, was in Durham April 6thto meet with black newspaper publishers statewide about strategizing to turn out North Carolina’s black vote for the midterms. North Carolina is considered to be a critical state in both the 2018 midterms, and the 2020 presidential elections.
Dr. Chavis said figures he’s seen indicate that anywhere from 400,00mafde 0 to 500,000 eligible African-Americans across the state were not registered to vote in 2012. Every effort must be made to significantly shrink that number for the 2018 midterm elections. All efforts must also be made to register, and then mobilize eligible young people as well, by focusing on issues of most concern to them, like police brutality, and economic opportunity.
“We must make voter registration easy [fopr young people],” Chavis said. “Not hard.”
Chavis also maintained that any get-out-to-vote strategy adopted by the state’s black press must be data-driven per all 100 counties. He urged black newspapers to begin reporting on the value of the black vote.
“We can’t expect other people to value us more than we do,” Rev. Chavis cautioned.


            [RALEIGH] A conservative state lawmaker warned his colleagues Monday that if they don’t vote to arm teachers in North Carolina, the blood of murdered school children,”…will be on our hands.” Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus), a strong proponent of gun rights, made the chilling prediction in an email sent Monday evening to fellow legislators. Pittman is a member of the state House Select Committee on School Safety. He called arming teachers and other school personnel “…The most practical, common sense, and constitutionally sound proposal of all.” Most teachers polled across the state oppose being armed in the classroom.

            [CHARLOTTE] A Charlotte City Councilwoman has indicated on her Facebook page that she doubts what has been reported about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York which killed 3,000 people. LaWana Mayfield wrote that she is waiting for someone “to produce pieces of the alleged plane that opened the doors for US citizens to (lose) all privacy rights.” Mayfield layer told a local radio station that she thought the attacks were used “to not only create a way through government to spy on the American people , but also to privatize a lot of the work that is happening on the ground.”

            [RALEIGH] A three-judge panel ruled April 13ththat even though challengers in a Wake District redistricting case “have demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of their claims,” voters will still be allowed to cast their ballots during the upcoming May 8thprimaries. Allison Riggs, senior attorney for voting rights for Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which challenged the state House districts, issued a statement saying, “We are gratified that the court recognized that the legislature likely acted unconstitutionally when it unnecessarily redrew several Wake County House Districts. We will aggressively litigate this case to final resolution to ensure there are fair districts in place by the time voters go to the ballot box in 2020. Basic legal principles of equality demand that voters in Wake County have the same right to vote in constitutional districts as every other resident in the state.”



Monday, April 9, 2018


                               ROBERT STEPHENS, FOUNDER, HBCU COLLECTIVE

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On Tuesday, April 17th, they’re coming back to Washington.
            An estimated 200 students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) across the nation, coming to lobby members of Congress to increase financial support for students, increase funding for federal research grants, and more funding for campus facility upgrades.
            The event is called, “ The Second Day of Action,” modeled after the first a year ago, sponsored by the HBCU Collective, and two of its designated leaders are from North Carolina HBCU’s.
            Founder Robert Stephens, 32, is a 2008 alum of Winston-Salem State University, while one of his co-leaders, Shambulia Gadsden Sams, is an alumna hailing from Shaw University in Raleigh.
            According to Stephens, who lives and works in Washington, D.C., he got the idea for the HBCU “Day of Action” last year after seeing Pres. Trump invite various presidents and chancellors from HBCU’s to the White House, under the guise of wanting to help their schools more than the previous Obama Administration.
            Stephens said he was “very concerned,” especially after the president moved the HBCU Initiative from the Education Dept. to the White House.
            “I thought it was a dangerous position to be in,” Stephens said. Indeed, some member so the HBCU contingency “felt (going to the White House) was just a photo opt.”
             Stephens called student body presidents at various HBCU’s, and all agreed that they didn’t trust the Trump Administration to be genuine in its promises. So they decided to mount the first “Day of Action” on Capital Hill, invited Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), a retired Bennett College professor, among others, to speak at their press conference, and the rest is history.
            The students, alumni, and other HBCU supporters walked the halls of Congress, lobbying on behalf of their cause.
            When Pres. Trump released his budget proposal last year, Stephens said one look convinced him that HBCU’s were not a priority for the president. In fact, a lot of Title III funding that HBCU’s traditionally got under Pres. Obama, were cut by Trump.
            It wasn’t until Congress put forth its own Omnibus budget funding proposal, which indeed prioritized Pell Grant funding; increased funding for the HBCU Capital Financing Program; and also increased funding for the TRIO and GEAR Up programs.
            Overall, a $35 million increase in HBCU funding, which Stephens calls “Significant.” But he adds that HBCU students shouldn’t have to twist arms every year, and that their schools should receive the same funding and consideration that predominately-white colleges and universities receive.
            “The oldest HBCU has been around for 200 years, “Stephens says. “We produce the most science, technology, engineering and math scholars; most black doctors, black lawyers, most black engineers. We’re saying that HBCU’s make a huge contribution to society, and we just want to make sure that our schools are sustainable.”
            Buses to attend the “Second Annual Day of Action” will leave from HBCU’s across North Carolina early Tuesday morning, joining other buses from across the country headed towards Washington.
            Stephens added that he’s very supportive of a voter registration drive for HBCU students, so that they can vote during the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            If you, like many in the black community statewide, feel strongly about moving statues paying tribute to the Confederacy from state government grounds, then you have until midnight tonight, April 12, 2018, to electronically submit them to the NC Historical  Commission’s Confederate Monument Study Committee.
            The online address to obtain the form is
            Once you fully fill out the form, which includes your name, address, and comments on whether you are for, or against removing all Confederate statues and memorials from state government grounds, you simply click the submit button to turn it in online.
            You must submit the completed form no later than 12 midnight tonight, April 12, 2018.
            Thus far, over 4,600 comments – both pro and con – have been submitted by the public to the study commission for consideration. During a public hearing last month held  by the committee, about 60 people attended , with the majority expressing objection to removal of any of the Confederate memorials.
            There are three statues/memorials in question:
-       The 75-foot Capitol Confederate Monument in front of the State Capitol Building, which commemorates the “Confederate dead. It was erected in 1895.
-       The Henry Lawson Wyatt Monument commemorating the first Confederate soldier killed during the Civil War “Battle of Bethel.” The monument was erected in 1912.
-       And the Monument to North Carolina Women of the Confederacy. It was erected in 1912.

Shortly after the racial violence last August in Charlottesville, Va. over the
controversial removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in a local park, and a group of activists toppled a statue of a Confederate officer in front of the old Durham courthouse in downtown, Gov. Roy Cooper proposed removing all Confederate memorials from state government grounds. He asked the NC Historical Commission to look into how to do so, while adhering to a 2015 law passed by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, making it difficult to remove “objects of remembrance.”
            The commission, after receiving the public comments about removing Confederate memorials from state grounds by midnight tonight, will then solicit legal opinions from Wake Forest University, NCCU Law School, UNC-Chapel Hill Law School, Elon University ,and Duke University law schools.
            The full commission will then meet in May to hear the results of the public comments, and other considerations, in a special report from the Confederate Monument Study Committee.



            [FAYETTEVILLE] An ethics commission for the Fayetteville City Council is investigating allegations that Councilman Tyrone Williams asked a developer for money to support an upcoming project. Williams is refusing to resign his seat, despite the fact that the FBI is reportedly investigating as well, and the alleged transaction was captured on audio tape. Mayor Mitch Colvin and eight other council people gave Williams a letter Monday asking him to step down, but he refused.  All he would say was, “Sorry for my mistakes.”

            [RALEIGH] Two survivors of the 2015 Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., where a young white supremacist fatally shot nine people during a Bible study, spoke at the NC Museum of History Tuesday, reflecting on the event that forever changed their lives. Polly Sheppard and Felicia Sanders told how they lost family members who were in that prayer meeting when Dylan Roof pulled out his gun and opened fire. Ms. Sanders lost her son and aunt that day. She says she still asks herself is she “did enough.” The pair spoke in honor of Crime Victims’ Week.

            [WASH., D.C.] Expect another $189 million in recovery aid coming from the federal disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Matthew. Matthew struck the eastern parts of North Carolina in October 2016, causing hundreds of millions of property damage to homes and businesses. Thus far, North Carolina has received 1.4 billion in congressional appropriations for Hurricane Matthew relief. $168 million is being provided by HUD for housing redevelopment and rebuilding, business assistance and economic revitalization, and $21 million is going towards disaster assistance from the US Dept. of Transportation.

Monday, April 2, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            If black voters want real change, they just can’t vote for it, say North Carolina black leaders.
            They have to work for it. 
            They must understand that when they vote someone into office, they are hiring that candidate to work for them, which means they must keep that candidate accountable long after the election.
            “The upcoming elections are critical, especially for our young people,” says Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1).
            “What more must we do to be saved?” asked Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of NCNAACP.
            Even though black females Democrats in Alabama are credited with helping to elect a white Democratic US Senator there for the first time in years recently, and Democrats, by and large, are feeling hopeful about taking back at least the US House, and possibly even the NC House, black voters showing up for the 2018 midterms is still an open question.
            By most indicators, even with the Trump Administration continuing to outrage many, black voters, this year, just aren’t feeling it.
            “4.4 million 2012 Obama voters stayed home in 2016 – more than a third of them black,” was the March 12th headline story in The Washington Post. Based on a report originally published by The New York Times, while “…12 percent of white voters who had backed Obama in 2012 voted for Trump four years later… eleven percent of black Obama 2012 voters stayed home.”
            The analysis is clear – if black voters showed up in decent percentages in 2016, Donald Trump most likely wouldn’t be president today. In fact, after his election, then President-elect Trump actually thanked black voters,
 Saying, “…They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was a big — so thank you to the African American community.”
            In North Carolina in 2016, the writing on the wall for a depressed black Democratic turnout came early in the form of lower than normal presidential year early voting black turnout. The fear is, the same may happen again this fall, especially since African-Americans historically don’t show up for midterm elections.
            For many black voters, there is an expressed sense of betrayal by the Democratic Party. They feel that being the party’s most loyal base of supporters has done little to change their fortunes, whether it be better employment, affordable housing, or fairer law enforcement in their communities.
            "Now people can wake up," Kelton Larson, 26, of Ohio told National Public Radio recently. "Black people have been voting for over 50 years, and nothing has ever changed. Our communities still look the same. We're still at the bottom of the economic poll."
            Here in North Carolina, black leaders are all too familiar with the African-American community’s perennial frustration with the political party is has supported overwhelming for decades. Even with more black elected officials than ever before, the failure of real, grassroots change, or “politics as usual,” is something many black voters, particularly millennials, have decided not to put up with anymore.
            But black Democratic leaders counter, that with Republicans in charge in the NC General Assembly, in Congress, and certainly in the White House, sitting on the sidelines during the 2018 midterm elections will not accomplish anything but embolden those who are making policies that ultimately hurt the African-American community.
            “Of course, there is no future, or no value in not advocating for your own interests,’ says Larry Hall, NC Secretary of Veteran Affairs. “You either have to participate and work to change the process, or participate and try to be effective in the current process. But sitting on the sidelines, and letting everyone else’s issues be addressed does nothing for you. So that’s a failed strategy, and certainly one that no one has proven works by not participating.”
            Voters don’t understand that it takes more than just showing up on Election Day, Sec. Hall agrees. Learning about the issues and the candidates’ positions on those issues, asking tough questions, and then, after the election, holding the candidate accountable by staying in touch, and making your voice heard.
            Many voters don’t do that, and thus become frustrated, he agrees.
            “It takes effort,” Sec. Hall said.

                                                             EARL CALDWELL

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            On April 4th, 1968 – fifty years ago this week – a shot rang out aimed at the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn.
            Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed, and Earl Caldwell, an African-American, was the only reporter there to witness the shooting.
            Caldwell was a national correspondent for The New York Times fifty years ago, one of the first blacks on staff. He would later write for the NY Amsterdam News, New York City’s lead black newspaper. His name is renowned in the annals of American journalism because in 1970, Caldwell refused to be an informant for the FBI on the Black Panther Party. The case was ultimately decided by the US Supreme Court, and as a result, all reporters today enjoy certain constitution protections.
            In a 2014 interview with the Black Press, Caldwell, 83, a writer-in-residence at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., recalled that fateful day when “The Dreamer” was killed on the balcony right above him.
            It was Caldwell’s first assignment in the “Deep South.” His white NY Times editor, Claude Sitton, who would later come to North Carolina to become editor of The News and Observer in Raleigh, wanted Caldwell to go to Memphis to negatively “nail” King, and advised him to get down there early to “get the lay of the land.”
            Dr. King had been in Memphis the week before in a march to support the striking sanitation workers, but the march turned violent.
            King canceled a scheduled voter registration appearance in Wilmington, NC, to go back to Memphis the first week in April 1968, to support the workers in their cause.
            “When Martin Luther King was assassinated, I was the only reporter there,” Caldwell recalls, “And that’s because there were only a few of us [black reporters working in major media].”
            During the turbulent sixties, major news organizations had a hard time covering the civil rights movement, and the riots in major cities, because they didn’t have many, if any, experienced black reporters on staff.
            Earl Caldwell was one of a few, and to this day, his version of the assassination of Dr. King continues to raise eyebrows.
            “You can take the official story, and what they say in that story…James Earl Ray shooting from the [flop house] bathroom window, fired, killed King, and then ran away…there’s not one single piece of the government’s official story that has any corroboration.”
            “Not one single piece,” Caldwell maintains. “But because I was there…I know that you don’t see everything…but I do know that sliver [of the truth] that came past me, and that’s the basis for what I say.”
            “ I was there,” Caldwell maintains, in Room 214 at the Lorraine Motel, “Looking dead at the crime scene.”
“I DID see this figure in the bushes! I quoted this one fellow; his name was Solomon Jones in my newspaper.” Jones was the chauffeur hired to drive Dr. King around in Memphis.
 “He saw what I saw, but he actually said he saw a little more. He went to the federal penitentiary. He said that he was being framed because he refused to change the story of what he told me in the NY Times of what he saw that night at the Lorraine Motel.”
            Caldwell continued, “ There was a housekeeper…same thing! But there was no official investigation! I can say that, because my room was right under Dr. King’s…just a few doors to the left. Nobody ever came to my door (asking) “Where were you standing? Did you see anything the night before? Earlier that day?
            “There was nothing!”
            Caldwell believes, to this day, that “Most importantly, there was a massive cover-up.”
            The next night someone came in, and they cut that thicket directly across from the motel, down to an inch from the ground. There are all of these things!”
            Earl Caldwell later quit The New York Times, and says he’s been working on a book about “…what happened in Memphis” ever since.
            Convicted King assassin James Earl Ray died in prison, but not before Dr. King’s family advocated for him, saying that they were convinced he was setup, and did not pull the trigger.
            The FBI said it spent “more man hours” on investigating the King assassination than  any other case, but Earl Caldwell maintains, even today, that “…there was no investigation.”
            Indeed, under pressure from the King family, it was President Bill Clinton who ordered then Attorney gen. Janet Reno to reopen the King murder case.
            But history still holds James Earl Ray responsible for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
           STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 04-05-18

            [ASHEVILLE] The Buncombe County sheriff is accusing three Democratic members of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners of being “anti-law enforcement,” after they proposed funding for use-of-force training, a human rights commission and an independent panel to review body camera footage. Sheriff Van Duncan, a Democrat, accuses the commissioners of exploiting body cam footage of a white Asheville police officer beating a black man after accusing him of jaywalking for “an anti-law enforcement agenda.” That police officer has since been removed for the force, and charged with felony assault.

            [GOLDSBORO] Protestors took to the streets Tuesday afternoon, demanding that local law enforcement solve 28 murders there over the past ten years, and also do more to quell violence in the community. Many of those protestors were family members of homicide victims whose deaths have gone unsolved. Many held up pictures of their murdered loved ones. Many were children who lost fathers to gun violence, widows who lost husbands, parents who lost sons. All were angry that thus far, there haven’t been any arrests in the outstanding cases.

            [RALEIGH] Since Gov. Roy Cooper won office last November, and Republican legislative leaders decided to aggressively limit his powers, the lawsuits have been flying from both sides, keeping private attorneys gainfully employed to the tune of $1.5 million so far, reports WRAL-TV. The GOP insists that the General Assembly has the constitutional power to make board appointments, and manage them accordingly. Cooper counters that as governor, he also has constitutional power of appointment, and won’t be giving those up without a fight. Meanwhile, taxpayers are getting the legal bills for this brohaha.