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.


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