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.

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