Wednesday, May 30, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer
In North Cr

            Black students in North Carolina are six times (5.81) more likely to be arrested during school and school activities than white students, according to the US Dept. of Education Civil Rights Data Collection from the 2015-2016 school year.
            And according to a recent report, nationally, the trend is growing.
            9.2 black students per 10,000 were arrested, compared to just 1.6 white students. 147 black students out of every 1,000 were suspended in North Carolina, compared to 44 white students per 1,000, according to the data. Despite making up just one-fourth of the students attending school in North Carolina, black students account for 50% of all students suspended.
            The states beyond North Carolina with a higher ratio of black student arrests compared to white are Iowa, Rhode Island and West Virginia.
            More than 600 students were arrested statewide at public schools, on school buses and transportation, or at off-campus activities during that school year.
            Keith Sutton, a Wake School Board member and president of the North Carolina Caucus of Black School Board Members, told a Raleigh TV station that compiled the numbers that that the numbers are “alarming, but not surprising.”
            So what is North Carolina doing about it?
            Both Gov. Cooper and Republican legislative leaders have pushed increasing funding for more school counselors, school nurses, and social workers. Cooper proposed in his budget at least $40 million, but GOP legislative leaders earmarked $35 million in their new budget just released Tuesday.
            Republicans say this is a process, and more funding will be in the offing.
            Gov. Cooper’s spokesman, Ford Porter, countered, accusing Republican lawmakers of “misguided priorities” and “shortchanging youth mental health and school safety.”
The governor wanted to see tax cuts shelved in the 2018-19 state budget, so that more funding could be appropriated, but GOP legislative leaders are not allowing any amendments during floor debate, and are expected to hold just an up or down vote on their budget, thus not allowing any changes.

 by Cash Michaels

            [RALEIGH] With some debate, but no prospect of amendments, the Republican-led NC General Assembly is ready to pass it’s $29.9 Billion budget for fiscal year 2018-19. Despite withering criticism from Democrats and others, Republican leaders say not allowing any amendments to their proposed budget is the most efficient way to proceed, will save taxpayers money, and get lawmakers home in plenty of time to start campaigning for the November midterm elections. When passed (Republicans have a supermajority to pass anything they want, regardless of Gov. Cooper’s veto) teachers and state employees will get raises, and will also put money towards Hurricane Matthew recovery. If the budget is passed this week, it most likely will be taken up next week. 

            [CHAPEL HILL] Her food is known all over the state, along with her restaurant’s friendly atmosphere and her warm, embracing smile. Her fried chicken and biscuits were to die for. That was the legend of “Mama Dip’s Kitchen”, the popular Chapel Hill black restaurant that was the “go-to” place for visitors, students, and everybody else in the area for many years. Mildred “Mama Dip” Council, 89, died last week. She was remembered for her warmed, and skills in the kitchen, and at business. Her children are carrying on the business.

            [RALEIGH] State House lawmakers have unveiled a measure requiring all state and county election board employees to undergo criminal background checks and fingerprinting. If a conviction is found on one’s record, they can either lose their job, or not be hired if they are applying. County election boards would also be required to submit personnel files to the State Board of Elections, for the purpose of supervising elections. The legislature has yet to take up the issue on the House floor.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Emphasizing that the June 30thend of the federal fiscal year was “..extremely critical,” Congressman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) pushed US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Tuesday to commit to implementing a key provision in the recently passed 2018 Omnibus budget “…provide for the deferment of loans” made under the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Capital Financing Program, and over $20 million to cover the cost of HBCU Capital Financing Program loans, including “the cost of modifying such loans.
            Rep. Adams, an HBCU alumna who taught at Bennett College, co-chairs the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus in Congress, and represents a state with more HBCUs (eleven)than any other, pushed Sec. DeVos during Tuesday’s House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on making sure that HBCUs received the assistance they required regarding the financing program loans before or by the June 30thfiscal year deadline.
            “The deferment will help these institutions make payments, and provide them with the necessary temporary relief from their loan payments,” Rep. Adams said. “We have approximately five to seven HBCUs that need these deferments in place by the end of their fiscal year.”
            Adams was concerned because DeVos had not yet responded to an urgent May 8thletter she, congressmen Bobby Scott and Ted Budd sent to the secretary regarding the matter, even though DeVos confirmed during the hearing that she did receive it, and she will respond.
            The three congresspeople originally fought to have the provision installed in the 2018 Omnibus budget to help HBCUs.
            “…many (HBCUs) must have some deferment or modification underway in order to meet requirements of end-of-year fiscal audits required by their accrediting bodies,” Adams, Scott and Budd wrote.
            Failure to meet end-of-year fiscal audit requirements could result in the closure of an HBCU. Adams made clear that is something she does not want to see again, and if the US Dept. of Education does not follow through with the mandates of the 2018 Omnibus budget, that could very well happen.
            Adams told Sec. DeVos in open hearing that she’d heard that the department might change the way it administers the loan deferment and modification, and she pressed DeVos “ …will you commit to administering the deferment program equitably so that we can ensure that we don’t have HBCU closures…?”
            “We are working on this carefully now, and I commit that we are going to see the intention of this addition to the Omnibus …see it through, and are committed to supporting HBCUs in their mission,” Sec. DeVos responded.
            Congresswoman Adams thanked Sec. Adams for her stated commitment, reemphasizing the importance of meeting the June 30thfiscal year deadline, and the Education Dept. working with those HBCUs that meets the required criteria for loan deferment, and applies in time, gets one.. 
            Earlier in the hearing, Sec. DeVos was grilled for not specifically what the Civil Rights Division of the US Education Dept. does. Published reports previously indicated that DeVos was changing the original mission of the Civil Rights Office from advocating for black, Hispanic, disabled and other students who were alleged victims of discrimination in the nation’s schools.

by Cash Michaels
contributing writer

            The second week of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival focused on systematic racism, voter suppression and immigration, but it was marked by high profile arrests, and intensified demands for social change.
            In Washington, D.C. Monday, Rev. Dr. William Barber, national co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, was joined by veteran civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, leading a large group of clergy, poor people and supporters into the US Capitol rotunda, praying, and seeking to deliver a list of demands to both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KTY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Which included a restoration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and an end to racial gerrymandering.
But US Capital police refused Rev. Barber, Rev. Jackson, and Poor People’s Campaign Co-chair Rev. Liz Theoharis access to either office, and gave the group three warnings to disperse, or be arrested.
            After ordering TV cameras and news reporters move to a separate room with the doors closed, officers arrested Rev. Barber and his supporters, ushering them outside to the rear of the Capitol Building.
            “America’s democracy was under attack long before the 2016 election by racist voter suppression and gerrymandering, which are tools of white supremacy designed to perpetuate systemic racism,”Rev. Barber said in a statement. “These laws target people of color but hurt Americans of all races by allowing politicians to get elected who block living wages, deny union rights, roll back Medicaid, attack immigrants, and underfund public education. Lifting up the 140 million Americans trapped in poverty today begins with ending this domestic assault on our democracy.” 
            While Revs. Barber and Jackson were leading the cause in Washington, Poor People’s campaign organizers in Raleigh were also hammering the same themes at the NC Legislative Building on Jones Street.
            Once again, demonstrators, as they did last week, rallied across the street in the Bicentennial Plaza, then walked across the street an entered the Legislative Building, seeking to deliver a list of demands to Republican legislative leaders House Speaker Tim Moore state Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger .
            But, just as in Washington, D.C., the Raleigh demonstrators were not only denied, but ordered to disperse, or face arrest.
            Unlike a week ago, when demonstrators faced only police citations for blocking the street in front of the Legislative Building, on Monday 12 of them were arrested and physically taken away.
            Organized supporters stood on the sidelines shouting, “We love you,” as police took people away.
            The national Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, says that the same nonviolent “direct action” confrontations took place simultaneously in 35 other state capitols across the country, and will again next Monday.
            This was part of a 40-day, six-week campaign of national protests to ensure that the plight of the poor was made part of the political conversation going into the 2018 midterm elections, and the upcoming 2020 presidential elections. 
            The NC Poor People’s Campaign is scheduled to return to Raleigh and the state Legislative Building next Monday.


            [RALEIGH] It had long been rumored, but now published reports say that the Republican-led House Elections Committee is expected to unveil a new bill to once again require voter identification in North Carolina. In 2013, the GOP majority in the General Assembly passed a voter ID law that was eventually struck down by the US Supreme Court. Many observers said then that Republicans would try again to reinstitute it, changing the framework so that if challenged in the courts again, it could pass legal muster.

            [CHARLOTTE] A pioneering black female attorney, Dovey Johnson Roundtree, died May 21 at an assisted living facility. The Charlotte-native was 104.            
            Atty Roundtree is known for fighting against segregationist laws affecting interstate bus travel while she served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Her legal career spanned nearly fifty-years, and in that time, as a criminal defense attorney, Roundtree advocated for poor African-Americans and black churches, once joking that she and her partner worked for “eggs and collard greens.” She was onvce called, “a legal aid clinic before there were legal aid clinics.” Attorney Roundtree was also a mentor to a number of talented African-American attorneys like Charles Ogletree. She once said, “I make my clients my children. I can see stars where there’s nothing but a bunch of clay.”

            [RALEIGH] Two Highway Patrol troopers and one Wake County Sheriff’s Deputy were told by a 911 operator that a black man they stopped April 3rd, and allegedly assaulted, was “10-32” (had a gun), according to a recording of radio traffic. But when Kyron Dwain Hinton, 29, was stopped that night, and eventually beaten with a flashlight and attacked by a K-9 dog, he had no weapon. The officers say Hinton was uncooperative. He suffered 20 dog bites, a broken nose and eye socket. A Wake County grand jury has indicted all three officers for assaulting Hinton. All charges against him in the incident were dropped.



Tuesday, May 15, 2018


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer
            A prominent Republican former governor has sent what some are saying is a “racist sounding”  “dog whistle” about mounting black political power in North Carolina, and at least one Democratic member of Congress has called it “appalling.”            
Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12), who represents the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area in her congressional district, was among several public officials last week outraged by former Gov. Pat McCrory’s remarks, chiding the election of so many black-elected officials to government leadership there.
“I’m worried about the segregated aspects of Charlotte-Mecklenburg politics, and lack of diversity we might have,” the Republican former governor, who many recall enthusiastically signed the 2013 law restricting early voting and instituting voter ID before it was eventually struck down, told his listeners the morning after the May 8thprimary.
            McCrory has since claimed that he was acting as a “political analyst,” and not a partisan when he expressed dismay last week on his daily WBT-AM radio show about the successful influence of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Political Caucus, and the fact that so many of the candidates it endorsed won their primaries, including candidates for sheriff and district attorney. 
            “We see now that the Black Political Caucus is the major influencer in who wins the Democratic primary,” McCrory warned.
            Arthur Griffin, chair of the Black Political Caucus, reacted by not only noting that the caucus is nonpartisan, and has endorsed many white candidates in the past. In his view, he thought McCrory’s remarks are a “…political dog whistle to say, let’s engage in this racial politics thing.”
            McCrory, who served as Charlotte’s mayor for 12 years before he was elected governor, also openly lamented that the Queen City’s current black mayor, Vy Lyles, said nothing in support of the white Democratic incumbents, like the sheriff, during the primary.
“McCrory’s comments are appalling but not very surprising,” Rep. Adams said in a statement. 
 “I wonder if the former Governor will speak up about the gerrymandering that has led to a majority Republican North Carolina General Assembly and Congressional delegation?” she asked rhetorically.
Irving Joyner, law professor at North Carolina Central University in Durham, and one of the lead attorneys who battled McCrory’s voter ID law, slammed the Republican, saying that his “feigned alarmed” was very similar to white warnings of black political progress after the Wilmington election of 1898, which resulted, then, in bloodshed against blacks.
“[His words are…] seemingly designed to arouse the attention, emotion and opposition of his extreme conservative base around the State,” Joyner said in a statement. 
“We need to be wary of similar comments by McCrory and others which have the perceived intent of polarizing political participation on the basis of race. We must be vigilant to resist a return to the "race baiting" which spearheaded political participation in 1898.  and resulted in the institution of almost 90 years of "Jim Crow" politics in North Carolina and the South.

WAFFLE HOUSE INCIDENT - Questions remain regarding the alleged incident of police brutality at the Waffle house in Warsaw May 4th, where a a video purported shows a white police officer grabbing a 22-year-old black man by his throw and throwing him down to the ground prior to arresting him. The victim, Anthony Wall, appeared at a press conference Monday with attorneys Benjamin Crump and Allen Rodgers

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Was the violent videotaped May 4tharrest of 22-year-old Anthony Wall of Fayetteville by a Warsaw police officer outside of a Warsaw Waffle House, and its aftermath, a case of excessive police force?
            Attorney Benjamin Crump, well-known nationally for his advocacy of alleged police abuse victims, says yes, and appeared with Wall, and Fayetteville attorney Allen Rogers, Monday during a press conference in front of the Cumberland County Courthouse.
            Crump says he wants to see police dash-cam video, as well as video from inside the Waffle House restaurant, to determine all of what was said and done, leading up to and including the now infamous smart-phone video that purportedly shows Warsaw Police Officer Frank Moss with his hand tightly around Wall’s throat, slamming the young man against the Waffle House store window outside, and then body slamming the young man to the parking lot pavement. 
            The video has spurred cries from no less than The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and even the daughter of late civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center in Atlanta, who tweeted upon reading a story about the incident, "Family, let's stay out of Waffle House until thecorporate office legitimately and seriously commits to 1. discussion on racism, 2. employee training and 3. other plans to change; and until they start to implement changes."
            Rev. King was referring to not just the May4th Warsaw incident, but an earlier controversy at a Waffle House in Alabama where white police officers arrested a young black woman, wrestling her to the ground, and according to video of the event, exposing her breasts while handcuffing, with one officer threatening to “break her arm” if she did not comply.
            The NAACP Legal Defense Fund called the Warsaw incident, and specifically that police officer’s alleged chokehold of Anthony Wall, “grossly inappropriate.”
            The video of what happened to Wall outside of Waffle House May 4thhas raised questions as to whether Officer Moss could have employed a far less lethal manner to subdue Wall after an allegedly boisterous confrontation between the Fayetteville man had with Waffle House staff inside the restaurant.
            Wall had escorted his 16-year-old niece to her prom, and had taken her to the restaurant afterwards to eat. However, apparently because of a busy night, all of the tables had not been cleaned for them to be seated, reportedly.
            Wall and his niece sat down at a dirty table, reportedly, and words were exchanged with a Waffle House employee.
            A video posted to the Duplin TimesFacebook page from inside the Waffle House shows a young black man closely resembling Anthony Wall, along with a young black female, both formally dressed, standing at a table, yelling and cussing at Waffle House personnel. There are other African-American teenagers in the video that also apparently attended a prom.
            The next scene in the video shows a different angle of the Officer Moss arrest of Wall. He already has the young man down on the ground, and another officer in a dark uniform is assisting in handcuffing wall before he is taken away.
            Wall was eventually charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He said he offered no resistance while being arrested outside.
            At Monday’s press conference, flanked by his attorneys, the young man alleged that he was mistreated by police personnel after his arrest, which included being thrown into a police cruiser with an aggressive K-9 police dog.
            Atty Crump indicated that a lawsuit is most likely in the offing against the Warsaw Police Dept., and most likely Waffle House, as well. He alleged that his client was the target of gay slurs from at least one Waffle House employee, thus causing the confrontation before Offer Moss arrived.
            The open question now is, once Moss did arrive after he was called by the Waffle House staff, how did he try to defuse the volatile situation, and did he consider the admittedly angry Wall such a threat, that the officer was justified in using near lethal force?
            The black mayor of Warsaw, Rev. A. J. Connor, says yes.
            In a video message last week, Mayor Connor said that Officer Moss was justified in containing young Wall in the violent manner that he did because the “…young man  had broken the law,…and refused to cooperate…”
            The mayor added that the State Bureau of Investigation in probing the matter. So is the Warsaw Police Dept.
            Officer Moss remains on the job during the course of the investigation.
            Atty Crump, a native of Lumberton, called what happened to Anthony Wall “…a gross violation of his civil and human rights.”
            In his video, Mayor Connor insisted that what happened to Anthony Wall was not “race-related.”
            But atty Crump and others disagree, asking if Anthony Wall were white, would he of been treated in the same fashion?

POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN KICKOFF - Demonstrators linked arms and blocked the flow of traffic on Jones Street in front of the NC Legislative Building Monday in an act of "direct action" civil disobedience, in concert with similar acts in 38 other state capitols Monday as part of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival [video frame courtesy of Cash Michaels]

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            In 39 state capitols Monday – from Raleigh, NC to Sacramento, California - protestors holding signs saying, “ Systematic Racism is Immoral, and “Fight Poverty, Not the Poor,” vowed to steer the nation and public policy back towards caring about the least of us.
            Organizers called it “the most expansive wave of nonviolent civil disobedience in U.S. history.”
            Then, to emphasize the point, protestors committed deliberate “direct acts” of civil disobedience, and promised more of the same over the upcoming six-week period, to put the spotlight on issues such as racial and economic injustice, militarism, and the need for affordable health care.
            The North Carolina “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival,” launched May 14thwith approximately 250 demonstrators  gathered in Bicentennial Mall across from the NC Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh, in over 90 degree heat, demanding sweeping changes in policies addressing poverty, and education.
            According to organizers, “53 people were cited for impeding the flow of traffic in front of the North Carolina General Assembly” on Jones Street  (The Raleigh Police Dept. confirmed 49 people were issued citations for the same misdemeanor offense).
            In Washington, D.C., former NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber, and Rev. Liz Theoharis, the co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign, were arrested along with hundreds of other demonstrators from across the United States. In each participating state, the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1968 unfinished Poor People’s Campaign was invoked, along with a vow to this time, see it to the end.
            “We’re living in an impoverished democracy, Rev. Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach, a sponsoring social justice organization, said. “People across the country are standing up against the lie of scarcity. We know that in the richest country in the world, there is no reason for children to go hungry, for the sick to be denied health care, and for citizens to have their votes suppressed.”
            Those who spoke Monday at the Poor People’s Campaign rally in Raleigh’s Bicentennial Plaza called for an end to repressive public policies coming from the Republican-led NC General Assembly, and the Trump Administration in Washington, D.C..
            When the time for direct action came, designated protestors locked arms, and left the Bicentennial Plaza, walking to Jones Street in front of the Legislative Building. There, under the watchful eye of State Capitol, and later Raleigh Police, participants – black, white, young, old, and even handicapped -  formed a large circle in the street, and with the exception of moving to a shaded area under a tree, stayed in the street with their arms locked, singing and chanting.
            As Raleigh Police officers asked each one to move out of the street, and they refused, they were taken, without force or handcuffs, out of the line, and walked beyond the police lines to waiting patrol cars, where they were given written citations.
            North Carolina organizers promise to repeat again next Monday, May 21st, when the Poor People’s Campaign addresses racism and immigration.


            [RALEIGH] A Wake County grand jury this week indicted a Wake Sheriff’s deputy, and two MNC State troopers for the April 3rdbeating a a 29-year-old black man, apparently for no reason. Kyron Dwain Hinton says he’s pleased that the law enforcement officers – Deputy Cameron Broadwell, and troopers Michael Blake and Tabitha Davis – were indicted with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, and willfully failing to discharge duties. 
Hinton says he was assaulted and arrested while walking home from a sweepstakes parlor late April 3rd. The arrest warrant alleged that he was pointing his hand in the air as if he’d had a gun, and ignored commands to get on the ground. The warrant also alleged that he physically resisted being handcuffed, and the deputy’s K-9 unit dog had to be used to restrain him.
But Hinton counters that he did nothing wrong, was unarmed, and was beaten up against a patrol car with their flashlights, and the dog was allowed to attack him and bite him on the arm. Hinton sustained injuries to his face, head and torso, along with a broken eye socket. All charges against him were dismissed by the Wake District Attorney’s Office. A local television station is seeking footage from the body cameras worn by gthe officers that night.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018



By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            If the May 8thprimary election is any indication, North Carolina African-American candidates will be front and center for the Nov. 6thmid-term elections later this year.
            In Greensboro, Avery Crump, 45, became not only the first woman ever to lead the Guilford County District Attorney’s Office, but certainly the first African-American female ever to do so. Crump won the Democratic primary by 53.5 percent. There is no Republican opponent for November, so unless a write-in candidate emerges, Crump, an alumna of NC Central University School of Law and former district court judge, will indeed become the next Guilford County D.A.
            In Durham, two shocking victories for the political establishment there.
            Another black woman has taken the reins of power in the county prosecutor’ office. Satana Deberry, executive director of the N.C. Housing Coalition, unseated incumbent Roger Echols, with 48.8 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
            Nichols, also an African-American, had been Durham district attorney since 2014. He garnered just 40.6 percent of the vote. Defense attorney Daniel Meier trailed with just over 10 percent.
            Deberry, also an attorney, vowed to change the culture of the Durham District Attorney’s Office if elected. Since there was no Republican primary, Deberry is effectively the new D.A. once the primary results are certified, and Echols finishes his term.
            But the primary election drama in Durham isn’t finished, as voters went to the polls and decided they needed a new sheriff.
            If the numbers hold, they voted decisively.
            Former Duke University campus police chief, Clarence Birkhead, unseated one-term incumbent Durham Sheriff Mike Andrews, 69 to 31 percent. With no Republican primary, that makes Birkhead, an African-American, the next sheriff once Andrews steps down.
            Andrews, who had a lot of traditional law enforcement support, drew heat because he was willing to work with federal ICE agents on detaining illegal immigrants for deportation. Birkhead opposed that, plus vowed to improve law enforcement’s relationship with communities of color.
            In congressional primary races involving African-Americans, Rep. G.K Butterfield had no opposition in the First, but will face a Republican opponent in the fall.
            Former state legislator Linda Coleman pulled off a Democratic primary victory in the Second Congressional District, defeating two other opponents. She will try to unseat Republican incumbent George Holding, a Trump loyalist, in November.
            And 12thDistrict Congresswoman Alma Adams not only promised to beat her three Democratic primary opponents, but make sure that they knew they were beat. She did, and will also face Republican opposition in the fall.
            Headed east to Robeson County, John Campbell, a minister and long-time local school board member, advanced in his Democratic primary race to become a state senator representing District 13 in the NC Senate. Campbell won his primary against Bobby Jacobs-Ghaffar, who had dropped out of the race in March, but whose name was still on the ballot.
            Campbell will now seek to defeat Republican state Sen. Danny Britt in November.
            In Mecklenburg County, African-American candidates also did well, with long time prosecutor Spencer Merriweather winning the Democratic primary for district attorney. He current serves as interim, and will take office in 2019.
            And former police detective Garry McFadden, who also campaigned against cooperating with ICE agents if elected, will now get his chance as the new Mecklenburg County sheriff, unseating incumbent Irwin Carmichael.
            Carmichael had been accused by local clergy of putting youthful offenders in solitary confinement in the detention center.
            With no Republicans running, McFadden will also take office in 2019.
            There were some black candidates who did fall short in the May 8thprimary across the state.
Wilmington native Rep. Rodney Moore only garnered 17 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary in Mecklenburg County, losing to Nasif Majeed. Also in Mecklenburg,  state Sen. Joel Ford lost his primary election to Mujtaba Mohammed. Mohammed will face Republican Richard Rivette in the fall.
Finally, one black victorious candidate may have celebrated a little bit too early after his dramatic victory.
Robert Williams of the Nash County town of Sharpsburg unseated incumbent Mayor Randy Weaver by just seven votes primary night. But reportedly, Williams allegedly almost caused a vehicular crash near city hall, resulting in his being charged with DWI.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            With many proud, happy African-American families coming together to celebrate graduations from several of North Carolina’s finest historically black college and universities this month like NC A&T University in Greensboro and North Carolina Central University in Durham, the last thing anyone will be thinking about is how much debt they owe after four years of higher education.
            But according to a just released report, they probably should.
            The report, “Racial Disparities in Student Loan Debt and the Reproduction of The Fragile Black Middle Class” by Jason n. Houle and Fenaba Addo at the Center for Demography and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, paints in startling terms a disturbing fact – there is a huge gap in the disparity between black and white student debt, and it is growing. 
            Indeed the report states, “…the burden of rising debt is racialized, and is disproportionately shouldered by students of color, and particularly black youth.”
            And, “These disparities are large and then they grow over time.”
            Several studies in recent years confirmed that the overall wealth divide between African-Americans and whites had widened in recent years, particularly per a Pew Research Center study in June 2016.
            “In 2014, the median household income foe whites was $71,300, compared to $43,000 for blacks. But for college-educated whites, the median household was $106,600, significantly higher than the $82,300 for households headed by college-educated blacks,” the Pew report found.
            Now add on the new study on the racial disparity in student loan debt.
            According to the University of Wisconsin – Madison study:
-      Black students rely on private loans more than white students, so they’re paying higher interest rates and higher loan fees, meaning that they’re carrying higher default risks.
-      Black students are most likely to be directed towards high-risk, predatory, high-interest loans that are normally designed to be difficult to pay back
-      Black students are more likely to attend “predatory for-profit” schools or under-funded institutions, many of which have “high levels of debt accumulation…and high drop-out rates.”

The report leaves little doubt that whatever economic gains African-Americans
 garnered prior to the last Great Recession were lost when many black families their homes and overall wealth. And despite the recent slow, but steady economic recovery in the nation, African-Americans have not been able to keep pace in that recovery with their white counterparts, and are not likely to anytime in the near future.
            The report shows that the racial disparity in student debt grows by 6.8 percent each year. Thus, young African-Americans “…hold 10.4 percent less wealth average that their white counterparts due to differences in student-loan debt,” according to MarketWatch.

CUTLINE  - Rev. Corine Mack (front),m president of the Charlotte – Mecklenburg NAACP, is flanked by other area clergy, and former inmates, during last week’s press conference in front of the Mecklenburg County Detention Center, demanding an end to solitary confinement in jails (Photo by Cash Michaels)

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            The NC American Civil Liberties Union said it amounted to “torture” two years ago.
            Before he left office, Pres. Obama outlawed the practice when it came to youth offenders being held in federal custody.
            Even the state of North Carolina has indicated that it would limit the practice in its prisons, after it was determined that some targeted inmates had spent upwards of a decade in detained isolation.
            And yet, law enforcement officials maintain that placing prisoners in solitary confinement in local county jails, is an invaluable tool to maintain safety, and order in unpredictable inmate populations.
            “Charlotte faith leaders have received multiple firsthand reports of mistreatment by jail staff,’ charged Rev. Amantha Barbee, representing the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice, opening a press conference of clergy and former inmates May 3rdin front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg detention center.
            “There have been eyewitness reports of abuse of power, including one man being held in solitary confinement for 60 days.”
            “This is unjust, Rev. Barbee maintained. “This is inhumane.”
            Sebastian Goodson, a former inmate who spent over 13 years in state and federal prisons, says he personally knows just how “inhuman” solitary confinement is.
            “I know the mental pain that it causes,” Goodson told those gathered. “You don’t know the feeling, until you’ve been in there. It’s like the belly of the beast.”
            Recent studies have shown that many prisoners held in solitary confinement over long period of time, do develop later psychological problems that stay with them once they’re released back into the community.
            But law enforcement officials tell a different story in defending what they say is the need for isolating prisoners – young or old – in certain circumstances.
            “I think all jails and prisons are going to have some form of that,” said Major C. J. Williams, Court Services commander for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Dept. 
            “There’s a broad category for when you say segregation, or isolation. Let’s say a person comes in and has a communicable disease? We have medical isolation. Obviously that person cannot be around other inmates.”
            “We have disciplinary segregation,” Major Williams continued. “After a person ha had a hearing, and violated some infraction, they can be placed on disciplinary segregation for 14 days, and then they have another review.”
            Williams added the Guilford County does not do “…long-term segregation,” but they do implement protective custody procedures if it becomes apparent that an inmate’s life is at risk.
            “So you have to be careful,” the major continued. “There’s a broad spectrum of segregations, local jails being different from prisons.”
            The sheriff departments for Durham, Wake, New Hanover were also contacted for this story, but did not respond by press time Tuesday.
            And after the press conference last Thursday, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael “adamantly denied” that inmates in his jails were being mistreated.
            But earlier in the week, the sheriff did confirm that “…youthful offenders are kept in a Disciplinary Detention Unit…” if they have threatened a guard or caused any trouble.
Rev. Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP, said she and other clergy were seeking justice, and an end to solitary confinement, especially for youthful inmates, because they have not developed all of their cognitive skills, and can be the most damaged.
            “Imagine the effect on that child?” she rhetorically asked during the Thursday presser.
            “This is not about punishing. This is not about harming,” Rev. Mack continued. “This should be about how do we find ways to help those children to begin to rollback into society, and be good and viable citizens.”