Monday, September 30, 2019


by Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

For the third time in the past ten years, the NC NAACP has file a motion in federal court against Governor Roy Cooper and the state of North Carolina seeking a preliminary injunction “…prohibiting the enforcement of a North Carolina law that requires photo voter ID and vastly increases the number of authorized poll observers—Senate Bill 824 (“SB 824”)—because it violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) by discriminating against Black and Latino voters.”
The motion, file Sept. 17th, recounts how previously, “…House Bill 589 (“HB 589”), was enacted in 2013 and was struck down by the [U.S.] Fourth Circuit [Court of Appeals] , which found that it intentionally discriminated against voters of color.”
“The court of appeals called it “the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow,” the new motion continued, “ and said it “target[ed] African Americans” for voter suppression “with almost surgical precision.”
It was after Republicans in the NC General assembly last their supermajority in November 2018 that they called a special lame duck session, and hurriedly passed HB 824, establishing a voter ID law, based on passage of a constitutional amendment ratified by voters.
“The law now before the Court—SB 824—is a barely disguised duplicate of HB 589, carries the same discriminatory intent as its predecessor, and likewise fails to remedy its racially disparate impacts,” the motion continues. “It is intended, like HB 589 before it, to suppress the Black and Latino vote, just as those voters were achieving near parity with white registration and turnout rates and otherwise emerging as major political forces.”
The motion notes that Republican legislative leaders rested the Fourth Circuit ruling.
“Indeed, General Assembly leaders, including Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, and lead House sponsor David Lewis—all of whom were instrumental in enacting HB 589—never accepted the Fourth Circuit’s holding in McCrory and made clear their intention to work around it,” the NC NAACP motion for preliminary injunction continued.
And without missing a bet, the motion invokes the controversial mapmaking of Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller, “…who has recently gained notoriety for his work in the field of racial gerrymandering. 
“In North Carolina, the General Assembly relied on Dr. Hofeller’s analysis as the basis for illegally gerrymandered House and Senate maps that a state court struck down earlier this month, “concluding that he had used racial statistics to shape his maps despite public claims to the contrary.” 
“As the New York Times has reported,’  the motion continued, “…is now apparent that “[m]ore than any other state, North Carolina was shaped politically by Mr. Hofeller’s talents. A trove of files [reviewed by the paper's reporters] shows his involvement in virtually every aspect of the State Legislature’s effort to promote and defend Republican control.” And “[r]ace was a [a] constant of Mr. Hofeller’s work in the state. . . .”  
“Of critical import to this case, while the evidence is still emerging, it appears likely that his use of race to shape North Carolina election laws to preserve Republican advantage also infected the General Assembly’s efforts to craft voter ID laws.”
“North Carolina cannot possibly implement SB 824 in a nondiscriminatory way in the short time the State has given itself to implement the law (and has given its voters to procure identification that meets its requirements). At minimum, a preliminary injunction should issue delaying the law’s implementation until after the March 2020 elections to prevent the unlawful disparate impact that will arise out of its hasty implementation.”
The motion concluded, “For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiffs request that this Court enter a preliminary injunction against the implementation of the provisions of SB 824 that impose voter- identification requirements, that expand the number of poll observers, and that loosen eligibility requirement for people who can challenge ballots in the March 2020 elections pending the outcome of a trial on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims.”
As of press time Monday, there was no response from the State to the NCNAACP motion for preliminary injunction.


[RALEIGH] Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, refused to rule in a NC partisan gerrymandering case involving 13 congressional districts drawn by the legislature’s Republican majority, saying that federal courts have no place doing so. Last Friday, another lawsuit was filed, this time in state court, again challenging North Carolina’s 13 congressional voting districts based on partisan gerrymandering. But this time, plaintiffs alleged that the maps violate the state constitution. There is no question the ruling from a three-judge panel in state court last month, invalidating NC legislative districts as partisan gerrymanders, has encouraged these new plaintiffs that they may see similar success with this new suit. Republican legislative leaders say they will contest it.

[GREENVILLE] The interim chancellor of East Carolina University has been placed on administrative leave by the UNC System interim president after videos n pictures of him drinking and dancing at a nearby bar for ECU students was made public a few days ago. Chancellor Dan Gerlach reportedly could be seen “chugging alcohol” and “putting his arms around women” while dancing. He was also taking selfies with students. Gerlach will remain on leave until an investigation is completed. In a statement, Gerlach said he felt it was important for the leader of the university to be “approachable” to students.

[CHARLOTTE] Talk show hostess/actress Oprah Winfrey shocked those attending the 17th Annual Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon Saturday, when she announced that she would match $1.15 million already raised for deserving students to attend historically black  colleges and universities, pushing the United Negro College Fund event figure to $2.3 million. 
I believe in the power of education,” Winfrey said.“There is nothing better than to open the door for someone.”


                                                          JAZMYNE CHILDS
                                                       REV. CURTIS GATEWOOD
                                               DESMERA GATEWOOD

The Rev. Curtis Gatewood, publicly accused of sexually harassing a female member of the NC NAACP he was assigned to supervise in 2017, has denied the allegation, while his daughter and members of the Alamance County NAACP have blasted former NC NAACP president Rev. Dr. William Barber, and current NC NAACP leader, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, of orchestrating the controversy a week before the Oct. 5th
election for a new president.
Gatewood was a candidate in that race against Rev. Spearman, until national NAACP President/CEO Derrick Johnson sent him a Sept. 26th letter, formally suspending Gatewood’s membership pending a still as-yet unscheduled hearing.
“You are directed to cease and desist immediately from holding yourself out as a member of the NAACP, Johnson wrote. “Because candidates for State Conference office must be members in good standing of the Association, you are ineligible to run for such office unless and until your membership is restored.
An outraged Desmera Gatewood, Rev. Gatewood’s daughter, held a Sept. 27th press conference, along with members of the Alamance County NAACP, declaring that the sexual harassment allegation against her father re no only not true, but deviously planned to derail Rev. Gatewood’s election to the civil rights organization’s presidency.
An election she said her father was “poised to win.”
Adding that she is a victim of sexual harassment and domestic violence, Desmera Gatewood added, “This has been very difficult for me to watch narratives like mine used as political opportunism.”
For his part, Rev. Gatewood told the Associated Press, “The allegations are totally false,” and blamed Rev. Dr. William Barber for orchestrating the controversy to benefit incumbent NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Spearman.
This is the second time in 20 years that Rev. Gatewood has been suspended by the national NAACP. He was sanctioned previously when he was president of the Durham NAACP for involvement in a dispute with then NC NAACP Pres. Melvin “Skip” Alston in the late 1990s.
Gatewood was publicly identified  by former NC NAACP Youth & College Director Jazmyne Childs as allegedly sexually harassing her in 2017 as her supervisor. During a tearful Sept. 25th press conference, where she was surrounded by supporters who called themselves the “Elder Women of the NC NAACP,” along with Rev. Barber, Ms. Childs detailed how Gatewood allegedly pressed himself against her from behind in a darkened room, in addition to speaking suggestively to her on the phone on another occasion.
Making clear that Gatewood’s alleged attention was unwanted, she resigned  from the civil rights organization.
Rev. Barber had her allegations investigated and confirmed by an employment attorney. 
Last week, after the national NAACP formally suspended Rev. Gatewood, Ms. Childs, through her attorney, told the Associated Press called it a “bittersweet victory.”
Unlike Rev. Barber, the national office waited two years before even acknowledging Childs’ complaint, and the only did anything once Ms. Childs’ supporters, the Elder Women of the NC NAACP, made her case public, and threatened to take their fight to national NAACP headquarters in Baltimore, Md.
Contrary to a previously published report, before he could be terminated prior to completion of the five-month-long inquiry, Rev. Gatewood resigned his position with the NCNAACP.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


By Cash Michaels
Staff writer

There seems to be little question in the minds of those who oppose the possible sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) by the N.H. County Board of Commissioners that the cost of heath care would go up, and the quality of health care, as a result, would go down.
NHRMC is the largest county-owned hospital system in the state, that generates $1 billion annually in New Hanover county’s economy, and contributes “…$145 million annually to the care for the poor,” according to the website.
Among the many voices of concern expressing that beyond the N.H. County NAACP, state Senator Harper Peterson and others, is clinical medical assistant Isla Speller.
Ms. Speller, a native of Wilmington who has worked locally in the health care field for over 30 years (14 of which were at NHRMC), told  The Wilmington Journal shortly after the NHC Board of commissioners approved a controversial resolution to solicit RFPs (Requests for Proposals) to purchase NHRMC, that African American and other poor people living in the seven-county region that NHRMC serves, would be greatly affected if it sold.
“I’m heartbroken about it, Ms. Speller, an African-American, told The Journal by phone exclusively Saturday. “As a health care provider, I’ve always given my heart, my skill, my passion. If they privatize the hospital, the quality of care, love and dedication would be lost.”
“We would become a number, and not a patient.”
Ms. Speller went on to remind that The Journal that, NHRMC belongs to the people.
Per the history of NHRMC according to it’s online page at, it was by 1857 after both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, that the federal government commissioned Scottish builder James Walker to construct a hospital in the county. Meanwhile in 1881, the NC General Assembly authorized the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County to build a joint hospital called “City-County Hospital.” In 1888, a separate building was opened for black patients. 
During the 1898 race massacre, many injured black men were treated at City-County Hospital, which soon closed to make way for James Walker Memorial Hospital.
In 1902. Walker Memorial Hospital opened with a “colored annex,” but “access to care was not equal,” primarily because it was opened just a few years after the 1898 Wilmington race massacre.
Black doctors were forced to open Community Hospital in 1921 for black patients.
By 1947, Walker Memorial was considered outdated, and the county was asked for funds to update, but refused to comply. The N.H. County Board refused again in 1953. In 1957, four white physicians came together to open private Cape Fear Memorial Hospital.
The following year, voters were asked to fund the building of a new hospital. Black leaders opposed, however, not trusting white leaders to deliver am integrated hospital. In November, 1961, African-American voters came out and supported construction of a new hospital.
Less than six years later, New Hanover Memorial Hospital opened the same day outdated Walker Memorial closed. The black hospital, Community, also closed after 43 years. Since then, NHMH evolved into NHRMC, merging with Cape Fear Memorial, and acquiring other local health service providers.
“We built that hospital,” Isla Speller insists, referring to New Hanover County voters. “We need to fight for our hospital, because we built that hospital.”
So NHRMC today, according to the hospital’s own website, was born when New Hanover County’s black voters approved construction of New Hanover Medical Hospital in 1961, with the promise that African-Americans would be given access to the same facilities and medical services as whites.
Isla Speller says African Americans have made an historic investment in NHRMC almost 60 years ago with a vote that brought vital medical services to all citizens, and will certainly be affected if it is ultimately sold.
“How will those be served with no [health insurance]?” She asked rhetorically. “Will all insurance be accepted? We fought for the right for all patients to be treated equally regardless of their skin color. Or cultural background.”
Ms. Speller warns that if NHRMC is turned into a private hospital, it can decide whether it wants tp serve an indigent population that is covered by Medicare.
Speller insists that NHRMC is not the county commission board’s to sell. “It belongs to the people,’ she insists. The board was just “..entrusted with it.”

Ms. Speller recommends that the community seek legal advice, as state Sen. Harper Peterson has by filing a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office last week.
“It’s so unfair, and it’s heartbreaking,” she said.
Potential buyers fir NHRMC will have 60 days to submit their RFP  bids.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

The former longtime president of the NC NAACP has issued a statement saying that he “stands” with the “integrity-filled women elders” of the state chapter of the nation’s oldest civil rights movement in their demand to have a member accused of sexual harassment removed from the organization.
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, currently the co-chair of The Poor People’s Campaign, issued his statement after the “Elder Women of the North Carolina NAACP,”  held a press conference Sept. 18th at Trinity AME Zion Church in Greensboro vowed that “…we can no longer stand in the shadows,” noting that many of them have been victims of past sexual harassment themselves.
Allegedly that two years ago, an unnamed supervisor in the state NAACP office was accused of sexual harassment by a young female field organizer. Rev. Barber, who was president at the time, had the accusation fully investigated by an employment attorney and law professor, and, after a five-month probe, confirmed it. That was enough to have the supervisor fired, but he was still an NAACP member.
According to national NAACP bylaws, only the national NAACP can formally and legally remove an NAACP member for cause. But the women Elders say the national office never did, even though all internal efforts were being exhausted.
Having the former supervisor still attend various NCNAACP events as a member was disturbing to the alleged victim and those who supported her, the elders said. They petitioned Derrick Johnson, president/CEO of the national NAACP, to remove the member. But thus far, nothing has happened.
“I agree with these women,” Rev. Barber said in his statement released Friday. I support their efforts and their unwavering call for action. This has gone on too long and if those who have power act do so, we will be stronger because of their call to action.”
Reportedly, while the NCNAACP has a policy against sexual harassment, the national NAACP does not, even though, as an organization, it pushed Congress in 2018  to pass legislation outlawing the practice in the workplace.
Several of the Women Elders at the Greensboro press conference, including O’Linda Watkins - McSurely, president of the Moore County NAACP, Anna Richards, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, and Ana Blackburn of the State NAACP, said that if they don’t see resolution of the situation soon, in addition to a new policy addressing sexual harassment from the national NAACP, that they will organize a bus trip to the Baltimore headquarters, and hold a press conference there to ratchet up pressure.
“What we know is that we can no longer stand in the shadows,” said NCNAACP board member Rev. Toneyla Rawls of Charlotte.
Rev. Barber, though he is a former president of the NCNAACP, is still a member of the national NAACP Board of Directors.
“As a member of the National Board,” he said in his Friday statement, “I intend to stand with this call and work with these powerful women representing some of North Carolina’s finest leaders…”

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

One of North Carolina’s two African American representatives in the U.S. Congress has now pledged his support for Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden.
However, that endorsement comes amid growing concerns that the former vice president’s popularity among older African Americans does not translate to younger black voters, who polls show prefer less traditional politics.
Seven-term Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1) - a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus -  formally endorsed Biden last week, telling the Associated Press, “He can connect with the average American — black, white or brown,” said Butterfield, arguing that [Sen. Bernie] Sanders and [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren could threaten Democrats’ prospects to defeat an unpopular Republican incumbent. “Warren and Sanders cannot win North Carolina,” Butterfield said, because their policies veer too far left. “I have great respect for both of them, but they cannot win North Carolina. Joe Biden can.”
Congressman Butterfield’s North Carolina colleague, Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), has said that she will endorse the Democratic candidate who pledges to support historically black colleges and universities.
According to published reports, despite Butterfield’s view that Joe Biden is a politically safe Democratic candidate for president, it is exactly because Biden, 76, is a centrist, that younger voters dismiss him, even though he is well liked and regarded for serving under the nation’s first African American President Barack Obama for eight years.
Biden’s moderate positions on affordable healthcare, college debt, or tackling climate change, fly in the face of successful progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who defeated a 10-term moderate incumbent Democrat to win office in 2018.
The future of the Democratic Party is clear, and Biden is in the way,” said in an April 2019 online article, “Why Joe Biden’s Centrism a Liability.”
And then, despite Biden’s proven popularity with older black voters, and his strong pronouncements against white supremacy, his history when it comes to matters of race raises questions, critics say.
Biden’s admission that, as a young U.S. senator from Delaware in the 1970’s, he sought compromise with virulently racist senators from the Deep South on several issues.
Indeed during their first 2-19 Democratic debate, opponent Sen. Kamala Harris confronted Biden on his stated opposition to school busing during the 1970s.
And Biden is also remembered as being a key sponsor of the 1994 Crime Bill, which many say helped to imprison a generation of black people wholesale.
With the Democratic primaries starting just months away, recent polls show Joe Biden still with a significant lead over closest rivals senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, but that lead is faltering.
Still, Biden is garnering significant black establishment support, with two other former Congressional Black Caucus chairs, reps. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) and Cedric Richmond (D-LA), also throwing their support to the former vice president.
They, like others, cite Joe Biden’s “electability,” and ability to defeat current Republican President Donald Trump.


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] All three Democratic congressional members are now on record as to backing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call Monday for a formal impeachment inquiry into Pres. Donald Trump’s actions pertaining to a July telephone call with the president of the Ukraine. According to a whistleblower, Trump allegedly tried to pressure the official for dirt on 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden. The president says he did nothing wrong. Reps. Alma Adams, G.K. Butterfield and David Price have now all backed Pelosi’s announcement. The formal inquiry is expected to look at not just that, but previous allegations of wrongdoing by Trump.

[WILMINGTON] Gov. Roy Cooper, after touring  coastal damage by Hurricane Dorian on Monday, has asked Pres. Trump for additional federal assistance for New Hanover, Carteret, Dare, and Hyde. “We are working to get people who are recovering from Dorian the help they need,” the governor told reporters.. “Dorian’s flood waters and its winds damaged many homes, and we are requesting federal assistance to recover.” Cooper is asking for FEMA Individual Assistance, grants to residents who suffered damage.

[RALEIGH] The NC Highway Patrol has announced that despite allegations of improprieties with it’s promotions process, it will “move forward as is’ after not finding any evidence of such. The Patrol confirmed that an internal probe was underway July 28 after receiving a complaint that the process had been “compromised.” All promotions were temporarily suspended during the investigation. However, a graduate student at NC State University involved with proctoring the promotions tests, reportedly “prematurely released promotion scores and rankings.” That graduate student is no longer affiliated with the process.


Monday, September 16, 2019


By Cash Michaels
Staff writer

There is growing community concern about the possible sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) to a private company after the NHC County Commissioners Monday approved “an intent to sell” resolution to officially start the process of at least exploring it’s options. 
If such a sale were to occur, critics of the sale say the quality of care will diminish in favor of maximizing profits, and that would be disastrous for the seven-county regional that NHRMC currently serves.
One of the most concerned is state Senator Harper Peterson, and in a Sept. 16th complaint to the NC Attorney General’s Office against the county commission board, Peterson alleges “…their failure to fully inform and openly engage the citizens of New Hanover County in the decision making process regarding the potential sale of the publicly owned hospital.”
In his complaint, Peterson makes clear that NHMRC is a “charitable nonprofit corporation that is publicly held by the citizens (taxpayers) of New Hanover.”
The county commissioners hold the responsibility of appointing  members to NHMRC’s Board of Trustees.
In his complaint, despite denials by county officials that they are actively seeking to sell the hospital, approving the resolution allow the county to issue an RFP, or “Request for Proposal” from private entities interested in purchasing the hospital, whose estimated value could go as high as $1 billion, according to published reports.
County officials admit that a possible sale could pump hundreds of millions of dollars into New Hanover to help improve schools, and other needs.
Peterson says under state statute and per the guidelines outlined, “…a sale could be considered and consummated within 90 days at the “absolute and sole discretion” of the NHC Commission.”
Peterson cites concerns by “hundreds of citizens” “that the process is being rushed.” He also notes that certain commissioners “…have publicly expressed a desire to sell…” the hospital, as well as other troubling indicators.
These actions lead me to believe that a deal is already in the works and that a perspective buyer(s) could potentially dictate the terms of a sale agreement. This will not be in the best interest of the seven (7) counties that NHRMC serves, nor will it be in the best interest of the over 7000 employees of the hospital, and certainly not in the best interest of the scores of nonprofit community health service groups that work with and supplement the hospital’s mission,” Sen. Peterson wrote in his complaint.
But Peterson goes further.
He also alleges that  “ There is NO clear legal record of what entity, NHC or NHRMC, actually owns the multiple properties, buildings, equipment, assets, etc. comprising NHRMC. This determination is of paramount importance, as state law…specifically directs how, and by who, proceeds from a potential sale or lease of NHMRC will be handled…”
“NHC has publicly stated that any proceeds from a sale could be used for ANY purpose it feels appropriate, health related or not,” he continued. “I interpret the law quite differently, whereby “any distribution of assets shall be to a tax exempt organization whose purposes are consistent with the purposes of the existing corporation.”
“This has led me to believe that the NHC Commission has NOT done their due diligence; specifically what properties they own and what properties NHRMC owns, what are the tax and market values of all the NHRMC “campus” properties, what other types of buyers, for profit, NFP, operating profiles, terms and conditions that would be desirable, etc. that will be included in a RFP,” Sen. Petersen further alleges. “I also believe that NHC has misinterpreted state statute requirements regarding any and all proceeds from a sale and that this will only complicate this initiative.”
Peterson continued, “There is no record of a public discussion or decision by the NHC Commission to consider a matter of such enormous consequence; the potential sale of NHRMC, no record of directing the County Manager to spearhead this initiative, no record of directing the County Manager to so closely partner with NHRMC’s CEO to manage and message this initiative and speculation on its far reaching consequences.”
“This has led me to believe that there may be malfeasance on the part of an individual(s) within New Hanover County Government. The County Manager serves at the NHC Commission’s pleasure and does NOT act independently. Someone or somebody is acting improperly and outside their legal bounds.”
Seeing need for an immediate investigation, Sen. Peterson asks the state Attorney General’s Office to for A review of all actions, internal communications, outside contracts and contacts, and clandestine relationships by NHC and NHRMC relevant to this matter, prior to and after July 23rd, is warranted.
Going forward, your attention, oversight and corrective action with regards to this extraordinary decision our community is presently considering is needed NOW!
        NHC NAACP Pres. Deborah Dicks Maxwell tells the Journal that "We do not like the sale at all. Not enough transparency in the process."

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

Any Democratic presidential candidate who pledges solid support for HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) if he or she wins the White House in 2020, will have the backing of North Carolina Congresswoman Alma Adams.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Democrat, who is co-chair and founder of the Bipartisan Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus in Congress,  made that clear Monday in a statement from her office Monday. 
Months before the first primaries begin, the top four Democrat presidential candidates remain for Vice Presidential Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and California Sen. Kamala Harris.
As of last week’s Democrat debate, held on the campus of HBCU Texas-Southern University featuring the top ten candidates, only Sen. Harris has prominently promised to support HBCU’s with more federal funding if elected. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Rep. Adams, an alumna of NC A&T University who retired from Bennett College for Women prior to being elected to Congress, lauded the various candidates for their positions on  introducing a more comprehensive health care plan, and promoting more affordable housing,
“Unfortunately, HBCU’s and educational equity have been left out of the conversation,”Adams opined in a “Dear Colleague” letter to all of the Democratic candidates.
“This is why it is essential that HBCU’s be a key part of your platform. The candidate I endorse for president  will have a plan that levels the playing field for HBCU’s and centers educational equity, from Pre - K through college.
And then Rep. Adams made clear that despite lots of lip service since he took office, Pres. Donald Trump “…has failed HBCU’s and their students.
“[The Trump Administration’s] HBCU Summit turned our schools into a photo op, and their HBCU Initiative has gone nowhere,” she wrote. “Our schools are too important  for political games. Attacking these schools is not the strike at our values and our traditions.”
As in most modern day presidential elections, the black vote is seen as vital to whatever Democrat presidential candidate hopes to win in November 2020. At the same token, there is evidence that Republicans - in an effort to re-elect Pres. Donald Trump - hope to find ways to limit black voter turnout for his still undetermined Democratic opponent, and at the same time improve his popularity among African Americans by touting a better economy for all under his administration.
Trump has cited a lower black employment rate since he came into office. Democrats counter that many of Trump’s racially biased policies negate whatever positive gains have been made in the job market.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer
During the week when Republican legislative leaders are under court order to turn over newly redrawn nonpartisan voting district maps to a state three-judge panel that had ruled their previous maps were unconstitutional, Rev. Dr. William Barber, former president of the NCNAACP,  says “We’ve won too many victories for folks to stay home.”
Dr. Barber refers to the fact that at least four times since 2011, either a state or federal court has struck down a redistricting map produced by North Carolina ’s Republican legislative majority, either for racial gerrymandering, or just two weeks ago, extreme partisan gerrymandering.
In the last state court ruling, one Republican and two Democratic judges found GOP lawmakers guilty of “…specifically and systematically designing the contours of the election districts for partisan purposes and a desire to preserve power.”
The fact that the federal and state courts have repeatedly found the GOP in violation for attempting to suppress the black vote, should confirm to the community just how important their vote actually is, and that per the upcoming 2019 local elections, and crucial 2020 state and federal elections, people need to show up to vote in unprecedented numbers, now that state voting districts should be more fairly drawn.
That three-judge panel is expected to evaluate the newly redrawn maps - ratified by the state House last week, and the state Senate this week - by the Sept. 18th deadline - and once certified as passing constitutional muster, put in place in time for the 2020 state legislative races.
Dr. Barber says those who have been disenfranchised by previous voter suppression attempts by the GOP, must take advantage of this victory now, hard fought for by the attorneys for Common Cause of NC, Forward Justice,  the NC NAACP and others.
“Last time in 2016, Donald Trump won [North Carolina] by 160,000 votes. 550,000 African Americans who are registered to vote, chose not to go,” said Barber.
“We’ve won too many victories for people to stay home,” He continued. “We have proven that [Sen. Thom] Tillis when he was leading the legislature, engaged in racist voter suppression. We should remember that when we go to the polls.”
“When these districts get redrawn, North Carolinians of every creed, race and color, to turn out like never before,” Dr. Barber said.
“if we can get a 70-75% turnout….I’d like a 100%, , but give me 70-75%, we can turn this state around, and begin to put it in the right direction, so we can get a living wage, an health care, and more money for public education, and take care of the most vulnerable people in out state.”
“We won in the court,” Dr. Barber concluded. “Now, let’s win at the ballot box.’

[WILMINGTON] The Wilmington City Council Monday approved the naming of Third Street between Market and Davis streets, after native and civil rights activist Joseph McNeil. McNeill, a Williston Senior High alumnus,  is best known as being one of the Greensboro Four - four black students of North Carolina A&T University who in Feb. 1960, walked into an F. W. Woolworth store in downtown Greensboro, and integrated the lunch count there. The action is credited with helping to spark the ’60s cib=vil rights movement.  The NC General Assembly still needs to approve the measure

[RALEIGH] The State Conference of the NAACP Tuesday evening filed a motion for preliminary injunction with the US District Court for the Middle District “…preventing [Governor Cooper and the NC legislature] from putting into effect the challenged provisions of Senate Bill 824” which requires that “in-person voters present one of a limited number of forms of qualifying photographic identification,” among other new voter ID requirements. The motion cites that Black and Latino voters in the state of North Carolina  will be denied their right to vote.

[GREENSBORO] With Middle East tensions brewing after an alleged Iranian drone attack on two major Saudi Arabian oil refineries, gas prices in the United States, and specifically North Carolina, have already begun to climb. The attacks have temporarily cut Saudi oil production, from which some American gasoline comes from. AAA of the Carolinas says expect prices at the pump to balloon as much as 25 cents per gallon  by the end of the month. The national price for gasoline was already $2.59 per gallon.  In North Carolina, $2.36. It’s already as high as $2.55 in Wake County, jumping late Monday after news of the drone attacks spread.


[OXFORD] Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday on two counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly ordering the murder of a former deputy because that person was going to expose the sheriff’s alleged use of racist language. According to the indictment, Sheriff Brindell told the alleged hit man in a recording to “take care of it” and “the only way you gonna stop him is kill him.” The alleged target was former Deputy Joshua Freeman, who was fired by Wilkins in August 2014.  According to Wake District Attorney Lorrin freeman, who is prosecuting the five-year-old case, Sheriff Wilkins is being charged with obstruction, instead of conspiracy to commit murder, because the obstruction case is easier to prove. Both the FBI and SBI have been involve in probing the case.  The DA for Granville County handed the case over to Wake County so that he could be a witness at trial.

Monday, September 9, 2019



[CHARLOTTE] Thanks to last minute campaigning by both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Republicans running for congressional sets in both North Carolina’s 3rd and 9th Congressional Districts won their  special elections Tuesday night. In the 3rd, Greg Murphy (R-Pitt) easily won with 62 percent of the vote over former Greenville mayor Democrat Allen Thomas. In the controversial 9th, where a ballot fraud probe is still underway, conservative state Sen. Dan Bishop won a slim victory over once-leading Democrat Dan McCready, 50 to 49%.

[RALEIGH] While Gov. Roy Cooper and several state House members were attending the NC National Guard Sept. 11th Commemoration, Republican Speaker Tim Moore pushed through a surprise vote - 55 to 9 - with just 64 of 120 members present to override Cooper’s veto on the budget proposal that does not extended Medicaid coverage. Republicans had been stymied by Democrats who refused to vote with them in the past. Democrats objected to vote, primarily because they had been told that no vote would be taken. “How dare you Mr. Speaker?” Opined Rep. Deb Butler (D-NH). “The trickery that is being evidenced by this morning is tantamount to a criminal offense.”

OUTER BANKS CLEANING UP AFTER HURRICANE DORIAN [OUTER BANKS] Hurricane Dorian, once a dangerous Category Five storm that devastated the Bahama Islands last week, caused some mild flooding in mainland North Carolina, including Wilmington, but then ransacked the Outer Banks as a Category One storm, spawning tornadoes that destroyed homes and businesses in Dare County. Many residents were trapped in their homes because of flooding they’d never seen before. Volunteer workers are now helping to reopen businesses and clear debris.  

                                   SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER SEN. DAN BLUE

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

With only two court-mandated weeks to complete the job, the redistricting committees of the state House and Senate began Monday redrawing the 2017 legislative redistricting maps a NC three-judge Superior Court panel ruled last week were unconstitutionally partisan gerrymanders in the case Common Cause v. Lewis.
Republican legislative leaders, like Senate Pro-Tem Sen. Phil Berger, decided not to appeal the decision, realizing that doing so would send it straight to the NC Supreme Court, which is 6-1 Democrat, where the GOP would probably lose again.
The judicial panel made it crystal clear in it’s stringent ruling that there will be new remedial voting maps in time for the 2020 elections, meaning if primary dates have to be rescheduled, then so be it. The new maps are to be completed by state lawmakers by Sept. 17th. The panel - two Democrats and one Republican - have also mandated that no partisan information can be used to redrawing the maps, all work must be done in public, and a referee who has the power to reject what he sees and redraw lawmakers’ finished product, will oversee the work.
During the state Senate Redistricting Committee meeting, Senate Minority Democratic leader Sen. Dan Blue said, “ I think that what the court has concluded is that our ability to use technology has exceeded our use of democracy ,” referring to how the Republican legislative majority drew voting maps by computer that garnered  the GOP a legislative partisan advantage that was eventually deemed unconstitutional.
There was already controversy Monday when Republican lawmakers recommended that conservative leader Art Pope serve as a co-referee in the process. Plaintiffs in the case rejected Pope, saying that he served as co-counsel in 2011 when the original racial gerrymandered voting maps were drawn by the Republican legislative majority. 
This voting maps were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and thrown out. They were later replaced by the partisan gerrymandered maps, which were ruled unconstitutional by the three judge panel last week.
The court’s ruling affected 28 counties in House maps, and 21 in the Senate. Information on incumbency is allowed to be used in the remedial maps to prevent the double-bunking of two already elected state lawmakers in the same district.
In the House, the redrawing affects Brunswick-New Hanover counties; Guilford and Mecklenburg counties, among others.
At the beginning of the process, redistricting committee members were leaning towards using the base maps of expert Jowei Chen from the University of Michigan. Chen was a witness against the Republicans during the two-week trial that resulted in the three-judge panel ruling. Chen has reportedly created approximately 1,000 nonpartisan legislative maps for lawmakers to choose from.
The public can watch the proceedings being streamed at
Meanwhile, reaction to the historic redistricting decision continued to come in.
“We are encouraged by this tremendous ruling,” said NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman. “The fact that there were no dissenting parties is an indication that we have witnessed what happens when courts operate fairly; when all partisan interest is removed from the table we are well on our way to a season of democracy. 
“The three-judge panel made its decision based on the undisputed fact that the Republican General Assembly deliberately manipulated legislative districts to provide a political advantage to Republican candidates,” said U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield. 

Monday, September 2, 2019


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

A three-judge panel Sept 3rd ruled unanimously Tuesday that North Carolina’s legislative voting districts drawn in 2017 were ‘unlawful partisan gerrymanders, and struck them down as unconstitutional.
Twenty-eight North Carolina counties are affected in the state House, and 21 in the state Senate by this ruling.
The court ordered new maps be drawn by the Republican-led NC legislature before the 2020 elections, and if a mapmaker outside of the legislature is hired, that he be approved by the court first.
State lawmakers have until Sept. 18 to have new maps for the state House and Senate drawn and submitted.
The court also ordered that mapmaking process must be done in “full public view.” A special referee will be appointed by the court to oversee the process, and if he rejects lawmakers map, could redraw it himself.
State lawmakers may not use election or any partisan data in redrawing the redial legislative maps, the court ordered.
All there judges of the court who heard the lawsuit by Common Cause against the NC legislature - Alma Hinton, Paul Ridgeway and Joseph Crosswhite - agreed to strike down the current redistricting map, even though at least one of the judges is a Republican.
They also agreed in the 357-page ruling that the voting districts violated the state Constitution’s Free Elections Clause, Equal Protection Clause, Freedom of Speech Clause and Freedom of Assembly Clause.
And most importantly, the three-judge panel is not allowing any appeal to delay the process they’ve outlined. In their order, the court “denies a stay of  the remedial process.’
Reaction from state lawmakers was swift Tuesday.
This is a big step in making sure that every NC’s vote matters, regardless of where you live,” tweeted House Minority Leader Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake). “Now the North Carolina General Assembly has until Sept. 18 to draw maps that are fair. It is time 4 us to come together to draw new maps that represent the people of this state & allow 4 every voice to be heard.”
An appeal is likely,” said Sen. Jeff Jackson, Democrat, “ but if granted it would go to the state Supreme Court, as this is a matter under the state constitution.”
Irving Joyner, professor of law at North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, said, “ The decision rendered by the three Judge panel in Common Cause, et al. v. David Lewis, et al. is a tremendous victory for the people of North Carolina. Among other things, this Court ruled that the North Carolina constitution provides more  protections for our citizens than does the federal constitution and statutes in voting rights matters. The General Assembly had already admitted that it drew legislative lines in order to obtain an advantage over Democrats and bragged about doing it. Now, our State Court has determined that their actions were illegal and that they lied about it to the federal courts. This is a huge legal conclusion that will drastically change and enhance the voting rights protections that people should enjoy in this state. The sad things is that this General Assembly has done so many evil things during the past eight years that it will require another decade in order for a properly elected General Assembly to repair the harms that have been inflicted in this State.”
Joyner, who is also chair of the NCNAACP Legal Redress Committee, continued, “This decision will be appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court, but the General Assembly is now compelled to draw new legislative lines before the 2020 elections are conducted and this Court has declared that its order will not be stayed. We applaud Common Cause and the other Plaintiffs for pressing forward with this challenge.
Professor Joyner added one more perspective specifically regarding African Americans.
“This decision, in conjunction with the NC NAACP’s victory in the McCrory racial motivation and redistricting cases, also supports the proposition that the North Carolina Constitution gives more protections to racial minorities, who reside in this state, than does the federal constitution. This is the meaning that African Americans like Bishop John Walker Hood and Abraham Galloway intended when they fought for and inserted an Equal Protection Clause in the 1865 North Carolina Constitution.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

Former Pres. Barack Obama, and his former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, aren’t waiting for 2021 to push for fair voting redistricting maps maps to be drawn. They’ve created the “All On the Line” national campaign to start now to organize against partisan gerrymandering, which is still legal, in order to “…restore fairness to our democracy and ensure every American has an equal say in our government.”
That point is especially crucial here in North Carolina, where the U.S. Supreme Court in June allowed partisan congressional gerrymandering by the Republican-led NC General Assembly to stand, but the NC Supreme Court is still in the process of deciding whether legislative partisan redistricting violates the state Constitution.
North Carolina is considered a “purple” state, and yet, because of Republican partisan gerrymandering, while Democrats voted to elected ore of their own to office, skewed voting districts allowed Republicans to maintain legislative and congressional majorities.
The [U.S.] Constitution requires the redistricting process to occur in 2021, no matter what,” says Holder. “But whether or not the maps are drawn fairly is yet to be determined -- and it's up to us to hold our elected officials accountable in this process. We have a plan to create a better, more fair, and more just democracy. The stakes could not be higher.”
The Democratic former president agrees.
“The movement for fair maps will determine the course of progress on every issue we care about for the next decade,” Obama said in a statement  announcing a new, free, in-person organizing training initiative called “Redistricting U.” 
“We need to build this movement from the ground up right now,” Obama maintained.
Obama and Holder came together for the cause when their respective political organizations - Obama’s Organizing for Action and Holder’s ‘The National Redistricting Action Fund - merged to become the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), which, in turn, launched the “All On the Line” campaign.
According to the “” website, Redistricting U sends “…dedicated trainers to cities across the country to train volunteers, give them the tools tp impact the redistricting process in their state, hear from them on how to best make change in their communities, and empower them to be leaders in the movement for fair maps.”
Because the initiative was just announced last week, it is still too early to determine where in North Carolina the Redistricting U training is taking place, but there’s little question that both Obama and Holder are very much aware of the state’s constant redistricting battles in the courts, and have been keeping a keen eye on every ruling affecting North Carolina.
The health of our democracy is not a given,” warns Eric holder. “And it's under attack. I say this not to be hyperbolic, but to remind us all of what's at stake. The impacts of redistricting will be long-lasting. From progress in the fight for common-sense gun protections to voting rights to access to health care -- we have the chance to determine the direction of the next decade. But we must remain committed and diligent in our effort to create a fair and just democracy. 
Editor’s note - to learn more about Redistricting U, go to allonthe

[instead of state briefs]

Governor Cooper has declared a State of Emergency for all 100 counties in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, which allows state resources to be mobilized and lets the state and local governments seek federal aid. He also signed two transportation waivers, one so that relief supplies and utility vehicles can move within the state, and another to help North Carolina farmers harvest and transport crops and livestock quickly
To prepare, residents should be sure they: 
  • Have multiple ways to receive weather information from reliable sources, 
  • Know your evacuation routes and review your emergency plan, 
  • Stock an emergency supply kit, which should contain food, water, prescription medicines, charging cords, batteries, and other essentials to support your family for several days 
  • Make sure your insurance is up to date.
For more information on how to ensure your family is disaster ready, go to or download the free ReadyNC app, which features traffic, power outage and shelter information.

Also, check to see if your local community offers an emergency alert service for its residents. Follow @NCEmergency on Twitter and Facebook for the latest information on Hurricane Dorian and how you can prepare. 

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer 

Over 51,000 North Carolinians who’ve paid their debt to society for a past felony conviction still have their right to vote suppressed do to “modern-day poll taxes,” according to a recent report by the Civil Rights Clinic at Georgetown Law School and Campaign Legal Center.
“In 2019, at least 30 states continue to disenfranchise some of their citizens based on wealth,” the report says.
Historically, “…payment of a poll tax was a prerequisite to the registration for voting in a number of states (including North Carolina) until 1966 (as a part of Jim Crow laws),” according to Wikipedia. Passage of the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution eliminated the poll tax in its original form for federal elections. But now, observers say, state governments have found a new way to keep the poor from exercising their right to vote.
The report titled “Can’t Pay, Can’t Vote,” notes that 48 out of 50 states - including North Carolina - require the payment of all due fines and fees associated with the completion of parole and/or probation for certain crimes. If those legal financial obligations are not satisfied to the state, the restoration of voting rights is denied.
According to the nonpartisan, nonprofit The Sentencing Project, in 2016, an estimated 51,845 North Carolinians fell into this category.
Currently across the United States, an estimated six million former felons have been denied their right to vote because they can’t pay their legal fines and fees associated with their convictions.
And given how the cost of court has simply skyrocketed over the past few decades, the Georgetown Law report notes that it can take years for ex-felons to pay off their legal fines and fees. If they can’t pay, the duration of their parole. And if they can’t payoff their legal financial obligations, their voter disenfranchisement is permanent, says the report.
And it should be no surprise to anyone that many of those affected, are black and Hispanic.
Given the well-documented racial disparities within the criminal justice system, these modern poll taxes—like poll taxes in the pre-Civil Rights era—are imposed disproportionately on people of color,” the report said. “They also have a disproportionate impact on the poor. Not only does living in poverty dramatically increase an individual’s risk of incarceration, and therefore, disenfranchisement, but a prior criminal conviction can often limit opportunities for employment and increase the risk of living in poverty post-incarceration.
Faced with limited economic resources and opportunities, formerly incarcerated individuals often struggle to keep up with, much less pay entirely, legal financial obligations resulting from their past convictions.”
On it’s conclusion, the Georgetown Law report states, “The surest way to eliminate the impact of wealth on access to the ballot for people with convictions is to abolish felony disenfranchisement. But states can take important steps short of that to ensure that wealth does not pose a barrier to the ballot box.”
“This is because, in most states, current forms of post-incarceration supervision are inextricably bound up with legal debt, such that rights restoration conditioned on completion of probation or parole is implicitly conditioned on ability to pay,” the report continues. “ Not only is automatic restoration easier to administer and on stronger constitutional footing, it is sound policy for everyone. Evidence suggests voting rights restoration improves re-entry and reduces recidivism. And, states are slowly moving in this direction, with both Colorado and Nevada adopting automatic restoration statutes in 2019. “