REV. DR. T. ANTHONY SPEARMAN DURING DEC. 27 PRESSER ANNOUNCING VOTER DECISION
REPUBLICANS OUTRAGED OVER
JUDGE’S VOTER ID RULING
By Cash Michaels
To hear Republicans tell it, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs is playing politics, legislating from the federal bench in her decision to temporarily block the state’s voter ID law from being implemented during the March 3, 2020 North Carolina primaries.
After all, if 34 other states can compel their citizens to show photo identification at the polls during primaries and general elections, why can’t North Carolina, Republicans ask?
“This last-minute attempt by an activist federal judge to overturn the will of North Carolina voters must be immediately appealed by the Governor’s Board of Elections,” an outraged Rep. Tim Moore, Republican Speaker of the NC House said in a statement last Friday.
There is little doubt that Moore, and other North Carolina Republicans are beyond themselves about this latest, unexpected legal development, primarily because there is little legally they can do about it.
Judge Biggs’ action is based on the NCNAACP’s December 20, 2018
lawsuit to stop Senate Bill 824, which, based on a state constitutional amendment voters passed a month earlier to approve voter photo identification in the state, was passed to legislatively establish it by law.
The NCNAACP alleged that SB 824 was unconstitutional and racially-biased as passed by the Republican-led NC legislature., adding that it violated Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
In doing so, the group alleged that the SB 824 was very similar to the 2013 voter ID law that was ultimately ruled unconstitutional because, in the words of the federal court, it targeted African-Americans for voter suppression with “…surgical precision.’
The civil rights group sued Gov. Roy Cooper, and members of the state Board of Elections [SBOE], the officials tasked with implementing and enforcing the law.
Realizing the shrewd legal move left them with no standing, Republican legislative leaders petitioned Judge Biggs last January to become “intervenors” in the suit, but she said “no,” adding that the SBOE, which opposed the NCNAACP’s lawsuit initially, would suffice.
However, the SBOE at the time the NCNAACP lawsuit was filed was dissolved, and Gov. Cooper had vetoed SB 824, saying that “ it was designed to suppress the rights of minority, poor and elderly voters.” The GOP-led legislature still had a super-majority then, and promptly overrode Cooper’s veto.
Thus, at press time, if there is an appeal coming, it will be from either a Democrat-majority SBOE, or Democrat state Attorney General Josh Stein, whose office is tasked with defending the state in court.
All of this leaves Republicans trying to pressure both Stein and the SBOE to appeal Judge Biggs’ ruling, or come up with some legal maneuver that Biggs would be forced to approve of.
Meanwhile, NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, along with Atty. Irving Joyner, chair of the NCNAAP Legal Redress Committee, and Atty Caitlan Swain of the nonprofit legal advocacy group “Forward Together” in Durham, rejoiced during a press conference last Friday, driving home the point that, barring an appeal, voter ID is dead for the March 2020 primaries.
Judge Biggs, who sits in the Middle District Court in Winston-Salem, sent notice of her coming ruling on the NCNAACP’s petition for a preliminary ruling last Thursday to county BOEs because it was the SBOE was planning to send information out to voters about voter ID requirements this week. Judge Biggs acted in order to stop that effort.
They expect that trial in which the lawsuit will be heard will proceed, and end in time before the November 2020 elections.
Voting rights advocates joined the NCNAACP in celebration.
“We applaud the court’s action to stop a discriminatory and poorly-implemented strict photo voter ID law that would have meant long lines at the polls, election chaos for our counties and ultimately disenfranchise eligible voters during the high-turnout 2020 Primary,” said Tomas Lopez, executive director of Democracy NC. “Now the work must immediately begin to make sure eligible voters know that the rules governing their elections have changed again, while emphasizing that what hasn’t changed is the importance of them making their voices heard in 2020.”
This is just one of two lawsuits the NCNAACP has pending against the state’s 2018 voter ID law. The other suit, this one against the legitimacy of the 2018 voter ID constitutional amendment, is pending a decision of the Republican-led state Appellate Court. A decision on that one is expected later this year.
2019 - A YEAR OF
By Cash Michaels
2019, a year that strong strong political upheaval and victories in the courtroom for civil rights; racism espoused from the White House and preparations for a dynamic upcoming political year.
An, of course, for only the third time in American history, a U.S. president was impeached.
These were the headline stories here in North Carolina that topped the Black Press.
State trooper fatally shoots an unarmed 28-year-old black man, Brandon Webster, at a Brunswick County truck stop. The Republican-led N.C. General Assembly started it’s long session, this time without the GOP super-majority that allowed it previously to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. Meanwhile a three-week federal government shutdown was affecting North Carolina farmers and hurricane relief efforts. UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Felt stepped down after ordering the removal of Silent Sam pedestal. Wilmington’s black community outraged over proposal to turn Williston Middle School, once an historic all-black senior high school - into an arts high school. A judge refused to certify the Ninth Congressional District election results from Nov. 2018 because of evidence on absentee ballot tampering. State Sen. Erica Smith and other Democrats announce their candidacies to unseat Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis. Rep. Alma Adams joins Chairwoman Rep. Maxine Waters on the House Financial Services Committee. St. Augustine’s University President Dr. Everett Ward announces his retirement after five years.
Bennett College for Women raises $8.2 million to stave off the threat of being shutdown after accreditation fight. Gov. Roy Cooper appoints NC Associate Justice Cheri Beasley to become chief justice of the NC Supreme Court, the first black female ever to do so. Virginian Gov. Ralph Northam faces withering criticism after confirming that a photo in a college yearbook is him in blackface. Former judges, law enforcement, and district attorneys petition the NC Supreme Court to rule the state’s death penalty law unconstitutional. In a victory for the NCNAACP, a Wake County Superior Court judge ruled that the voter ID amendment approved by voters in Nov. 2018 was unconstitutional because the Republican-majority that created the amendment was “illegally constituted.” The ruling was appealed. The NC State Board of Elections hold hearings into the Ninth Congressional District absentee ballot fraud case, and votes for a special do-over election.
Under tremendous black community pressure, the New Hanover County School Board drops proposal to turn Williston Middle School into an arts high school. NHC Schools investigate “slavery game” used in a local elementary school after a black grandmother complains. NHC Chapter of the National Black Leadership Caucus asks to have local park renamed after Major General Joseph McNeil - one of the Greensboro Four.
Congresspeople Alma Adams an G. K. Butterfield join other black members of Congress in demanding the release of the Mueller Report. Dr. John Marshall Kilimanjaro, publisher of the Carolina Peacemaker in Greensboro, dies.
State Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes is indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly attempting to bribe the NC Insurance commissioner. A massive gas explosion rocks Durham, killing one, injuring 25, just as the Bull City celebrates it’s 150th anniversary. Gov. Cooper appoints Reuben Young to the NC Court of Appeals. Community outrage as State Attorney General Josh Stein refuses to charge state trooper with excessive force in fatal shooting of Brandon Webster. Five of seven newly-elected NC black sheriffs gather to say leadership isn’t easy.
Durham City Council passes resolution honoring Malcolm X. State Board of Elections decides Republican Jody Greene unseated incumbent Democratic Columbus County Sheriff Lewis Hatcher in November 2018 election. Republican Dan Bishop wins do-over primary in special Ninth Congressional District race. Divine Nine supporters lobby state lawmakers for increased support of HBCUs. The NCNAACP celebrates the release from prison of Dontae Sharpe, who was falsely convicted of murder 25 years ago. NC Senate budget appropriates $2.5 million for Freedom Monument on state Capitol grounds.
NC Senate joins House in passing state budget without Medicaid expansion, setting up standoff with Gov. Cooper. Former NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber is convicted of trespassing at the state legislature. Rep. G. K. Butterfield calls for impeachment of Pres. Trump. Federal judge refuses to allow Republican legislative leaders to intervene in NCNAACP lawsuit to stop voter ID in 2020 elections. A report states that 60% of North Carolina’s fourth graders are not reading proficiently. Concern about HB 370, a bill that calls for the removal of a sheriff who refuses to work with ICE agents. The seven new black NC sheriffs feel the bill is directed at them. Congresspeople Alma Adams and G. K. Butterfield join call for congressional reparations study.
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court allows North Carolina’s Republican gerrymandered voting districts to stand, saying that federal courts have no business deciding state legislative issues. Bennett College for Women Pres. Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins steps down after school exceeds fundraising goal. Black architect Phillip Freelon of Durham dies. Congresswoman Alma Adams calls Pres. Trump “ a rAcist who is unfit to serve.” Redistricting computer files of the late Republican mapmaker Thomas Hofeller are allowed as evidence in a state court case seeking to find the 2017 legislative redistricting map unconstitutional. Republican state Supreme Court Associate Justice Paul Newby criticizes his Democrat colleagues on the High Court a being liberal. Pres. Trump holds a raucous campaign rally in Greenville, causing the Charlotte City Council to condemn his remarks because the RNC plans to hold it’s 2020 convention there. State Election Board Chair Robert Cordle resigns after making off-color joke at a convention. A 71 year-old white woman is taped calling a group of black women “stupid niggers” in a Raleigh restaurant, an then says afterwards she does not regret it.
Seven suspects are arraigned in Ninth District absentee ballot fraud case. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoes HB 370, the law that compels NC sheriffs to work with ICE agents. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest announces his candidacy for governor in 2020. NCNAACP concerned that Pres. Trump has nominated conservative UNC law Professor Richard Myers to become a federal judge in the Eastern District. Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris and NC Chief Justice Cheri Beasley appear together at St. Joseph’s A.M.E. Church in Durham. After 25 years of false imprisonment, Dontae Sharpe is freed.
State Sen. Harper Peterson files complaint over possible sale of NHRMC to a private company. Wilmington City Council approves naming Third Street after Major Gen. (ret) Joseph McNeil, one of the Greensboro Four. Three-judge panel rules the 2017 legislative redistricting maps are ‘unlawful partisan gerrymanders,” and orders them redrawn before the 2020 elections. Hurricane Dorian hits the Outer Banks hard. With pres. Trump’s help, Republicans sweep District 3, 9 congressional races. House Republicans override Gov. Cooper’s budget veto as democrats cry foul. Rep. G. K. Butterfield endorses former Vice pres. Joe Biden for president. All three NC Congressional Democrats back Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call for an impeachment inquiry into allegations that Pres. Trump tried to bribe the president of Ukraine.
NCNAACP petitions federal court for a preliminary injunction to stop the state’s voter ID law, saying that it is racial discriminatory. Democrats file new lawsuit challenging the Republican congressional voting map, but this time in state court. Talk show hostess Oprah Winfrey surprises a Charlotte luncheon by announcing she’s donating $1.15 million to the. UNCF fundraising event. National NAACP suspends former NCNAACP officer Rev. Curtis Gatewood upon allegations of sexual harassment. A new report states that North Carolina nationally is fourth in black teen suicides. North Carolinians join the nation in mourning the death of Maryland rep. Elijah Cummings. Report confirms that black infants in North Carolina die twice as much as white. Interim ECSU chancellor resigns amid video showing him intoxicated in the street. Three judge panel orders new congressional maps be drawn before 2020 elections. Former Sen. Kay Hagan and Detroit Congressman John Conyers die.
African American candidate Kevin Spears will be the new face on the Wilmington City Council next term after coming in second in a ten-candidate field. Wilmington Mayor Bill Safe won a sixth term. Fortieth anniversary of Greensboro massacre observed. Rep. Alma Adams supports black media baron Byron Allen in his U.S. Supreme Court case against Comcast Corp. Chatham County commissioners order Pittsboro confederate statue taken down, despite Elon poll showing most North Carolinians want them up. State Supreme Court declines review of new legislative maps. National group headed by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder challenges new North Carolina congressional maps. NCNAACP again petitions federal court to stop voter ID for the 2020 elections. A lawsuit is filed to overturn law that stops ex-felons from voting.
Wilmington police chief to retire Feb. 2020. Congressional candidates get greenlight to join others filing for office. 16 and 17 year-olds not longer charged as adults under new Raise the Age” law. Sen. Kamala Harris exits presidential due to lack of money. Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at Rev. Dr. William Barber’s church. All school in the UNC System now have acceptable forms of voter photo ID. UNC pays $2.5 million for Silent Sam confederate statue to go to confederate group. Democrats in Congress vote to reauthorize 1965 Voting Rights Act. UNC law Prof. Richard yes confirmed as federal judge of North Carolina’s Eastern District. Republican former Gov. Pat McCrory and Rep. Mark Walker announce that they will run for the U.S. Senate in 2020. Congress makes Rep. Adams’ FUTURE Act permanent. Trump administration announces it is cutting food stamps for the poor. Former state Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson files for House seat. Gov. Cooper seeks more black teachers. All three NC democratic congresspeople vote to impeach Pres. Donald Trump.
TRIBUTES TO REP. JOHN LEWIS
UPON WORD OF CANCER BATTLE
By Cash Michaels
As 2019 ended last weekend, came the sad word that civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) is in the process of battling Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“I have been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now,” Lewis, call by some a “true American hero” and the ‘conscience of the Congress” said in a statement.
““While I am clear-eyed about the prognosis, doctors have told me that recent medical advances have made this type of cancer treatable in many cases, that treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance.”
“So I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community. We still have many bridges to cross.”
Noting Rep. Lewis’ work with Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr. during the ’60s civil rights movement, and his continued battles for equal and voting rights after being elected to Congress, many dignitaries took time to pay tribute to John Lewis.
“Congressman John Lewis has been a fighter his entire life - fighting for the equality and civil rights of all people with unwavering faith and wisdom, said Rep. Alma Adams. (D-NC-12)
"We are all praying for you following this diagnosis. John, know that generations of Americans have you in their thoughts & prayers as you face this fight." She said in a statement. "We are all praying that you are comfortable. We know that you will be well,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“If there’s one thing I love about @RepJohnLewis, it’s his incomparable will to fight. I know he’s got a lot more of that left in him. Praying for you, my friend, said former Pres. Barack Obama.
If there’s anyone with the strength and courage to fight this, it’s you, John” said former Pres. Bill Clinton. “Hillary and I love you, and we join with millions of other Americans in praying for you and your family.”
According to Rep. Lewis’ congressional website, “ He was born the son of sharecroppers on February 21, 1940, outside of Troy, Alabama. He grew up on his family's farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama. As a young boy, he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts.
As a student at Fisk University, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. Lewis risked his life on those Rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was also beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.
While still a young man, John Lewis became a nationally recognized leader. By 1963, he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.
In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The following year, Lewis helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Hosea Williams, another notable Civil Rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as "Bloody Sunday." News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District since then. He is Senior Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, and Chairman of its Subcommittee on Oversight.