Monday, September 27, 2021


                                                                      GREG SMITH



By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Editor’s note - this is part 2 of a story about a black North Carolina medical professional who flew to Missouri for a medical conference in August, and found himself the target of alleged police abuse within a half hour of being there.

Greg Smith’s ordeal August 6th was every black driver’s nightmare come true - being stopped in the middle of the night on the road by police for no legal reason; faced with the uncertainty of either being physically assaulted, or hauled off to jail, or both. 

And to make matters worse, Smith was a clinical director from Fayetteville, NC who had just flown in to Missouri - documented as one of the worst states in the nation for racial profiling -  for a medical conference.

Black, alone and from out-of-town. How much worse could it get?

Smith was about to find out.

He had already refused to show his driver’s license to the irritated white Missouri state trooper who stopped him until a supervisor arrived, keeping both his hands on the steering wheel of his rental car, and having called 9-1-1 so that the operator could both hear and record the entire confrontation from his car until he was aggressively taken out, arrested, handcuffed and taken away.

And yet the whole time, Smith had no idea why he was “legally” stopped. 

“There was never a crime committed nor law broken,” Smith maintains.

He’s taken to a Platte City Highway Patrol station, where at first Smith was charged with speeding. Except that he could prove he was doing 65 mph in a 70 mph zone, and vigorously defended himself while still handcuffed, sitting in a chair. Indeed, the arresting officer had to account to the desk sergeant as to why Smith was even brought in in the first place.

Missouri law enforcement looked for  Smith’s criminal record through their computers, and discovered that….he didn’t have one. He’s a black man who is who he is. Eventually he was uncuffed.

And yet there was still a problem. Smith was informed by the desk sergeant that they just can’t let him go because of the way the arresting officer wrote up the traffic stop in the computer - “PERSON WILLFULLY RESISTS OPPOSES A MEMBER OF THE PATROL IN THE PROPER DISCHARGE OF THEIR DUTIES.” 

Smith had to pay $1,040 to bond himself out in order to be released, or else he would have to remain in jail “for a while.” Fortunately, Smith says,  he had his Visa card on him.

But even that would not help Smith find his rental car, which was taken to a Quick Stop all-night gas station approximately six miles away by officers, and left there. If Smith wanted his car back, he’d have to call a taxi to take him to it. He’d also have to stay in the building downstairs in order to have any kind of shelter and safety.

After 90 minutes of “shelter and safety” and five fruitless calls waiting for a taxi, a tired and frustrated Greg Smith decided to strike out on his own, and walked the dark streets of Platte City to find his rental car. 

After getting confusing directions from officers, he went. Using the flashlight on his cellphone, Smith reached a gas station about a mile and a half away, where an attendant told him that his rental car was most likely at another station six miles away.

Smith finally reached the vehicle, and then took himself to an emergency room because of “the incredible pain” from the handcuffs. To Smith, it was apparent that the irritated white trooper “really wanted to injure me,” given the bruises on his wrists.”

“You’re questioning my authority, so I’m going to do this, or this to you,” Smith surmisses the trooper’s alleged rough actions as saying.

The Fayetteville man says through it all he thought of previous well-known victims of racial police violence like Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown - killed right there in Ferguson, Missouri by a police officer in August 2014, and felt the responsibility to speak out against what happened to him.

It’s one of the reasons why Smith felt it important to keep his hands on the steering wheel where they could be seen when stopped,  and never move them, dial 9-1-1 so that the operator could hear and record all that was going on, and demand a highway patrol supervisor to the scene so that any arrest could be conducted properly, if at all.

Smith has a black attorney in Missouri, and is ready to fight what happened to him.

“Reports of racial profiling by police in Missouri are not unusual and are supported by the data submitted by law enforcement officials each year,” said Luz Maria Henriquez, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri, in a statement.

As previously reported, no less than the Missouri State Attorney General’s Office has confirmed that African-Americans were 75-85%  racially profiled by Missouri law enforcement in previous years. The problem was so bad that the Missouri NAACP issued a travel advisory for black visitors to the state to travel with “with extremely caution.”

”Year after year, the data confirm that black and brown drivers are subject to racial profiling by law enforcement in Missouri—in terms of stops, arrests, and searches,” Henrquez continued. “Yet, for more than twenty years, the state has refused to update its racial profiling law to pinpoint officers who perpetuate this practice.”

“ Racial profiling is bad policing,” the Missouri ACLU head maintained, “… not only discriminating against black and brown people throughout Missouri, but also wasting police resources on encounters with those who are committing no serious crime and pose no danger to anyone.” 

Greg Smith’s court date in Missouri for the resisting arrest charge is scheduled for Nov. 16th. He says he plans to sue the Missouri State Highway Patrol.






By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

For the next couple of Fridays, every time Governor Roy Cooper looks outside of his front window at the Executive Mansion in Raleigh, he may see demonstrators outside protesting the long, inexplicable delay in granting Donte Sharpe a pardon of innocence for a crime he didn’t commit, but was convicted of and spent time behind bars for.

Sharpe, 46, was released from prison, where he had served at least 26 years, in August 2019 after a Pitt County judge ordered a retrial, and a prosecutor decided not to retry the case. Sharpe later filed for a pardon of innocence based on wrongful conviction, which, when granted, would make him eligible for the maximum $750,000 in state-granted compensation.

But the governor has to grant the pardon first, and is the only one legally that can do so.

Gov. Cooper’s spokesperson told reporters that the governor “plans to make decisions on this and other cases by the end of the year,” but Sharpe’s supporters complain two years is too long, especially since he had spent the majority of his life falsely accused and convicted behind bars.

        According to a press release from the NC NAACP, “Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the NC NAACP, began standing vigil in front of the governor’s office (116 W. Jones St.) at noon Wednesday, Sept. 22, and continued through the night. He [was] joined by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach, and other faith leaders at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 23.”

Last Friday, North Carolina faith leaders, along with members of Repairers of the Breach, the NC NAACP  and NC Second Chance Alliance held a Freedom Friday spiritual vigil and met with reporters, in support of Dontae Sharpe.

“It's not about me,” Sharpe told reporters. “It's bigger than me. I didn't get justice, I haven't gotten justice, but I do have the truth and they can't change that.”

Dr. Spearman said, ““Without the pardon of innocence, his record still shows and bares the mark of a wrong conviction and he’s also not entitled to be paid restitution by the state for the 26 years of his life he spent in jail as an innocent man.”

Sharpe was just 19 years-old when he was arrested and charged for the 1994 murder of 33-year-old George Radcliffe in Greenville. Sharpe had maintained his innocence throughout his prison sentence.

He was sentenced to life in prison.




[WILMINGTON] If you received your Pfizer vaccination shots against COVID-19 earlier this year, you should be able to get a Pfizer booster shot now that the FDA has approved it. Those eligible include - patients 65 and older;  patients 50 to 64 with certain underlying medical conditions; patients 18 to 49 who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection due to certain underlying medical conditions; patients 18-64 at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting. Go to to schedule an appointment for a Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot. Currently, there is no booster shot for those who got the Moderna vaccine, or Johnson and Johnson.


[WILMINGTON] During the course of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it should be no surprise that there is a pronounced blood shortage, and supplies are low. In fact, the American Red Cross says its blood and platelet supplies are the lowest since 2015. It needs to collect  upwards of 10,000 additional blood products each week for the next month in order to bring supplies back to normal. To make an appointment to give blood safely, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or visit, or get the Red Cross Donor App. There are rewards for your blood donation.


[WILMINGTON] The president of the New Hanover County NAACP how has a new title - trustee. Ms. Deborah Dicks Maxwell has been appointed to the trustee board of Cape Fear Community College.  Ms. Dicks Maxwell, a Wilmington native is also NAACP District Director for Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, new Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties.

Also appointed, retired educator Deloris Rhodes. Ms. Rhodes has served as a teacher, guidance counselor, principal, and assistant principal, as well a a founding member of the Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington,  and UNCW’s Dropout Prevention Coalition.

Commissioner Jonathan Barfield has been reappointed to the CFCC Trustee Board.

All three terms end on June 30, 2025.


Sunday, September 19, 2021


                                                                   GREGORY SMITH



By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

No, he wasn’t beaten. Nor was he shot, nor had a knee pressed to the back of his neck like George Floyd.

And yet, according to Gregory Smith - the clinical director of a family medicine clinic in Fayetteville -  the alleged mistreatment he suffered from a Missouri state trooper on August 6th was solely because he was a black man driving alone on a road in the middle of the night from the airport, on his way to a nearby medical conference.

Before that night was over, Smith would be threatened with physical force, arrested, booked, made to pay a $1,040.00 bond, and made to walk six unfamiliar miles in the pitch black dead of night to find his rental car, which officers left at an off road gas station.

And yet, Smith may have saved his own life in his encounter with the state trooper by phoning 9-1-1 on his cellphone from his rental car, and keeping the line open so that everything that was said between him and the officer could be recorded for later use in court.

Gregory Smith will be suing the Missouri Highway Patrol, he vows.     

He’s likely in good company. According to a Vehicle Stops Report (VPR) issued earlier this year by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office per racial profiling incidents by the state’s law enforcement in 2020, even in the midst of the pandemic, black motorists were stopped 71% more than whites.

As troubling as that figure is, it’s actually lower than the 2018 Missouri AG’s VPR figure  for black traffic stops - 85% - the highest figure in 18 years there.

The problem was so bad that in 2017, the Missouri NAACP issued a first of its kind travel advisory for African-Americans visiting the state.

The advisory “…warned visitors that their civil rights could be violated if they enter the state,’ reported Time Magazine in August, 2017.

The NAACP advisory also warned visitors to exercise “extreme caution.”

Add to that, according to press accounts, the trooper Smith had his confrontation with is a former U.S. Marine who had just graduated the Missouri Highway Patrol Academy in December 2019, and got his first trooper assignment in January 2020. 

According to the St. Louis American, a leading African-American newspaper in the state of Missouri, Platte County, where Smith was stopped, was among “The worst places to drive while black in Missouri.”

And through it all, one factual question lingers - why was Greg Smith even stopped by the trooper in the first place?

On the copy of the uniform citation that Smith was given subsequent to his arrest, there is nothing about the black motorist speeding, or violating any of Missouri’s traffic laws.

The citation reads, “Willfully resisting or opposed a member of the Highway Patrol in the Proper Discharge of his duties - resisting officer.”

But what was the reason for the trooper - identified as “J. Colwell” on the citation - to stop Smith in the first place? What was Smith doing to peak Trooper Colwell’s attention at nighttime on the road? Why was it necessary to stop this black man driving a 2021 Nissan Versa with Missouri license plates?

The only information we have is that citation, and Gregory Smith’s story.

It’s a story that to this day, has Smith, 64, shaken, angry, and demanding justice.

In an incident report, and phone interview, Smith tells how he flew into Kansas, Mo. from North Carolina at approximately midnight on August 6th. He picked up the rental car, and proceeded down Highway 29 North towards Lawrence, Kansas where the medical conference was being held. He was to check into a hotel there.

About 20 minutes in, Smith noticed a highway patrol car “parked dangerously on the lip of the highway,” he recalls. He put on his blinkers, changed lanes, passed the parked patrol car, and then reentered the right lane, doing 65 mph (the speed limit posted was 70).

There were several cars on the road at that time, but Smith noticed that the patrol car pulled off and got behind him with its lights flashing. Unsure why, Smith says he dialed 9-1-1, told dispatch he didn’t feel safe being pulled over by a patrol car in the dark. 

“Keeping my hands on the steering wheel, the officer looked into my vehicle and began barking out orders, “give me your driver’s license,” Smith recalls. Asking the dispatcher if she could clearly hear what was going on (she replied that she could), Smith then explained to the trooper that his driver’s license was in his pants pocket, but he didn’t feel safe reaching for it because the officer was yelling, “…moving my hands from the steering wheel would give him an excuse to shoot and kill me…”

Smith then repeated to the dispatcher that he didn’t feel safe, and requested a supervisor come to the scene immediately, which she did.

“The Highway Patrol officer became (more) irritated….[and] then began to threaten pepper spraying me …six times if I didn’t move my hands from the steering wheel despite me repeating at least six different times I didn’t feel safe and felt my life was in danger…”

The trooper, says Smith, tells him other patrol cruisers have arrived, and warns the Black motorist that officers are going to “forcefully remove” him from his vehicle, go through his clothing and retrieve his driver’s license, so either move his hands towards his pants pockets, or prepared to be pepper sprayed.

It was then that the trooper and two other officers pulled open the driver’s door,  while the supervisor appeared on the passenger side, urging Smith to comply with the order.

Smith says he lowered his hands and exited the vehicle, upon which he was “shoved up against the car, handcuffed (tightly) and arrested.”

Editor’s note - next, what happened to Gregory Smith after he was arrested; why he had to walk six miles to find his rental car in the middle of the night, and why he feels he behaved appropriately to save his life when confronted by the Missouri state trooper.



STATE SEN. Paul Newton

                                                         STATE SEN. DAN BLUE



By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

A three-judge Superior Court panel Sept. 17th ruled that the state’s 2018 voter photo ID law was unconstitutional because even if it didn’t intend to discriminate against African-Americans, that is what it effectively did.

So what happens next, especially when there are three NC voter ID cases in litigation at play?

Republican legislative leaders have already announced their intention to appeal Friday’s 2-1 decision in Holmes V. Moore to the NC Court of Appeals.

There is also another pending lawsuit in NC Supreme Court against the 2018 law, NAACP v. Moore, claiming that the Republican-led NC General Assembly did not have the legal authority to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot from which the law was derived for voter ratification because the 2018 NC General Assembly was illegally constituted due to racial gerrymandering.  

A Wake Superior Court judge ruled accordingly, but that ruling was reversed by the NC Court of Appeals. So now the state’s High Court must weigh in.

And finally, there is yet another lawsuit, NAACP v. Cooper, this time in federal court, scheduled for January 24, in 2022 in Winston-Salem, after a black federal judge issued a preliminary injunction preventing the 2018 voter ID law from going into effect while the lawsuit was pending because of North Carolina’s “…sordid history of racial discrimination and voter suppression.” That judge’s December 2019 injunction was later overturned by the U.S. Fourth Circuit of Appeals, even though a state court had also blocked the law from going into effect.

Meanwhile, the Sept. 17th Superior Court ruling striking down the 208 voter ID law was definitive.

"We do not find that any member of the General Assembly who voted in favor of S.B. 824 harbors any racial animus or hatred towards African American voters, but rather ...that the Republican majority 'target(ed) voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party,” the court majority ruled. “Even if done for partisan ends, that constitute(s) racial discrimination.’” 

Reaction to the ruling was swift from both sides.

“Today’s ruling striking down North Carolina’s latest unconstitutional photo voter ID law is a testament to the overwhelming evidence, including compelling stories of disenfranchisement from voters themselves, which highlighted how the state’s Republican-controlled legislature undeniably implemented this legislation to maintain its power by targeting voters of color,” said Allison Biggs, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, which was represented by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said last Friday. 

“We applaud the three-judge panel’s decision and hope it sends a strong message that racial discrimination will not be tolerated,” Biggs continued.  “Should legislative defendants appeal today’s ruling, we’ll be prepared to remind them of what this court and the state’s constitution mandate: every vote matters.” 

State Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) posted on Facebook, Friday, “ Republicans’ pattern of a “race blind” approach to legislating continues to give us discriminatory results. The court has again struck down the state’s voter ID law, later adding that the law was “racially discriminatory and unconstitutional.”

Sen. Blue’s GOP colleague, Sen. Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus), disagreed.

“The court absurdly concluded that a law sponsored by an African American Democrat was designed to harm African American voters,” Newton opined. “It’s unbelievable.”




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

In 2015, across the United States, 6.6 deaths for every 100,000 African-Americans was due to opioid overdose.

In 2019, the figure dramatically shot up to 17.1 per 100,000 for blacks, and 19 per 100,000 for whites.

The figure for whites is actually dropping nationally, medical researchers say.

So what is being done about opioid overdosing among African-Americans  here in North Carolina, where the rate is growing faster as elsewhere? 

According to Dr. Elyse Powell, state Opioid Coordinator for the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), deaths among African-Americans because of opioid abuse is indeed occurring faster.

Key strategies from both a local and statewide approach are being employed to address the problem, which involves both prescription (Oxycotin) and illegal (heroin) opioid use.

Preventing as many people as possible from abusing opioid substances, including why they abuse in the first place, by connecting them to mental health services. 

Reducing harm by addressing the needs of populations most at-risk.

And connecting to care by expanding access to treatment and recovery support.

It was 2017 when the state kicked off the North Carolina Action Plan (NC DAP) employing these measures and more, and since then opioid dispensing has decreased by 34 percent, according to NCDHHS. June 2019, the NCDAP was updated to NCDAP 2.0.

Over the past four years, North Carolina has received more than $70 million in federal funds to help provide treatment for over 21,000 people afflicted statewide. Prescriptions for medications used to combat opioid drug abuse increased by 33 percent. Treatment for those suffering from opioid use disorder who are either uninsured or are Medicaid beneficiaries went up by 48  percent.

So in 2020 in four key counties important to our readers, the NC DAP tracked key metrics to monitor the impact of strategies laid out in the plan, and set a goal to reduce expected opioid overdose deaths and expected opioid overdose emergency department (ED)  by 20% by 2021.

Thus, in those four counties for 2020, the Guilford death rate per 100,000 was 20.5; New Hanover County was 32.0, Buncombe was 31.0 and Charlotte-Mecklenburg was 13.9.

One area where it has gotten worse since the pandemic began is opioid-related overdoses, Powell says. Also of note, at least 40% of opioid cases coming into hospital emergency rooms are patients with no medical insurance, “a huge reason” for why the expansion of Medicare in the state is badly needed, Powell adds.

Research shows that the population most affected by opioid abuse in North Carolina are Native-Americans, and the areas most impacted are Robeson (53.6 deaths per 100,000) and Bladen (52 deaths per 100,000) counties, among others.




[HOPE MILLS] A six year-old African-American child was taken out of a soccer game by the referee because she had beads in her hair, and her mother is crying foul, claiming the she wasn’t told as to why. But an official with the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Dept. counters that their rules for playing in their soccer program state that no one can play if they have watches, rings, earrings or hair beads. The mother, Daraille Marshmon, maintains that no one told her about the rules so that her daughter, Gabriella, could play. The park’s athletic director admits the referee may not have handled the situation appropriately.


[RALEIGH] At least sixty employees with UNC-Rex Hospital have quit their jobs rather than follow an employment mandate that they be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Some 30,000 UNC Health employees had until Tuesday to get the shot, or lose their jobs. But on Monday, that deadline was pushed back to Nov. 2. Now more than 1,000 unvaccinated employees are on probation or have 6 weeks to be vaccinated.


[RALEIGH] According to the NC Dept of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), 5.3% of the 57% of North Carolinians who have received at least one shot to protect against COVID-19, have not returned to get their second shot. Medical experts agree that one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines is not enough to offer full protection against the coronavirus. Those who got the needed second dose did so at least three to four weeks after they received the first. That can be stretched to six weeks in some cases. Thus far, at least 195, 219 people haven’t gotten their second shot, says NCDHHS.



Monday, September 13, 2021






By Cash Michaels

contributing writer

It should not have come as a surprise to any Republican state lawmaker that Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was going to veto their most controversial legislation this term.

Last week, Cooper vetoed House Bill 805 and House Bill 324. Both measures were seen by Democrats as Republican over-reaches of First Amendment and educational freedoms, so much so that there is little chance of any Democrat joining GOP lawmakers in attempting to override Gov. Cooper’s veto.

As reported recently, HB 805, ratified by the Republican-majority NC House after winning approval in the GOP-led Senate, was purported to be a direct response to last summer’s protests and calls for racial justice and police accountability.proponents said.

But opponents, primarily Democrats, countered that it was an attempt to stifle peaceful protests.

“The bill is a clear attempt to suppress free speech and the right to assemble,” the progressive-leaning NC Justice Center said. “It also leaves the definition of a “riot” intentionally vague, thus granting police and prosecutors immense power to target Black, brown, and indigenous communities. By standing up for racial justice, those communities will be most hurt by the subjective legislation.”

Interestingly, a federal judge in Florida last Thursday ruled that state’s anti-riot law as unconstitutional as well,  arguing that law’s language too vague,”…[permitting] those in power to weaponize its enforcement against any group who wishes to express any message that the government disapproves of." 

  Gov. Roy Cooper agreed.

“People who commit crimes during riots and at other times should be prosecuted and our laws provide for that, but this legislation is unnecessary and is intended to intimidated and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest,” said Cooper in a statement, explaining why he was vetoing the measure.

The Democratic governor also had sour grapes for the controversial HB324, which Republicans assured was an effort to prevent “indoctrination” by liberal teachers of students about racism, sexism, and America’s racist ad sexist history.

Led by black Republican NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, HB 324 mirrored similar so-called anti-Critical Race Theory laws in numerous other states.

“Republicans haven’t uncovered indoctrination in our schools,” said Democratic Senate leader Dan Blue (D-Wake). “What they have done with this bill is distract the public, and ourselves, from the real work that we should be doing to improve our public schools.”

Again, Gov. Cooper and his veto were on the same page.

“The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools,” said the governor in a statement. “Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics in public education.”

Again, because Republicans do not have enough members in either the House or the Senate to constitute the required supermajority, the governor’s veto of HB 324 is expected to stand.

Thus far this term, Gov. Cooper has vetoed ten bills.


                                                 MICHAEL. K. WILLIAMS



By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

The untimely death of gifted actor Michael K. Williams - star of HBO’s Lovecraft Country and The Wire, among other noteworthy productions -  last week, according to authorities, apparently attributed to a drug overdose in his Brooklyn home, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, reminded all that the Black community has to struggle with two growing health challenges that threaten our everyday living.

It has been well documented that even though, at press time, there was no official determination of what exactly caused the Emmy-nominated Williams’ death, the actor’s well-documented drug use history, and the paraphernalia and heroin allegedly found on his kitchen table, pointed toward an apparent overdose of the deadly, and illegal opioid as the culprit.

Williams, 54, was always open about his drug abuse problems, something he suffered from since the age of 19. 

In 2012, he told that he spent his earnings from The Wire on drugs.

I was playing with fire, he said. “It was just a matter of time before I got caught and my business ended up on the cover of a tabloid or I went to jail or, worse, I ended up dead. When I look back on it now, I don’t know how I didn’t end up in a body bag.”

It was February 2020 when Williams told an event for former prisoners that his work in movies was a way to beat his habit. “This Hollywood thing that you see me in, I’m passing through. Because I believe this is where my passion, my purpose are supposed to be.” 

Sadly, Williams’ addiction may have eventually destroyed them both.

Here in North Carolina , there are thousands who are in the same boat, officials tell us. And while opioid addition is primarily white, it is becoming increasingly Black.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 79% of drug overdose deaths involved opioids in 2018 in North Carolina. In 2019, “nearly five North Carolinians died each day from unintentional opioid overdose. From 2000-2019, more than 16,500 North Carolinians lost their lives to unintentional opioid overdose, reports the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Opioid Action Plan Data Dashboard.

Think the opioid and COVID-19 crisies have nothing to do with each other? Think again.

According to North Carolina Public Radio in a report out just last month, opioid overdose deaths in the state actually increased during the coronavirus lockdown, contributing to the fact that North Carolina had more opioid overdose deaths in 2020 than any other year on record.

The most commonly, and overly prescribed opioid is Oxycontin.

"Opiate addiction is a group of diseases that people call the diseases of despair,” said Dr. Graham Snyder, medical director of WakeMed in Raleigh to WUNC-FM. “Meaning when things are bad — when unemployment, education, job uncertainty, food uncertainty are bad — then those diseases get worse.” 

"You take people who are already struggling and say, 'Oh, by the way, now you're unemployed. You can't do the fun things you used to and everywhere you look, there's uncertainty.' That's a setup for an opioid crisis. And the numbers have gone up, but they're not skyrocketing yet," Dr. Snyder continued.

So how does that translate racially?

In a new report issued just last week, “an increasing number of Black people in America are dying from opioid overdose deaths, compared with their white peers….,” states The Independent. “The rate of opioid overdose deaths has been climbing for African-Americans faster than other groups, a study from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found,” The Independent added.

The reasons for the disparity, according to the study’s authors, are diverse. Because of stigmas and a lack of access to healthcare, Black people are both less likely to be prescribed opioids in the first place for their pain, and less likely to get life-saving addiction treatment once they develop difficulties with the drugs.”

"If you are Black American and you have an opioid use disorder, you are much less likely to be prescribed medications for opioid use disorder," Dr Nora Volko, head of NIDA, told NPR. “That’s discrimination.”

North Carolina wasn’t part of NIDA’s four-state study, but that doesn’t mean the results don’t apply to areas like Wilmington, Greensboro, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Asheville.

In 2016, according to the study, The Opioid Crisis in America’s Workforce from Castlight Health, Wilmington lead the nation in opioid abuse at 11.6%

In 2014, opioid addiction was reported as “spiking’ in Guilford County, the third most populated in North Carolina. Heroin addiction was found to be particularly bad in Greensboro.

In 2017, Axios Charlotte reported that ‘…in the last decade, opioid-related deaths in the county have increased by 134 percent.”

And, according to the Buncombe County Dept. of Health, Buncombe County experienced “…147% increase in overdose deaths from 2015-2017.”

Editor’s Note - What is being done in North Carolina to combat the scourge of opioid drug addiction, especially in the Black community?




[RALEIGH] Ex-felons who immediately registered to vote between

August 23 to September 3rd, shall remain registered until further court order, states the NC State Supreme Court.

On August 23, 2021, a North Carolina superior court expanded this earlier decision and ordered that all felons on community supervision be permitted to register and vote. This would include people on felony probation, parole, or post-release supervision. However, on September 3, 2021, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ordered a halt to that decision while it is on appeal. Last Friday’s decision from the N.C. Supreme Court affirms the halt put in place by the Court of Appeals, with one exception. The Supreme Court’s order allows any felon on community supervision who registered between August 23 and September 3, 2021, to remain registered and vote until further order of the court.     


[WILMINGTON] The average Wilmingtonian has one more year of education than does the average. So says a study by HireAHelper, a group which studies educational attainment throughout the United States. The study shows Wilmington residents average 14.1 years of education, compared to 13.4 years for Americans on average. Overall, 26.2% of Wilmington residents’ highest level of attainment is a bachelor’s degree, and 15.7% attain a graduate or professional degree. To find out more, go to


[WILMINGTON] Compare the Port City to elsewhere in the state, if not much of the nation, and you’ll find that it’s cheaper to live here than most anywhere else. But you may also find that the roads are now more crowded as a result. That finding and more is in a new study by Roofstock looking at the affordable U.S. locations experiencing the most population growth. The cost of living in the Wilmington metro area is 5.6% below the national average. Between 2017 and 2020, the population in Wilmington increased by 4.0%. For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Roofstock’s website:


Monday, September 6, 2021





by Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

North Carolina Republican legislative leaders wasted no time last week moving to have the NC Appeals Court to reverse a three-judge Superior Court panel’s injunctive order Sept. 3rd to restore the voting rights of approximately 56,000 former felons on parole. It will be the seven-member N.C. Supreme Court that will hear the plaintiff’s appeal of that decision.

Democrats retain a one-vote majority on the state’s High Court - 4 to 3.

Plaintiffs maintain that the historic denial of voting rights to ex-felons is rooted in racial discrimination. The Superior Court panel agreed.

When State Attorney Gen. Josh Stein refused to appeal the appellate order (he said because no written order from the Superior Court had been issued), outraged Republican legislative leaders House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro tem Phil Berger hired outside counsel to challenge the Superior Court’s injunctive order.

It was a legal move that plaintiffs had expected from the moment they were informed that they had won the original injunctive order.

“This case is a matter of statewide and national significance, requiring immediate action from the state’s highest Court,” plaintiffs attorneys said in a written statement. “Hundreds of North Carolinians are exercising a new right to vote in this state, encouraged and inspired by the three judge panel decision — we will not rest until their rights are fully vindicated.”

The statement continued, “ “We have full faith that justice delayed today will not be justice denied for the plaintiffs, the North Carolina Second Chance Alliance, and the entire State of North Carolina,” plaintiffs continued. “The collective will of the state is stifled when so many of our citizens are unjustifiably not able to participate in our democracy.

“That exclusion of our neighbors’ voices is morally and constitutionally wrong.”

NC NAACP Legal Redress Committee Chair Atty. Irving Joyner added, “North Carolina ought to be a State where we can have pride in the fact that all of our citizens can vote and fully participate in the political franchise.”

Republicans, on the other hand, maintain that it was a Democrat-controlled N.C General Assembly 48 years-ago that took voting rights away from former felons in 1973, and outline how they can retain them. That was the law, and judges should not be able to arbitrarily throw out laws they don’t like.

Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Burke) said, “The decision to block the lower court’s ruling affirms that judges can’t just replace laws they don’t like with new ones. It also shows how false Attorney General Josh Stein’s purported reason was for refusing to defend the legislature in this case.”




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

The North Carolina Republican legislative agenda is quickly mirroring the national Republican Party legislative agenda.

Last week, North Carolina joined at least 19 other states that either have passed anti-Critical Race Theory laws, or are debating them.

North Carolina has also joined a plethora of states that have ratified restrictive “election integrity” laws, in reaction to false accusations about the November 2020 elections.

Now the state General Assembly has adopted House Bill 805 - the Anti-Rioting Act, a measure that at least one African-American Democratic lawmaker alleged had strong racial overtones, while other Democratic legislators maintain limit freedom of speech.

At press time Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was expected to veto the measure. The progressive/nonprofit NC Justice Center asked its supporters to contact Gov. Cooper and tell him to veto the “anti-protest, anti-Black Lives Matter” legislation.

While HB805 was originally purported to be a bill combatting “riots,” lawmakers have become increasingly explicit in saying it is a direct response to last summer’s protests and calls for racial justice and police accountability. The bill is a clear attempt to suppress free speech and the right to assemble,” the Justice Center said.

“It also leaves the definition of a “riot” intentionally vague, thus granting police and prosecutors immense power to target Black, brown, and indigenous communities. By standing up for racial justice, those communities will be most hurt by the subjective legislation.”

The Justice Center continued, “ This legislation is exactly what it appears to be: part of a divisive and transparent attempt to divide communities and criminalize standing up for racial justice.”

But during debate last week, House Republicans disagreed.

Republican House Speaker Tim Moore (Cleveland County) argued, “ “We saw firsthand what happens when folks join in what was otherwise a lawful protest and engage in destruction of property, assaults, and injury to people. That’s not protesting at that point. That’s rioting. That’s looting.”

The measure passed 63-41on Tuesday, August 31st. 

Gov. Cooper is given up to ten days to decide whether he will sign or veto the bill. If he does nothing, it becomes law.




[WILMINGTON] Despite there being less smokes than in years before, a significant amount of the nation’s population still light’s up. For instance, according to a new report from the research company Filterbuy, 20.6% of adults in Wilmington are smokers, per a survey of all U.S. small cities. That means over 20.6% of adults have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. You can find out more at


[RALEIGH] So when will state lawmakers be going home? Apparently, no time soon. This session of the NC General Assembly is slated to produce  new two-year budget, but thus far, neither the state House or Senate are reportedly anywhere near agreeing on one. It would be easy to forget that the first day of this session was January 13th. Normally this session would end by the end of summer, beginning of fall in September. But not this year.


[RALEIGH] There were over 25,000 news cases of the coronavirus and 123 deaths over the Labor Day weekend, according to the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services. That means that as of last weekend, the state was very close overall to 15,000 dead. Reportedly, there were approximately 3,800 COVID-19 patients across the state, with one-fourth of those in intensive care. The surge is because of the new Delta variant, officials say.