Monday, November 29, 2021


                                   AHMAUD ARBERY AND MOTHER, WANDA COOPER

                                                                         IRV JOYNER




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

In February 2020 in Brunswick, Georgia, a 25-year-old African-American man named Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death after being confronted while jogging through a predominately white neighborhood by Gregory and Travis McMichael. The encounter was videotaped by a third white man, William Bryan, who helped to chase Arbery down before his death. Over two months later, the three men were arrested and charged with murder. They claimed they were protecting their neighborhood from a suspected criminal, but last week, a predominately white Georgia jury didn’t buy that, and all three were convicted of murder.

Now all three await a federal trial in February amid federal hate crime charges.

Two North Carolina perspectives on the Ahmaud Arbery verdict in Georgia last week from two veteran civil rights leaders who agree that though monumental, the jury decision of eleven whites and one African -American could have just as easily gone the other way, because racism in America is nowhere near dead

First, a legal perspective from Law Professor Irving Joyner of the North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, who maintains that the prosecution did an excellent job of presenting evidence that Arbery’s senseless murder was unwarranted  because he posed no threat nor committed any crime:

The irony in this case is that the most compelling evidence against these defendants was the presence of a video tape of the killing which was recorded by Defendant Bryan and was arrogantly circulated by him or intentionally leaked to the public by someone who received it. Without this video, it is highly unlikely that this prosecution would have occurred or been successful. The recording of this incident was brazen and its circulation to others evidenced the highest level of racial arrogance.

From the community perspective, it is clear that African Americans still need to be vigilant, watchful and concerned about the environments in which we choose to engage in public activities. These verdicts are encouraging, but do not isolate any person of color from the very real potential harm and danger which continue to lurk around us in the real world. It is critical that we remember that these three defendants almost got away with these crimes. It took 74 days before these charges were lodged against these defendants and those charges only resulted after the public posting of the  “leaked” video which was recorded by one of them. Along the way, law enforcement officials and prosecutors refused to arrest and charge them for the crimes which they committed. As such, “jogging while Black” remains as a dangerous activity.

The second NC civil rights perspective is from former NC NAACP President Bishop William Barber, currently cochair of the National Poor People’s Campaign, and president of Repairers of the Breach. Bishop Barber was interviewed on CNN shortly after the verdict was reached:

It’s a good and powerful day for justice. Three vicious killers convicted for killing an unarmed young black man for running in the wrong place, according to them, but it's a sad and ridiculous day that we even had to have a trial like this, that a person would be shot down in this way, that a life would be wasted in this way, that Ahmaud can't be with his family. 

It's a sad day that we had to hear the mother even today say I never thought this day would come, that she didn't even think justice was possible, and it's a complicated day. It's a complicated day because we had to go through a lot… to get here. It's not as though this case went straight to trial. it's a complicated day because the mother and the father had to fight vigilantly to get the case to even be heard in the first place, and it's a complicated day because we have to ask questions like what if the killers had not videoed themselves, and we look at America, now the cases that are successful, George Floyd and this case, are all cases where there has been video. What if there weren't video, what lies would the defense have told if there wasn't video? 

What does this say about us the only time you can get the justice you ought to have is when there's a video, and in this case if the killers had not been so arrogant in their racism, and the lawyers had not been so arrogant, we can't imagine? It's a good day, a sad and ridiculous day, and a complicated day in America, and it's far from over in terms of us dealing with racial justice and violence. 

Bishop Barber also praised the strength of Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper, who fought valiantly against at least three prosecutors who initially wanted to bury the case:

Wanda Cooper prayed the initial prosecutor out of the way. Now, I think that prayer is very powerful, and that's important, however, that shouldn't be your only line of defense, and it sounds like for Wanda Cooper, for a long time, it was. You know, she's standing in a serious tradition. Sojourner Truth said “I pray and I stand in the truth, I have no fear because the truth is all powerful. A lot of people …., myself, even, we weren't there. she fought a lot of this by herself. She kept pushing. she prayed with her feet and with her soul.”




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

With disturbing reports increasing everyday about a new, more contagious Omicron coronavirus sweeping the globe, and Pres. Biden cautioning Americans to be on-guard to protect themselves against another opportunistic, more aggressive virus, a new report on the impact of previous COVID-19 infectious diseases on low income communities is gaining attention.

The report from the North Carolina Community Action Association  titled “Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Low Income Households and Communities in North Carolina” ( gives a stunning review of just how affected the poor are in the midst of the pandemic, and gives warning to how worse it can be amid the new Omicron pandemic.

The August 2021 report is issued by acclaimed demographer, Dr. Jim Johnson, Jr., the Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at the UNC Kenan-Flagler School at UNC - Chapel Hill, and a research team.

The illuminating report found the following:

1 - The toll in terms of COVID-19 disease contractions and death were disproportionate for North Carolina poor communities.

2- Poor families were forced to make tough choices between maintaining employment amid the pandemic, and personal safety.

3- The requirement of poor families to rely on remote learning shed light on the need for greater broadband access in low wealth communities.

4- The level of stress among families and individuals in poor communities undeniably increased during the pandemic.

5- The demands on government social safety net programs increased during the pandemic, but may times those programs came up short.

6- Poor families and individuals were forced operate outside the box when it come surviving the pandemic.

7- Nonprofit groups did their best to help poor families in their pandemic survival efforts.

8 - Despite highly-touted warnings about the need for COVID-19 vaccine compliance, many poor families and individuals, some out of fear, did not.

Scientists across the world are still studying the new Omicron variant, and more definitive information is expected by next week, but this much is known:

1 - Initial symptoms, based on South African studies where it was first discovered, are “extremely mild,” though the eventual damage to the body still is not known.

    Those symptoms include fatigue, body aches and pains, and a headache along with a scratchy throat. However, thus far, there has been no loss of taste or smell, as with Alpha and Delta coronavirus patients.

2- The disease is cultivated mostly among the unvaccinated, and spread rapidly.

3- it is not known definitively whether the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccines fully protect against the Omicron variant, but doctors say it is still better to have gotten them - plus the booster - than have not, to assure some semblance of viral protection.

The World Health Organization calls Omicron “a variant of concern” because there is a lot about researchers still don’t know. Doctors recommend still wearing your mask, especially inside, and washing your hands.

And please get vaccinated, if you haven’t already.




[RALEIGH] Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, has announced that she is her post effective Dec. 31st. Gov. Roy Cooper has chosen Chief Deputy Sec. Kody Kinsley to replace Dr. Cohen as of January 1st. 2022. Cohen has been NCDHHS Sec. for five years, and is best known for leading the state’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic across the state. “Mandy Cohen has shown extraordinary leadership during her tenure and she has worked every day during this pandemic to help keep North Carolinians healthy and safe,” said Gov. Cooper in a press release.


[RALEIGH] Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson made clear Monday night that he would not tolerate anyone calling him out on his alleged “hate speech” against members of the LGBTQ community when he openly confronted a Democratic senator outside of the state Senate chambers after she made a speech denouncing recent disparaging remarks made by Robinson. Sen. Julie Mayfield (D-Buncombe) didn’t call Robinson out by name, but she said enough for him to feel slighted, and angrily confront her outside the Senate chamber. Robinson has made it known that he is seriously considering a 2024 run for governor.


[CHARLOTTE] As part of her Thanksgiving holiday message, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles announced in a 30-second video that she is running for third term in 2022. Lyles, a moderate Democrat, is the first Black woman ever elected mayor of the Queen City. 


Saturday, November 20, 2021


                                                              G. K.  BUTTERFIELD




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

When First District Congressman G. K. Butterfield announced his unexpected retirement from Congress last week, he blamed it, in part, on a “racially gerrymandered” voting map that will “disadvantage African-American communities all across the first congressional district.”

In short, instead of redrawing Butterfield’s district according to the mandates of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to ensure that black voters in so-called minority-majority districts are able to elect representatives who look like them, Republican lawmakers boasted how they did not use race as a factor at all in redrawing the voting districts, thus, in Rep. Butterfield’s case, making his district more Republican than Democrat, and ultimately, more white than black.

“I am disappointed, terribly disappointed with the Republican majority legislature for again gerrymandering our state's congressional districts and putting their party politics over the best interests of North Carolinians,” Butterfield, one of two African-American North Carolina congresspeople, continued.

If Democrats indeed can prove that Rep. Butterfield’s First District was redrawn more in favor of yielding a Republican, that would violate North Carolina law against partisan redistricting.

If racial gerrymandering can be proven, that would also violate federal law.

North Carolina’s other black Democrat in Congress, Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) called the new congressional map “illegal.”

A quick analysis of the  voting maps Republicans recently produced show that both congressionally and in the state legislature, several black Democratic lawmakers will be eliminated like Butterfield if the maps are allowed to stand.

According to WRAL-TV, for example, “of the 12 black senators in the state Senate, all of whom are Democrats, four are likely or certain to lose their seats in the 2022 elections” to a Republican, because of the new maps.

“In the state House…,” the WRAL-TV report continued, “… five of the 24 black members are at risk or certain to lose their seats next year.”

But Republicans, who are once again tasked with redistricting North Carolina’s 14 Congressional seats, 120 legislative and 50 state Senate districts for the next ten years, claim that they’re doing nothing wrong, and in fact, are following the dictates of the U.S. Supreme Court, which allows for partisan redistricting, and warned the GOP previously about misusing race to “stack and pack” black voters in several minority-majority districts purely to make it easier to defeat white Democrats.

The High Court never said race cannot be a factor in redistricting, just not the major, driving factor in redrawing voting lines.

So it’s no surprise that Democratic analysts see the new Republican maps as lessening Democratic voting strengthen throughout the state.

And in lessening Democratic voting strength, they also dilute black voting strength and representation, since the majority of African-American voters are  Democrats.

Two lawsuits have already been filed against the Republican voting maps.




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

For all of the headlines the new $25.9 billion state budget is making, perhaps the most unnoticed is it’s impact on one of the UNC System HBCU’s for the future.

In the new budget - recently passed by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, and signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper - is the designation of Fayetteville State University as a NC Promise school. The designation now reduces tuition at FSU to just $500.00 per semester.

Previous NC Promise schools include Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), UNC-Pembroke (UNCP) and Western Carolina University (WCU).

According to it’s website, the NC Promise Tuition Plan - created by state lawmakers in 2016 - has , “…increased educational access, reduced student debt, and grown the state’s economy.”

Even though the plan now involves two of the UNC System’s historically Back Colleges and Universities (Elizabeth City State University And Fayetteville State University), it reaches out to native -American, Latino American and low-income White students as well.

In March, 2019, the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal published an article titled, “ NC Promise’s Costs and Benefits: An Early Analysis,” Beyond tuition savings, other benefits have come about from NC Promise. UNCP’s  enrollment increased by nearly 900 new students, and it also improved standardized testing scores and freshman retention went up by five percent. Whether this increase in student academic quality can be sustained or repeated at other schools remains to be seen, but it should be noted by policymakers in evaluating NC Promise’s success.”

The article also noted that questions remained regarding NC Promise’s on-time graduation rate, which averages in-system at six-years for students who start at NC Promise schools.

“ECSU had an abysmal graduation rate of 43.4 percent in 2017, in addition to poor performance in a variety of other academic and student financial measures. UNCP, too, struggled with a 48.5 percent graduation rate. WCU fared better with a 64.4 percent graduation rate, still below the system average of 68.8 percent.”

The article surmised, “Pushing students to underwhelming regional campuses is a risky move if the state’s goal is to educate them for post-graduate success.”

In an unrelated aspect of the new budget, it provides $650,000 towards the construction of the North Carolina Freedom Park, the African-American sculpture park being planned for between the state Legislative building and Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh.




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

When former North Carolina inmate Dontae Sharpe was finally granted a gubernatorial pardon of innocence two weeks ago, the volume was immediately turned up on the argument about why did he have to wait over two years to receive the legal opportunity to petition the state for compensation? After all, Sharpe had already spent 26 years for a crime he didn’t commit.

If prosecutors and a judge legally determined back in August 2019 that there was no evidence pertaining to Sharpe’s previous conviction and life sentence for first-degree murder - a crime that later evidence shows he did not commit - why was it mandatory for Gov. Roy Cooper, the Office of Executive Clemency and Office of General Council, to reexamine the entire case, including the exculpatory evidence, and take over two years to do it?

The short answer is…because that’s the law in North Carolina. 

Under North Carolina law, only the governor has the constitutional power to grant one of three types of pardons  - pardon of forgiveness meaning the convicted offender will still have a criminal record after meeting certain conditions; unconditional pardon, traditionally meaning that the individual has retained the right to own a firearm; and a pardon of innocence, which erases the criminal record of the crime the individual was falsely convicted of. 

A pardon of innocence, granted after charges are subsequently dismissed after a conviction, is required before a falsely convicted individual is eligible for compensation from the state for a wrongful incarceration. They are responsible for making sure the court expunges their criminal record.

A person who receives a pardon of innocence is entitled to compensation from the State up $50,000 a year for every year of false incarceration, topping off at $750,000. There is a time limit after an innocent person is released from prison for him/her to apply for and close, their compensation.

In Dontae Sharpe’s case, the state was petitioned for a pardon of innocence after his release in August 2019. Ordinarily after an application is made, the Office of Executive Clemency and Office of the General Counsel investigate the case, and the governor hears from all involved before making a decision. How long that should take is based on the case.

Activists want the compensation to be available upon dismissal of the charges, if anything to add certainty to when compensation would be available.

This is an issue Sharpe has vowed to work toward in order to improve the process for other innocent prisoners.

One man who knows that law better than most is North Carolina Central University School of Law Professor Irving Joyner.

Joyner was a defense attorney for the Wilmington Ten, a group of activists who were falsely convicted in 1972 of firebombing a white-owned grocery store, and sent to prison. It took over forty years before evidence emerged that their prosecutions were phony, meaning that serving members had to live with a life-destroying felony on their records for over forty years.

In 2012, Joyner was one of two attorneys who worked to get the Wilmington Ten pardons of innocence, and the surviving members due compensation. In light of the Dante Sharpe episode, Joyner says the system does need to be changed.

I would agree that where a person has been judicially determined to have been wrongfully convicted that the legal process should allow for immediate compensation for the harm that the individual was forced to endure,” Atty.Joyner said in a statement. “This is different than when the validity of a conviction is left to the Governor to decide.”

“It does not make sense to force a wrongfully convicted person to have to, once again, prove to the Governor that they were wrongfully convicted in order to be compensated for the time that they spent in confinement after there has already been a determination by a Judge that a wrongful conviction occurred.”

Joyner continued, “ Another and bigger issue, however, is capping compensation at a specific amount or number of years irrespective of how long the person was wrongfully incarcerated. If $50,000 per year is the designated amount, the wrongfully convicted person should be compensated for each year of their incarceration. The notion is how do we make the person “whole” and fully compensated for all of the harm that they were forced to endure.”

“In too many instances, North Carolina law does not allow for full compensation when the State is responsible for the harm that a person endured,” Atty. Joyner said, adding, “The Dontae Sharpe experience is just one example of that when he spent 26 years in prison, but compensation is capped at $750,000. There is another 11 years of his wrongful confinement or harm for which he is not being compensated. That result is wrong and should be addressed by the General Assembly.”




[CARTHAGE] Moore County authorities are investigating a telephone threat left on the voice mail of the Moore County public school system in September after the school board there passed a COVID-19 mask mandate for students. The expletive-filled message said, in part, “…we are going to come for you.” In July, one person was topped bringing a knife and a loaded gun to a school board meeting.


[RALEIGH] A renowned NC State economist  says October’s seasonally -adjusted unemployment for North Carolina fell to a “very strong” 4.1 percent. Dr. Michael Walden says the latest jobless data shows that North Carolina’s unemployment rate has fallen to it’s lowest level since March 2020. Walden adds that more people are joining the workforce, and hourly wages rose, all good signs that North Carolina is coming out of the pandemic.


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] Washington, D.C. is no longer a place where Democrats and Republicans work together in respectful harmony, opines outgoing NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield. Instead, the partisan battles in Capitol Hill today are bitter and personal, which saddens Butterfield, who announce his retirement last week after serving in Congress since 2004. "The days of civility have left us, and we now find ourselves in very toxic, divisive debate," he told WRAL-TV. "We cannot have toxic and divisive debate and survive the institution. The institution depends on civility, and we don't have civility today in Washington."


Sunday, November 14, 2021


                                                           DONTAE SHARPE



By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Now that Gov. Cooper has granted Dontae Sharpe a pardon of innocence for a murder he was erroneously convicted of in July 1995, and served 26 years in prison for, the question remains - why did it take so long after Sharpe was released in August 2019?

That question lingers for Sharpe, and many other falsely convicted behind prison walls who await the courts to clear them for crimes they did not commit. 

“My freedom ain’t still complete. Know that our system is corrupt and needs to be changed ,” Sharpe said during a Zoom press conference last Friday. “I’m thankful that I got mine and thankful that other guys are gonna get theirs. That’s what important now.”

To say it has been one long hell for Montoyae Dontae Sharpe is an understatement.

The Charlotte native was a 18-year-old teenager when he was arrested and charged in the 1994 fatal shooting of George Radcliffe in Greenville during what police at the time alleged was a drug deal gone bad. Sharpe denied all charges, adding that he wasn’t even at the scene, but that didn’t stop a Greenville jury from convicting him of first-degree murder despite no forensic evidence tying him to the crime.

Sharpe was sentenced to life in prison despite his denials. He also rejected all deals to shorten his sentence if he admitted to the crime,  saying that he deserved a new trial where he could prove his innocence.

It wasn’t until 2019 when attorneys working on Sharpe’s behalf uncovered exculpatory evidence proving that Dontae Sharpe  could not have committed the crime, including evidence that false testimony was given in the original trial.

A Greenville judge released Sharpe from prison after Greenville prosecutors said they could not retry him, based on the new evidence available. Sharpe’s devoted mother and family, who had asked the NC NAACP to help in the cause, were grateful for his release. 

Sharpe’s long awaited victory was celebrated by leaders who long advocated for him even when he was still in prison.

“I am elated and overcome with joy,” exclaimed NC NAACP Pres. Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, who notably spent several Friday afternoons camped out in front of the Governor’s Mansion in downtown Raleigh protesting the delay on Sharpe being granted a pardon of innocence.

Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach, and co-convener of the national Poor People’s Campaign, was president of the NC NAACP when the civil right organization first took up Sharpe’s cause over five years ago.

He also paid tribute to Sharpe and his family for their faith and long suffering, Rev. Spearman for picking up the advocacy mantle after he left the NC NAACP, and attorney Catlain Swain and the progressive advocacy legal group Forward Together of Durham for fighting for Sharpe’s release.

Rev. Barber also suggested that Gov. Cooper meet with Dontae Sharpe “man to man” one day to talk about the true injustices of North Carolina’s criminal justice system.

"Mr. Sharpe and others who have been wrongly convicted deserve to have that injustice fully and publicly acknowledged," Gov. Cooper said in a statement last Friday.


                                                            GREG SMITH





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Gregory Smith is intent on making sure that the state of Missouri knows that it messed with the wrong black man when a state trooper there allegedly racially profiled the Fayetteville medical director during a visit there last August in the middle of the night.

That’s why instead of a November 9th traffic court hearing via video hookup, Smith is now preparing for an April 18, 2022 trial in Platte County, Missouri to prove that when he was stopped, it was because he was driving while black. 

Not because he had broken any laws.

Smith was arrested for allegedly resisting an officer after he flew to Missouri three months ago for a medical conference. He claims that he was threatened with violence by a trooper, roughly handcuffed, unjustly charged $1,040 for a ticket for resisting the officer, and forced to walk six miles in the dark of night to find his rental car, which authorities left at a gas station that distance from the Highway Patrol station.

Smith was hoping that a black attorney he hired there would be ready to fight the false arrest for him, especially since Missouri is well-known in recent years for vigorously racially profiling African-American drivers. But the black attorney he initially hired show little interest in actually fighting the bogus charge against Smith, he says.

“Ridiculous that I have to constantly contact this guy for updates,” Smith said recently by text. “I’ll have to find a different attorney there to sue them.”

So intent was Gregory Smith to fight what he saw was a serious racial injustice, that he also submitted formal complaints with the Missouri Governor’s Office, Missouri Attorney General’s Office, and the ACLU of Missouri.

Plus, Smith says he also spoke with a retired Missouri NAACP attorney about securing someone there to sue the Highway Patrol.

“We ll have to bring this stuff into the biggest light, and put a stop to it, as best we can,” Smith said.

One of the reasons why Smith was so disenchanted with his initial attorney, as he said, is because he was being kept in the dark about what was going on with his case. On the morning of the November 9th hearing, Smith texted, “ I’m so in the dark. I sent the attorney another email this [morning] asking for an update. I sent one two weeks ago so I would know if I needed to book flight, or whether this was going to be a video hearing? He just sent a response earlier saying it’s a video hearing. He still hasn’t sent me the link for it…yet.”

“I am a bit disenchanted with this black attorney,” Smith continued. “Not sure he’s really on my team. It appears he just wanted the money just to go through the motions, just to be paid to address the ticket.”

“I’ll ride through it, and continue pursuing justice.”

And hour later, a frustrated Smith texted this reporter, “ I have patients on my schedule, and I still don’t know what time this court hearing is today. I requested info over a week ago, so as to coordinate my patient schedule.”

Smith continued that “…this is very poor on behalf of this BLACK male attorney I’ve retained. This is unacceptable….”

It would be later on that Smith would text again, indicating that he requested a trial in Platte County, Missouri for Monday, April 18, 2022.

With a full-on trial, as opposed to just a traffic court hearing, Smith believes, along with a different attorney, that not only will he be able to testify about his harrowing racial profiling experience on August 6th, but also call at least one witness - the 9-1-1 operator who was on duty at the time when he called on his cellphone, and left it on so that she could both hear and record the tense exchange between him and the threatening trooper.

Smith might also be able to call as a witness the overnight store clerk  he spoke with when he had to ask directions for getting to his rental car, and told that it was six miles away, six miles he would have to walk.

And Smith should be able to enter into the record the emergency room report about injuries he sustained from the tight handcuffs that were placed on him at the time of his arrest.

He is hoping that both the 9-1-1 recording and a dash cam video of his trooper encounter still exists so that the judge and/or jury can hear and see the threatening exchange, and also hear that the trooper never read Smith his rights upon arrest.

“I’m making it a big deal, not just to dismiss the ticket,” Smith wrote.



                                           REV. DR. BENJAMIN CHAVIS



By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

[WILMINGTON] Saying that, “Healing starts in the mind. You’ve got to want to heal,” the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, leader of the Wilmington Ten, joined others November 10th commemorating the 123rd anniversary of the 1898 Wilmington Race Massacre in urging those attending a special “Unity” service at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church to “heal forward.”

“I believe that Wilmington is a better city because we finally decided that we’re not only going to study the past, but learn from the past and we decided we’re going to live a different kind of future,” Chavis, also the president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), said.

“There’s something about this city…, there’s such great potential, such great promise,” Dr. Chavis continued. “But the forces of racism, the forces of oppression, the forces of economic exploitation would try to keep us divided so we think each other is the enemy. 

“If Wilmington, North Carolina can have a healing, I believe America can have a healing,” .

As a member of the Wilmington Ten, Rev. Chavis, along with nine other activists, was falsely accused in 1971 of firebombing a white-owned grocery store during riots in the city. The following year, they were all convicted and sentenced to prison. Their prison sentences would be shortened in 1977 by then Gov. Jim Hunt, but it would take over forty years in 2012 for them to receive pardons of innocence from then Gov. Beverly Perdue.

Dr. Chavis has led the NNPA - a national association of Black-owned newspapers - for the past several years.

Also speaking at the unity service were newly re-elected Mayor Bill Saffo, NC NAACP President-elect Deborah Dicks-Maxwell, also currently the president of the New Hanover County Chapter of the NAACP, and Ms. Bertha Todd, a 92-year-old local historian and retired educator who was among the the first during the 100th anniversary of the Wilmington Race Massacre to lead a commemoration, and also work to create the 1898 Memorial Park in 2008.

The unity service was the culmination of ten days of important events commemorating the 123 anniversary of the Wilmington 1898 Race Massacre, where white supremacists violently took over the city government, and relentlessly killed blacks, and forced other to flee for their lives, in order to take power. The bloody, racist event ushered in the infamous Jim Crow era throughout the South.




[WILMINGTON] Why were five members of the white supremacist group The Proud Boys present at the Nov. 10th NH county School Board meeting? They never said anything, but with handkerchiefs across their faces, they stood and applauded every time a speaker addressed the board opposing the mask mandate. Official say the members have the right to attend school board meetings, as long as they aren’t violent.


[BLADEN COUNTY] The man who authorities say was at the heart of the 2018 absentee ballot scandal in Bladen County has rejected a plea deal in the case. McCrae Dowless has until the end of November to one year in prison and five years probation if he pleads guilty to all charges stemming from his alleged election ballot fraud scheme that forced the 2018 congressional elections be redone. If Dowless,65, rejects the deal, he’ll go one trial next year.


[RALEIGH] First the Wake Public School System bus drivers refused to work last week until they got a pay hike. This week, cafeteria workers in 30 Wake County schools warned parents to pack their children lunches because there would be no lunch service for them until they saw higher pay. The Wake School Board had already approved a $1,250 bonus for full-time employees, and a smaller one for part-timers.


Sunday, November 7, 2021



                      HEADSTONE FOR 1898 VICTIM, JOSHUA HALSEY



By Cash Michaels

Staff writer

In the midst of a present-day nation raging whether the truth should be taught about how Black people have historically been treated…amidst solemn, darkened clouds and a persistent rain…..the name of Joshua Halsey was uttered once again in Wilmington last Saturday.

But this time,  it was in reverence and honor, as mourners came together to give a funeral for one of the many confirmed Black victims of the bloody 1898 Wilmington Race Massacre, as part of the 123rd commemoration activities this month sponsored by New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington.

Driven by the courage of a Black community who never forgot, Wilmington was once the largest, most prosperous city in North Carolina after the Civil War in the 1890s, a place where Blacks thrived in government, commerce, the arts and more. But the Democratic white power structure of the day decided it had seen enough, and violently overthrew Wilmington City government and firebombing the prominent Black newspaper, The Daily Record, killing African-Americans like Joshua Halsey in the process, and holding the Port City up as a symbol of white supremacy, and power.

It was the only successful coup d’etat in American history…a history today the many prefer not be taught to in schools. But there is no denying that the 1898 Wilmington Race Massacre signaled the beginning of the Jim Crow South.

There was a procession to Pine Forest Cemetery Saturday, a service, and a gravesite with headstone, where the Bishop William Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach, and co-chair of the national Poor People’s Campaign, delivered the long overdue eulogy for Halsey.

“We have to do something more than just stand out here in the rain and hold hands,” Bishop Barber said. “We’ve got to listen to the blood.”

“We were in shock, because this is so unprecedented,” Elaine Cynthia Brown, a Halsey descendent, told CNN, adding that the entire experience was “surreal” for the family.

“Why not be the beacon of what can happen when we sort of unearth the truth, uncover the truth and unpack it?” Ms. Brown continued. 

As other descendants of Halsey looked on, Bishop Barber spoke of the horror of this local history, and the fact that the 40-year African-American, man represented an untold number of Blacks who were killed by rabid white supremacists 123 years ago this month, all because they could not stand the thought of sharing power with them. When the wanton violence broke out on November 10, 1898, Halsey and other Blacks hid in the swamps surrounding the cemetery for safety, only to find death.

“The only way to honor Joshua and all those who were murdered like him is to understand we don’t heal because we have a funeral, “ Bishop Barber said. “We heal when we listen to their voices.” 

Joshua Halsey spent over the last century in an unmarked grave, his remains discovered on handwritten maps only after painstaking work by historical researchers with the nonprofit Third Project, who say there are more unmarked graves of 1898 black victims to be discovered.

But Bishop Barber made clear that we are seeing the same hate-filled white supremacist mindset today that threatens the very existence of Black and justice-loving people, as we did in 1898.

“We must find the vestiges of systemic racism that are still happening today and that are still going on today,” Bishop Barber said. “And we must call them out in Joshua’s name. I’m here to tell you that what killed Joshua is still alive today.”


                                                                REP. ALMA ADAMS



By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

To no one’s surprise, Republican state lawmakers have drawn new congressional voting districts that strongly favor their elections for the next decade.

And to no one’s surprise, Democrats have blasted the GOP voting districts for how slanted they are, and are full supportive of vigorously challenging them in court.

In fact, U.S. Rep. Alma Adams called the new Congressional maps “an illegal political gerrymander.”

Both the state House and Senate voted last week to approve the congressional voting map, as well as ratify the state legislative maps.. The congressional maps will govern how 14 congressional districts across the state will be reapportioned or carved up, producing congressional representation in the U.S. House. Currently, 13 voting districts consist of 8 Republicans and 5 Democrats. (13). But with population growth adding one more congressional district thanks to the 2020 U.S. Census, Republicans saw fit to draw a new map with either a 10 Republican - 4 Democrat, or 11-3 advantage for the 2022 congressional elections and beyond.

Republicans have shrewdly stayed away from saying anything about the partisan breakdown of any of the voting district maps for Congress, the state House or state Senate, preferring not to give Democrats or progressive advocacy groups like the NC NAACP anything to hang their legal hats on, instead insisting that the map drawing process has been “transparent.”

The same is true about the lack of use of racial data in the drawing of the maps, something the GOP erroneously swears the courts prohibit them not to do (the federal courts have cited the GOP for racial gerrymandering, or  “stack and packing” black voters in majority-minority districts so that they can’t help white Democrats win close elections.).

The lopsided congressional maps run counter to the fact that North Carolina remains very much a purple state - with a 50-50 Democrat to Republican statewide voter breakdown.

At least one analysis has the First Congressional District, currently represented by African-American Congressman G. K. Butterfield, flip so that it is more competitive for Republicans.

Last Friday, a group founded by Democratic attorney Marc Elias called Democracy Docket, reportedly filed suit in state court against the North Carolina congressional map, calling it “insensible” and a “grotesque partisan gerrymander.”

A lawsuit challenging the Republican congressional map from former U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee was also filed in Wake Superior Court November 5.

In a statement, the current five Democratic congresspeople - G. K. Butterfield (1st-NC), Deborah Ross (NC02), David Price (4th-NC), Kathy Manning (06-NC) and Alma Adams (12th-NC) supported the litigation.

“We fully support this effort to ensure voters have fair congressional districts once and for all. The Re-led North Carolina General Assembly has once again deliberately silenced large numbers of voters to create politically and racially imbalanced maps that provide a baked-in advantage for Republicans.”

Over on the legislative side, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice has already filed a lawsuit challenging the lack of racial data in maps for the state House and Senate.

“Even if it imperils my seat, we can’t allow General Assembly Republicans to subvert our democracy,” Rep. Alma Adams said. “These maps must be taken to court, and they must be overturned.”




[FAYETTEVILLE] In a letter issued Tuesday, Tisha Waddell resigned from the Fayetteville City Council after alleging that Mayor Mitch Colvin and other council members engaged in unethical behavior that she felt should be investigated. For his part, Mayor Colvin accused Waddell of a smear campaign against him.  Waddell replied that Colvin and other members of the Council were ‘dismissive’ of the issues she raided.


[RALEIGH] At least one North Carolina public official was very pleased that Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe for Virginia governor last week. North Carolina State Supt. Catherine Truitt, a Republican,  tweeted the voices of parents were heard loud and clear in that election, one where Youngkin promised to eliminate so-called critical race theory from the statewide public school curriculum. Supt. Truitt pledged to “continue to fight for these basic principles in NC.”


[CHAPEL HILL]  Thanks to law students at the UNC - Chapel Hill Military and Veteran Law Clinic, Vietnam veteran John Spencer, an African-American, can hold his head up with pride again. Decades ago, Spencer had been dishonorably discharge from military service due to alleged misconduct. That affected Spencer’s ability to receive military benefits, and proved to be a shame to his family. But in 2018, the law students at the UNC Law Clinic began investigating, and recently, thanks to their work, it was determined that Spencer was the victim of racial discrimination. His military benefits were restored, and he was also awarded the Purple Heart for bravery, his combat infantrymen badge and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross. Mr. Spencer’s discharge was also change to “honorable.” He tanked the UNC law students, and said he thought he’d never see the day when the truth would be revealed.