Monday, April 25, 2022



                                         DARRYL HOWARD (WRAL-TV SCREEN GRAB)




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

According to Darryl Anthony Howard, he has been legally proven not guilty of two murders after spending over 21 years of an 80 year sentence in prison; has receive a pardon of innocence from Governor Roy Cooper; and had a federal jury award him $6 million in damages against the city of Durham.

So where’s the money?

The city of Durham, per it’s City Council, has decided it’s not paying Howard a penny despite the fact that it was it’s police detective who lied to convict Howard in 1995, legally depriving the Black man of his civil rights. As far as the Durham City Council is concerned, that now retired detective, Darrell Dowdy, is the one who owes Darryl Howard $6 million, even though the City of Durham has spent $4 million defending Det. Dowdy in court.

How did this happen, and could it happen again.

It has almost become commonplace in North Carolina for Black men falsely convicted of crimes 30 - 40 years ago, to be legally determined not guilty after recent re-examination of the facts in their cases, be released from prison after many years, and granted pardons of innocence by the governor.

Usually the subsequent argument is that the $750,000 restitution from the state is not enough to make up for the many years lost spent in prison. Families, promising careers, freedom - all lost because of the actions of overzealous and racist police and prosecutors.

In Darryl Howard’s case,  he was convicted of murdering a 29 year-old mother and her 13-year-old daughter in their Durham apartment in 1991 after sexually assaulting them. Howard was also convicted in 1995 of then setting their bodies on fire.

No DNA or physical evidence linking Howard to the crime was ever recovered. There was an eyewitness who later recanted his testimony. But it was enough over twenty years ago to convict Darryl Howard of two counts of second degree murder and one count of arson.

He was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

In 2014, a Durham judge vacated Howard’s conviction. The state appealed that order, prompting the Innocence Project to take Howard’s case, proving in 2016 that he was indeed not guilty. Howard was now 58. Gov. Cooper later granted him a pardon of innocence in 2021.

Howard then sued the city of Durham in federal court for violation of his civil rights. He asked for $48 million to account for over two decades of his life taken.

After only an hour of deliberation, the jury awarded $6 million in damages to Howard last December.

The story typically ends there, but this one didn’t.

The Durham City Council held a series of closed meetings from last December through February, ultimately deciding not to pay the $6 million.

Why? It was one of Durham’s police detectives who reportedly conducted “ a poorly run investigation” and “violated Howard’s civil rights by fabricating evidence.” And it was Detective Darrell Dowdy, who spent 36 years working for the Durham Police Dept. before retirement, who lied to convict Howard.

According to Durham City Attorney Kim Rehberg, North Carolina General Statute 160A-167 Defense of employees and officers; payment of judgements says “The city neither has to defend nor pay the judgement for a city employee or former city employee who acted or failed to act because of actual fraud, corruption or actual malice on his part.” 

Nothing in this section shall be deemed to require any city, authority, or county to pay any claim or judgment referred to herein… the statute continues.

Attorney and NCCU Law Professor Irving Joyner concurs, saying that in federal civil rights cases,claims under 42 U.S.C Section 1983 must find that a municipality, by its specific conduct, has violated a person’s right before it is liable for money damages. It seems unfair, but the law requires a jury’s conclusion that the municipality engaged in the conduct which caused the unlawful conduct by this police officer. Merely being the employer is not enough to establish that liability on the part of the City. In this case, the legal conclusion was that the city of Durham did not violate Howard’s rights and specifically concluded that the police officer was solely responsible for Howard’s conviction. As such, the City is not legally required to pay this judgment since it did not order the officer to commit the wrongful acts against Mr. Howard nor did the City endorse that conduct.

In short, former Det. Dowdy, not the city of Durham, is responsible for his unauthorized behavior in the Darryl Howard case. So Darryl Howard’s attorneys have to get the $6 million from him.

Atty. Rehberg added that the city of Durham made several “substantial settlement offers” before the trial that were “remarkably close” to what the jury ultimately awarded him.

Because the jury had also decided that Det. Dowdy engaged in “fabrication of evidence and bad faith failure to investigate,” that cleared the city of responsibility or obligation, she maintains.

Darryl Howard’s attorneys interpret GS 160A-167 differently, saying that once the city of Durham decided to spent $4 million in taxpayers money defending the retired detective in court, it automatically assumed liability.

Still,  Howard’s attorneys have to now go after whatever assets the retired Dowdy has to make good on the $6 million damage award. The city of Durham will not pay anything.

"Everybody thinks they just give [the money] to you," Howard told WRAL-TV. ”And everybody [else does] get it. But for some reason, they just want to refuse me and I don't understand that."





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

African-Americans take note - don’t stop wearing that mask around work and shopping centers just yet.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new warning last week about the latest coronavirus omicron subvariant that is quickly growing across the nation.

It’s officially called BA.2.12.1, an offshoot of the BA.2 omicron variant, and it accounts for approximately 1 in five new coronavirus cases across the country. Seventy-five percent of new cases are BA.2, say researchers.

What makes BA.2.12.1 notable is that it is more transmissible than BA.2, which doctors have already deemed even more transmissible that the original coronavirus.

Thus far, there is not enough evidence to show BA.2.12.1 causes a more severe disease, or more hospitalizations, but that could change as cases rise.

Experts say expect more COVID-19 variants to mutate in the near future, and caution that the best defense, even if you are fully vaccinated, is to continue to wear protective face masks in enclosed areas outside of the home around unfamiliar people to help cut down on transmission.

It has been established that even fully vaccinated people can still contract COVID, but many are able to avoid the severe effects.

Still, a lot depends on a person’s initial health condition. For many, because of their age or condition due to diabetes or weakened immune system, doctors strongly recommend a second booster shot, which should be available from their primary doctor or local health clinic.

All of this flies in the face of a recent ruling by a federal District  judge mandating that masks are no longer required for air travel.

The CDC was blunt in its response to the ruling.

"The Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disagree with the district court's decision and will appeal, subject to CDC's conclusion that the order remains necessary for public health," a spokesperson said. "The Department continues to believe that the order requiring masking in the transportation corridor is a valid exercise of the authority Congress has given CDC to protect the public health. That is an important authority the Department will continue to work to preserve."

Within the past two years since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States, African-Americans have proven to be twice as likely to contract the coronavirus, and twice as likely to die from it because of prior poor health conditions.


Monday, April 18, 2022







By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

This was just one of the many sad facts discussed during last week’s Fifth Annual Black Maternal Health Week activities - “regardless of educational levels or socioeconomic status, women of color in North Carolina are three to four times more likely to face complications during pregnancy than non-Hispanic white women.” 

Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, is among those in Congress who want something done about this.

"Maternal health in America is in crisis," said Adams last week during Black Maternal Health week.”Like so many crises, the maternal mortality crisis hits Black America hardest."

Adams is one of the co-sponsors of House Resolution 959, a bill that directs the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services to address the social determinants of maternal health, “…which include child care, housing, food security, transportation, and environmental conditions.”

“The bill also extends to 24 months postpartum eligibility for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children,” it says.

"The black maternal health crisis is preventable," Adams continued. "This momnibus (legislation) will save the lives of Black women and children and improve outcomes for all mothers."

Rep. Adams was not alone in her sentiments last week to improve the state of Black maternal health. Vice Pres. Kamala Harris, an early proponent of the cause, joined the Charlotte - Mecklenburg House member in leading over 110 co-sponsors, including Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in a resolution to raise national awareness of the state of Black maternal health.

As a U.S. senator, Harris introduced the first congressional resolution recognizing Black Maternal Health Week along with Adams and Underwood in 2018. That led to the founding of the Black Maternal Health Caucus.

“In our nation, we are looking at the fact that more women are facing death because of childbirth than in any other developed nation,” Harris told reporters last week. “We are looking at the likelihood that Black women are three times more likely to die in connection with childbirth, that Native women are twice as likely to die, that rural women are one and a half times more likely to die.”

VP Harris wants to invest half a billion dollars into reducing maternal and morbidity rates.

“The more we can elevate this issue…,” says Harris, “ I think the more we will accomplish that, which is to let women know that when it comes to their reproductive health, when it comes to their pregnancy and anything that they are experiencing in connection with that, they do not have to suffer, and they certainly must not silently suffer, because there is a whole system that has been designed to help them. And so, let’s hold the system accountable to do its job.”




By Cash Michaels
An analysis

        Last year, when Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed the passage of House Bill 324 - what some called the anti-critical race theory bill - many thought Republican attempts to stop teachers from teaching the truth about systemic racism in American history were defeated.

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a Black Guilford County Republican, opined then that the bill “…was the first step in combating Critical Race Theory [CRT] being forced upon our children in NC public schools.” And Republican legislative leaders blasted Cooper for stopping a law they say would have prohibited teachers from “…promoting the belief that the United States was founded by members of a particular race or sex to oppress people of another race or sex.”

As long as Gov. Cooper remains in office, there’s little chance that any similar bill will be made law here in North Carolina. But Cooper leaves office in 2024 after two terms, and anyone who has been paying attention  knows that Lt. Gov. Robinson is eager to take his place.

In fact, Robinson has said that he is “95 percent” sure that he will be running to succeed Cooper. And if that happens, and Republicans continue their streak of remaining in power in the state legislature through 2024, which they have done since 2011, then what is to stop so-called anti-Critical Race Theory legislation or worse, from becoming law in North Carolina?

For that answer, look no further than 600 miles to the south, and the state of Florida.

Just within the past week, jaw-dropping stories of legislative and administrative restrictions on the teaching of anything that even remotely smacks of CRT have been coming out of the “Sunshine” state.

Last Friday, CNN reported that the Florida Department of Education banned more than 50 of 132 mathematics textbook submissions - 41% - for addition to the state’s approved textbook list for use in Florida public schools because, among other things, the books made reference to CRT.

Critical Race Theory has been officially banned in Florida public schools since June 2021.

But Florida didn’t stop there.

Last week, the Florida Senate Education Committee approved  Senate Bill 148 that would make it illegal for any discussions in schools or private businesses that could cause “discomfort” to white people.

“An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race,” according to the bill’s text.

By definition, that could include banning discussions about slavery in Black barbershops if a white person is present, to what a Black person read about Florida’s racial history in a Black newspaper and discusses at work where white fellow employees are within earshot.

There’s no question that North Carolina Republicans, infamous for previously passing voting rights restrictions that targeted African-Americans with “surgical precision” (in the words of a federal court) are closely watching what is being accomplished in Florida and five other states that have banned the teaching of CRT, the 1619 Project or anything else that might make white people, young or old, feel “bad.”

But why?

“Republican attacks on CRT are a placeholder for what they really detest — what they consider the inordinate focus on racial issues such as Black Lives Matter,” wrote Bob Kustra last Sunday in the Idaho Statesman. “Or they fear there is a plan — replacement theory as they call it — to “replace them” with people of color. Brandishing CRT enables them to silence classroom discussions of racism, social justice and the history of race, without having to acknowledge that is their goal. CRT becomes the bogeyman to get it done.”


Sunday, April 10, 2022





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

        With Pres. Biden and Vice President. Kamala Harris standing at her side outside of the White House Friday, newly confirmed U.S. Supreme Court "Justice" Ketanji Brown Jackson proudly shared her glee with the world.

        "It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, an elected "Justice" Jackson said. 

        "But we've made it. We've made it, all of us."

        This is a powerful moment that signals progress for our country, and my congratulations are with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who will bring an important voice to the Supreme Court,” exclaimed former NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, now running for the U.S. Senate, last Thursday in the aftermath of the dramatic U.S. Senate confirmation of now "Justice" Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

        But what happens next?

For all intents and purposes, the first Black woman ever confirmed to the nation’s highest court can either continue to serve on the District of Columbia’s U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals until the justice she’s replacing, Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, steps down at the end of the Supreme Court term in late June/early July, or “Justice” Jackson can take the next few months off until the Breyer seat becomes open, and she's sworn in.

Either way, Pres. Biden’s historic nominee was confirmed last week with all 50 Democratic senators voting “yea,” and three moderate Republican senators - Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah - joining them.

That didn’t stop their 47 Republican colleagues, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KTY) from displaying little respect for “Justice” Jackson after the confirmation vote, walking out of the chamber during the applause from Democrat and  supporters.

Both North Carolina GOP senators - Thom Tillis and Richard Burr- walked with them after also voting no.

Two other Republican senators - Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky, wouldn’t even vote from the Senate floor because of inappropriate attire and tardiness.

Still, top North Carolinians joined the rest of the nation in hailing the confirmation of “Justice” Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Today is a historic and joyful day for our country and for North Carolina. Justice Jackson is a brilliant legal mind with the utmost character and integrity,” said N.C. Democratic Party Chair Bobbie Richardson. “She will make an exceptional Supreme Court Justice and has made history as the first Black woman on the highest court. 

“I am also proud that Judge Jackson, as the first Black woman and the first public defender to serve on the highest court in the land, will be an inspiration to young people of all backgrounds that with hard work, dedication to service, and compassion for others, there are no limits to what a person can achieve in our great country,” said Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1).

“Justice Jackson is yet another example of the role Historically Black Colleges and Universities play in the social and economic mobility of Black Americans, " added Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12). "Both of Jackson’s parents attended HBCUs, including North Carolina Central University, creating the opportunity for their daughter to attend Harvard. Now, for the first time, a daughter of HBCU graduates is joining the Supreme Court. I join millions of Americans in sharing in the pride that Justice Jackson’s parents feel today.”





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Three of the UNC System’s five historically Black colleges and universities have had their out-of -state student admissions caps raised by the UNC Board of Governors.

The caps at N.C. A&T University and North Carolina Central University were raised from 25% each to 35% , and to 50% at Elizabeth City State University on April 7th, starting the following semester year. 

The caps at Fayetteville State University and Winston-Salem State University will remain at 25%..

The reason is simple. HBCUs have been lobbying for the ability to attract more talented students from across the nation to their campuses for  a long time. Raising the caps allows each school to build their enrollments, which is key to their success.

NCCU, for example, experienced a 1% enrollment drop-off in fall 2021, and is hoping to course correct with the new cap.

The out-of-state cap at most other UNC System schools is maintained at 18% in order to ensure that North Carolinians who qualify to attend to the UNC school of their choice are able to do so.

By raising the caps at N.C. A&T, NCCU and ECSU, the UNC Board of Governors hope that out-of-state students (who usually have higher GPAs) will stay in the state after graduation, adding to the skilled and highly educated talent pool that incoming industries like Apple Computer are looking for.

All of this is happening as North Carolina’s HBCUs are experiencing a post-pandemic renaissance. Many have received record financial gifts for their programs and curricula. Others are experiencing unprecedented growth.

For example N.C. A&T University in Greensboro - the largest HBCU in the nation - opened the Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex in February - a five-year, 130,000 square foot project that is expected to produce even more Black engineers in the coming years.

In addition, NC A&T University received $5 million from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott in 2020. That, in addition to the $181.4 million capital campaign the school ran ending in 2021.





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

The celebration was short for over 56,000 ex-felon in North Carolina who hail a recent Superior Court ruling clearing the way for them to vote starting in next moth’s primaries.

The NC Court of Appeals last week issued a temporary stay order of that ruling, blocking any ex-felon who had not completed all required elements of their sentence from registering to vote until the appeal from Republican legislative leaders is resolved.

“The Superior Court has issued an injunction that is plainly irreconcilable with the North Carolina Constitution,” according to the GOP legislators appeal. “Under Article VI, Sec. 2, anyone convicted of a felony may not vote ‘unless that person shall be first restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law.’ The Superior Court held unconstitutional the ‘manner prescribed by law,’ … meaning that felons serving sentences outside of prison now have no lawful means of regaining their voting rights and thus remain disenfranchised.”

Anticipating that an appeal would be granted quickly, the NC Board of Elections instructed local election boards not to accept any new voter registration forms from former felons.

Plaintiffs in the case, Community Success Initiative v. Moore, haven’t wasted much time either.

Last week, they asked the State Supreme Court to take the case from the state appellate court, hoping that if it does, it would overrule the appellate court order.

“Plaintiffs seek discretionary review from this [Supreme] Court given the exceptional importance and urgency of the appeal, and of Legislative Defendants’ Petition for a Writ of Supersedeas, which has the potential to create immense confusion before the May 2022 primary election and cause substantial and irreparable harm,” wrote lead plaintiff’s attorney Daryl Atkinson of Forward Together in his brief submitted to the Supreme Court.

The case, formally known as Community Success Initiative v Moore, was a lawsuit filed in 2019, arguing that North Carolina ’s felony disenfranchisement laws were unconstitutional because they were originally instituted to keep Black people from voting.

The judicial  panel voted 2-1 that the 50-year-old law, which made former felons who completed their sentences ineligible to vote, was racist because it made them pay the state fees before they could regain their voting rights.

Plaintiffs in the case won in 2021, only to have the NC Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court temporarily restrict the ruling only to ex-felons who registered to vote between August 23rd through Sept. 3, 2021 in time for the November elections.

That left approximately 56,000 ex-felons legally stranded who couldn’t meet that temporary restriction, until the recent 2-1 three-judge Superior Court panel rule in their favor.

Political observers say Republican legislative leaders want the 50 year-old law enforced in order to keep the 56,000 forms felons off the voting rolls for the November 2022 elections.


Monday, April 4, 2022


                                                                BISHOP BARBER





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Now, just over two years since the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the United States, over 900,000 Americans have died as a result.

Per a March 26th report in Fortune Magazine, “During the peak of Omicron (BA.1) in the U.S., December through January, Black adults were hospitalized at a rate nearly four times higher than white adults, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by U.S. Centers for Disease Control.”

A new report sponsored by  Bishop William Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and researched by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), states that many of those deaths were the result of “preexisting social and economic disparities that have long festered in the U.S.” that were exacerbated by the pandemic.

The findings of this report reveal neglect, and sometimes intentional decisions, to not focus on the poor,” says Bishop Barber, co-convener of the Poor People’s Campaign. “It is further evidence why we have called for the President to meet, at the White House, with a diverse delegation of poor and low-wealth people, religious leaders and economists to put addressing poverty and low wealth front and center.” 

Titled “A Poor People’s Pandemic:Mapping the Intersections of Poverty, Race and COVID-19,” the report notes that: 

- During the pandemic, people living in poorer counties died at nearly two times the rate of people who lived in richer counties.

- During the deadliest phases of the pandemic, poorer counties saw many times more deaths than wealthier counties.

- Vaccination status cannot explain all the variation in death rates across income groups.

- Characteristics of counties with the highest death rates include poverty rates of 45%; median incomes on average $23,000 less than counties with lower death rates; population across these counties is 56% white, 21% Hispanic, 16% Black; 4% indigenous and 1 % Asian, accounting for approximately 2%of the U.S. population, or 7.5 million people.

- Characteristics of the poorest counties - there are approximately 31 million people in these counties; more than half the population lives under 200% of the poverty line and people of color are overrepresented; compared to higher income counties, there are more than twice as many Black people in these counties. Nearly 1/4 of the population  in these counties is Hispanic, and over half of the population is white; uninsured rates are twice as high as the highest median income counties; more than half of people living in the poorest counties have received their second COVID-19 vaccination shots.

One of the examples in the Poor People’s report of one of the country’s poorest counties is Wayne County, NC, where Bishop Barber lives and pastors a church Goldsboro.

According to the report,  “…Wayne County is a rural county in Eastern North Carolina. Approximately 42% of its residents live under 200% of the poverty line, nearly half of the county is rent-burdened, and its uninsured rate (12.6%) is more than two and a half times the uninsured rate in the wealthiest counties of the country. Its residents are 53% white, 30% Black and 11.8% Hispanic or Latino. During the pandemic, it had a death rate of 302 out of 100,000.”

“Poverty was not tangential to the pandemic, but deeply embedded in its geography,” the Poor People’s pandemic report states. “Yet, failing to consider how poverty intersected with race, gender, ability, insured status and occupation during the pandemic created blind spots in our policy and decision-making, which wrought unnecessary suffering to millions of people.”

“Consequently…,” the report adds, “… the structural drivers of the pandemic and its economic impacts persist.”

This report shows that a poverty-producing and sustaining system was also a death-dealing system,” Bishop Barber adds. “Within this analysis, we can see that it did not need to be this way, if only we were honest about poverty and systemic racism, and the systems of violence that allowed this tragedy.”

Bishop Barber reminded all about the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival  Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls—June 18, 2022.  

Go to for more information.





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Republican lawmakers have wasted no time in seeking an emergency stay pending appeal from the NC Appellate Court of a ruling by a three-judge Superior Court panel last week striking down a 1973 law giving approximately 56,000 felons across the state the right to vote.

The case, formally known as Community Success Initiative v Moore, was a lawsuit filed in 2019, arguing that North Carolina ’s felony disenfranchisement laws were unconstitutional because they were originally instituted to keep Black people from voting.

The judicial  panel voted 2-1 that the 50-year-old law, which made former felons who completed their sentences ineligible to vote, was racist because it made them pay the state fees before they could regain their voting rights.

Plaintiffs in the case won in 2021, only to have the NC Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court temporarily restrict the ruling to ex-felons who registered to vote between August 23rd through Sept. 3, 2021 in time for the November elections.

That left approximately 56,000 ex-felons legally stranded who couldn’t meet that temporary restriction.

So the panel’s 2-1 decision last week was the restriction lift many had been waiting for since last year.

“This is a huge victory for voting rights in North Carolina among the more progressive states in the country in recognizing that felony convictions do not deprive a person of this fundamental right to vote,” said Prof. Irving Joyner of North Carolina Central Universities’ School of Law.

Joyner predicted that the 2-1 Superior Court ruling last week would be appealed.

“[But] it represents a huge starting point in securing the Equal Protection of all people, especially African-Americans who were disproportionately restricted by this outlandish law.”

Republican legislative leaders think otherwise.

Concerned that adding over 50,000 ex-felons to the voting rolls statewide might swing various elections to Democrats, Republicans blasted the Superior Court ruling as the court “legislating from the bench.”

“Piece-by-piece the courts are chipping away at the legislature’a constitutional duty to set election policy in this state and seizing that authority for themselves,” opined state Sen. Warren Daniels (R-Burke) in a press release.

Sen. Daniels further complained that the current ruling was designed to come right before the upcoming May 17 primaries, which would give 56,000 former felons until April 22 to properly register to vote if allowed to.

In an immediate reaction to the Superior Court ruling, the State Board of Elections voted last week to hold off registering any more former felons  still on probation or parole until it receives clarification from the either the state Appellate or Supreme Court on how to proceed.

As of press time, that clarification had not come down.