Monday, December 4, 2023


                                                                      DELVIN FERRELL




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Last week, at predominately black Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School, a 15-year-old student, Delvin Ferrell,  lost his life and a 16-year-old was seriously injured when they were stabbed by a 14 year-old student during a violent confrontation. The 14-year-old has been charged with murder and may be tried as an adult.

According to published reports, the mother of the 14-year-old complained to the school that morning that her son feared being attacked.

The shocking crime illicited reaction from officials as high up as Governor Roy Cooper.

“We cannot accept violence in our schools and we must continue to work to identify threats and ensure the safety of students and teachers so they can focus on teaching and learning,” the governor said.

In the aftermath of the Southeast Raleigh High Magnet School stabbing, a student at a Rocky Mount school was caught bringing a gun to class. And then, another student called in a bomb threat to a Carrboro public school.

A fact many North Carolinians may not be aware of is that reported crime in North Carolina public schools is up 16.9% above pre-pandemic levels, according to the NC Dept. of Public Instruction.

With all that’s going on in the world, it’s easy to forget that young people can be both the victims, and alleged perpetrators of serious violence, all because they share the same spaces. It is not just a problem of major metropolitan areas across North Carolina , but anywhere where young people congregate either by choice or requirement.

In the case of schools, education and political leaders have been trying to come up with reasonable solutions for years, seemingly to no avail.

Last Sunday, in the aftermath of the Southeast Raleigh Magnet School incident, community members, clergy and elected officials came together to seek community-based answers, and pray. 

The N.C. Black Alliance sponsored the gathering outside a local church for the expressed purpose of sharing “actionable solutions and steps to support the youth of Southeast Raleigh.” Among those attending the gathering, two high ranking African-American public officials who say they are fully invested in solutions - Wake County Schools Supt. Robert Taylor and Raleigh Police Chief Estelle Patterson.

"We’re always going to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners and Wake County Schools is one of our partners," said Patterson. "We are committed to provide a safe environment for our students no matter what."

"I can tell you as the superintendent of Wake County Public Schools I am invested every single day in this work," Taylor said. "Every single day for every single child."

But more is going to be needed beyond police resource officers walking the halls, or schools suspending troubled students, critics say. 

Some have shared that for many troubled students, violence is really the only effective language that they know. For many, either the breakfast or lunch that they receive at school daily is the only regular meal that they receive. When it comes to solving interpersonal problems, many only understand the use of violence.

And because many troubled students come from fractured homes, and find themselves on the streets more times than not, they see “family” in the form of unhealthy gang activity. 

In the case of the 14-year murder suspect at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High, his mother told The News & Observer that her older daughter reportedly had an earlier altercation with a female Southeast Raleigh Magnet High student, who then later came to the mother’s home with other juveniles, and allegedly assaulted  both the daughter and mother.

Since it opened in 1997, Southeast Raleigh High has been well known for harboring a number of gangs in its student body. About 15 years ago, community leader Bruce Lightner recommended that retired male teachers and law enforcement walk the halls of Southeast Raleigh High in order to ensure student safety, especially for female students going to use the rest rooms.

The Wake School Board then reportedly rejected his proposal.

And yet, while school official say they are presently looking for new tools to help quell the rising tide of student violence in North Carolina public schools, the question remains why aren’t they making good use of the old tools that they already have?

Training students in peer-to-peer conflict resolution so that they’re able to head off explosive confrontations before they mushroom, as provided by state law. Installing metal detectors so that guns and knives cannot be brought into school buildings without detection. Greater visibility of school resource officers to allow students to feel safer on school property.

Some of these measures may cost more money, but as tragedies like last week's occur more often, the argument can be more successfully made. Just two years ago, U.S. Attorney Michael Easley Jr. announced a $1 million grant to help Robeson County schools stem the tide of rising violence there.

       But that was only for Robeson County schools.

The family of victim Delvin Ferrell has said there is too much violence befalling our young people at school and elsewhere. They are calling for “culturally competent support” - people who truly understand the hard lives and struggles many young people are experiencing so that they can devise effective ways of reaching them, and giving them plausible options beyond violence.

“Try to put people inside the school system who know how to de-escalate situations like this before they become a crisis, " said Ferrell’s uncle, Teddie Martinez. “Healing needs to take place across the board.”


                                               CHRISTINA JOHNSON McPHAIL




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Christine Johnson McPhail, who has served as president of St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh since April 2022, has told local Raleigh media that she has been fired by the university’s board of trustees.

McPhail says she was informed in writing Sunday night of her dismissal, effective immediately, but not given a reason for it. 

However, McPhail also confirmed that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges had also recently voted to take away St. Augustine’s University’s accreditation. Accreditation is vital for colleges and universities to have to certify that they are proficient in managing their business structure. It is also important for for students to receive financial aid from the federal government.

Reportedly, St. Aug has been on probation for the past year, because it could not meet the accrediting agency’s financial resources and management requirements. McPhail says the school has until January 24th to appeal loss of accreditation.

According to a story in the Raleigh News & Observer, McPhail’s attorney, David Tracey of New York, says the president’s firing is retaliation for her filing a discrimination complaint against the university’s trustee board.

McPhail alleged gender discrimination in the complaint, and a “hostile environment” created by “…demeaning comments about her gender from members of the board. McPhail also charged that she was yelled at and berated by board members.

When board members pressured her to take back the complaint or else it would cost McPhail her job, she refused.

It was subsequent to that that McPhail learned that the board of trustees actually voted to fire her on November 14th, but only notified her on Dec. 3rd.

"I feel betrayed because that was not the relationship that I had with the Board," McPhail told WRAL-TV News. "I worked aggressively with the team at Saint Augustine's University. We were rebuilding relationships throughout the community."

McPhail had been contractually hired to serve until February 2025. She was St. Aug’s 13th president. She was appointed to the post after her late husband, St. Aug Pres. Irving Pressly McPhail, died die to complications from COVID-19 in 2021.

On Tuesday, the St. Aug Board of Trustees issued a statement essentially denying McPhail's accusations.

    "The Board denies the unfounded allegations Dr. McPhail has made against the University, and the Board is prepared to defend itself and the institution. The University will have no further comment on these issues given that this is a personnel matter."

    "Instead, the Board is focused on restoring the University's standing with SACSCOC [Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges] under new University leadership."






By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

A three-judge panel last week granted Gov. Roy Cooper his motion for a preliminary injunction against Republican legislative leaders in their attempt to remove the governor’s power to appoint members to the State Board of Elections (SBOE) ahead of the 2024 elections.

Up until now, the governor had the power to choose three members of his political party to serve on the five-member SBOE. That power extended to each county Board of Elections.

Republicans in the state legislature, seeking to diminish the Office of the Governor, voted to remove the governor’s power to appoint to the SBOE, and replace it with an eight-seat even-numbered board of Republicans and Democrats. The goal was, critics say, to create a a built-in stalemate system where issues like early voting sites would go down in failure because there could be no majority agreement.

Gov. Cooper vetoed the GOP Senate Bill 749, only to have his veto overridden. In October, the governor filed suit against the state legislature, claiming that the legislature did not have the constitutional right to take away the power of the governor to appoint to the SBOE.

“We applaud the unanimous decision to block Republicans’ latest assault on our democratic process,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Dan Blue and House Democratic Leader Robert Reives in a statement supporting the governor. “The court’s clear rejection of the GOP’s attempted power grab is a win for voters and our state constitution.”

Days earlier, Republican legislative leaders  asked  the three-judge Superior court panel to dismiss the governor’s lawsuit against them for removing his appointment power to the state Economic Investment Committee, the Commission for Public Health and the Board of transportation. That judicial panel blocked the requested changes to those boards on Nov. 1st.

Cooper called attempts to remove the appointment powers of the governor a “blatantly unconstitutional legislative power grab.”




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

If you’re keeping count, now there are two federal lawsuits alleging that new redistricting voting maps ratified by the Republican-led NC General Assembly racially discriminate against voters of color.

The second one, filed Monday, alleges that new congressional map drawn starting with the 2024 election “…discriminates against minority voters in violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution,” and challenges the new 1st, 6th, 12th and 14th Congressional Districts as “unconstitutional racial gerrymanders,” which are still illegal. 

Partisan gerrymanders are legal under law, and no doubt, the Republican legislative majority will claim that the congressional maps, just like the legislative voting maps, are partisan gerrymanders.

The second suit is being brought by eighteen black and Latino plaintiffs who are represented by Democratic attorney Marc Elias. In their lawsuit, plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to stop the new congressional map from being enacted.

“North Carolina gained a congressional district after the 2020 Census, almost entirely due to an increase in the state’s minority population,” the lawsuit says.. “But instead of granting minority voters the benefit of the state’s increased representation, the General Assembly majority capitalized on that gain to increase their own power and decrease minority voting power.”

“By strategically packing and cracking North Carolina’s minority voters,”the complaint continued, “… the 2023 Congressional Plan entrenches the state’s white majority and erases the gains made by voters of color in the 2020 and 2022 election cycles.” 

At press time, Republican legislative leaders had not made any comment in response to this lawsuit.

The first federal lawsuit alleging that GOP lawmakers  “cracked nd packed black voters in order to draw state Senate legislative voting maps, was filed by African-American plaintiffs on Nov. 21st.

That complaint alleged that that Senate map was drawn in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“… [T]he North Carolina General Assembly adopted a Senate plan that unlawfully deprives Black voters of the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice,” the black plaintiffs in the first federal lawsuit allege.



Saturday, November 25, 2023



                                                      ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ANITA EARLS





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Associate State Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls’ efforts to stop a NC Judicial Standards Commission investigation into her conduct while serving on the NC High Court were dashed, meaning that she must still walk on egg shells when it comes to freely expressing her opinions, especially as the only African-American on the State Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Republican legislative leaders want Earls to recuse herself from an upcoming state Supreme Court hearing on the 29-year-old Leandro educational funding case. In a motion in mid-November, the GOP wanted Earls to step aside because she was originally a plaintiff’s attorney in the case. 

Justice Earls has refused to recuse herself, and state Supreme Court rules allow her to ultimately make the final decision. She can also allow the rest of the court to make the decision for her, which is unlikely.

The state Supreme Court agreed to rehear the Leandro funding case on Oct. 20th. Republican leaders appealed to the GOP -led High Court after a Superior Court Court judge last April ordered the legislature to spend an additional $677 million in education funding  to help public schools in poorer counties be better funded.

No date has been set for the rehearing.

As Justice Earls deals with being targeted for recusal in the Leandro case, she is also recovering from a first round loss in her federal court battle with the NC Judicial Standards Commission (NCJSC).

Earls asked federal Judge William Osteen Jr. for a preliminary injunction against NCJSC to stop it from continuing to investigate her speeches, interviews and opinions while she sues it in federal court. But Judge Osteen refused Justice Earls’ motion, saying that she failed to show a likelihood of winning her case on the merits.

Earls, through her attorney, is appealing his decision.

Justice Earls, in her lawsuit against the NCJSC, alleges that its investigation of a complaint against her and remarks that she reportedly made during a published interview with a legal magazine, effectively threaten her First Amendment rights to free speech.

NCJSC counters that all it is doing is its job to investigate members of the judiciary who may make remarks that cast aspersions on the institution.

Earls’ federal lawsuit is still viable despite her failure to win an injunction to stop the NCJSC.

The only African-American associate justice, as well as one of only two female Democrats on the seven-member state Supreme Court, had been vocal about alleged racial and partisan bias on the part of her Republican colleagues.

It has not been made public as to who filed the compliant against Justice Earls, but it is no secret that she is not well regarded by her Republican colleagues.







By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

During the last week of October, when Republican lawmakers approved their new redistricting voting maps, known as Senate Bill 758, did they try to hide the fact that some of them were in fact racial gerrymanders?

When Democrats pressed them on their maps, Republicans insisted that they used partisan lines, not racial lines, to determine the voting districts.

But at least two African American voters - Rodney Pierce and Moses Matthews - didn’t agree, and filed a federal lawsuit on November 21st, claiming that Republican lawmakers drew a Senate redistricting map that disregarded “…ample evidence of racially polarized voting and a history of discrimination in the “Black Belt counties” of northeastern North Carolina, and an obligation under the Voting Rights Act to analyze that evidence before drawing districts…” 

The federal lawsuit continued, “… the North Carolina General Assembly adopted a Senate plan that unlawfully deprives Black voters of the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.”

“The Black population in North Carolina’s Black Belt counties is sufficiently numerous and geographically compact to form a majority-minority district. Voting in the region is also highly polarized along racial lines—Black voters there are politically cohesive, but white voters vote sufficiently as a bloc to usually defeat minority candidates of choice. Nonetheless, SB 758 “cracks” Black voters in the region across multiple districts, including Senate District 2, which stretches more than 160 miles from the Virginia border to Carteret County on the Atlantic Ocean. When considered against the totality of the circumstances, SB 758’s cracking of Black voters in this region dilutes their voting strength in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

“Accordingly, Plaintiffs seek an order (1) declaring that SB 758 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; (2) enjoining Defendants from conducting future elections under SB 758; (3) ordering a remedial plan that includes a minority opportunity district in the Black Belt counties; and (4) providing any such additional relief as is appropriate,” the federal lawsuit stated.

“Black Belt” counties are northeastern North Carolina counties that are part of the historic Black Belt in the Southeast where slaves and their descendants worked the fields. Those counties in North Carolina are majority Black, but the federal lawsuit alleges that the Senate voting map ignores that fact.

The new GOP redistricting maps were also drawn in secret, which doesn’t help their case with Democrats.

“The plan enacted by the General Assembly in late October splits, cracks, and packs Black voters to dilute their votes and blunt their ability to fully participate in the democratic process,” charged Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue in a statement.

“For example, there are eight counties in North Carolina that are majority Black in population, and they are all in eastern North Carolina (Bertie, Hertford, Edgecombe, Northampton, Halifax, Vance, Warren and Washington). The map enacted by the General Assembly divides these eight counties among four separate districts,” Sen. Blue continued. “This is ‘cracking’ on steroids.”

At a hearing about the Senate maps in late September, citizens gave Republicans an earful.

“In my opinion, it’s immoral and it’s pretty wicked that you’d go to this level to stop people from progressing,” Brunswick County resident Mahlaynee Cooper, co-founder of the social action group Speak Ya Peace, pointedly told GOP lawmakers. “I’m disappointed but not surprised.”

On Oct. 22nd, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice reportedly sent Republican legislative leaders a letter requesting a “full analysis” of the new voting maps, but also added that it saw problems with Senate Districts 1 and 2 in how their African-American populations were broken up.

Senate Redistricting Committee Chairman Sen. Paul Newton responded, however, that  "the redistricting maps are fair and legal and comply with the law.”

In an emergency motion, both plaintiffs Pierce and Matthews, who are also suing the State Board of Elections, asked for a resolution of their request for a preliminary injunction by Dec. 1st, several days before the start of candidate filing.



Sunday, November 19, 2023


 With the Rev. William Barber and other members of the NCNAACP surrounding her for support. Jazmyne Childs tearfully told reporters in Sept. 2019 about allegedly being sexually harassed by Curtis Gatewood. After amor seven years, Ms. Childs settled her $20 million lawsuit against Gatewood, the NAACP, and NAACP Pres./CEO Derrick Johnson.




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

The woman who filed a $20 million sexual harassment lawsuit in February 2020 against Rev. Curtis Gatewood, the national NAACP, and national NAACP Pres, Derrick Johnson, has settled her legal action for a “substantial” undisclosed amount, sources say.

For Jazmyne Childs, 31, the settlement ends almost seven years of trauma since she first accused Gatewood, once her supervisor at the NC NAACP, of sexually harassing her on the job. With the help of then NC NAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber and other state NAACP officials, Ms. Childs' allegations were investigated by the state conference and to the national NAACP office, but nothing was reportedly done to address her concerns for two years.

She eventually sued Gatewood and the national NAACP in Durham Superior Court for $15 million, for several claims of battery, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

Ms. Childs later added $5 million more to her lawsuit, targeting national NAACP Pres. Derrick Johnson for disparaging comments he reportedly made about her at the 2019 NC NAACP Convention in Winston Salem.

Since 2020, the trial has been postponed several times, the last because one of Ms. Childs’ attorneys, Harvey Kennedy of the Winston Salem law firm of Kennedy, Kennedy & Kennedy LLC,  was seriously injured in a car accident. It was thought that the trial might commence in 2024, but last week, Ms. Childs decided that she'd waited long enough for resolution, and directed her attorneys to settle the case.

On Saturday, one of Ms. Childs’ attorneys, Geeta Kapur, issued the following statement of behalf of Jazmyne Childs:

THE SETTLEMENT OF Jazmyne Childs v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Curtis E. Gatewood, and Derrick Johnson  


Statement by: Jazmyne Childs

November 18, 2023

  Recently, my lawyers engaged in settlement discussions with the National NAACP only. After much thought, after seven long years, I have decided to close this awful chapter of my life and move forward toward my future. I accepted the settlement offer from the National NAACP. It is the right legal, moral, and spiritual decision. I am pleased with the settlement. 

         The Settlement Agreement that I reached with National NAACP included promises from both parties that we would not disclose the terms of our agreement.

         On November 17, 2023, I learned that the stalker/predator who was not involved in any settlement discussions nor the agreement itself has circulated an email and a post on Facebook misrepresenting the truth. Whenever parties to a case reach a settlement agreement, the case is dismissed as a part of the legal process.  

In closing, I wish to thank my former co-workers at the NAACP Tyler Swanson and Laurel Ashton for their support and friendship. I am also deeply grateful to the Elder Women Daphne Holmes-Johnson, O’Linda Watkins, Joyce Johnson, Ana Blackburn, and Janice Spearman for their wisdom and support. I also thank my lawyer Geeta Kapur. I am indebted to the Reverend Dr. T. Anthony Spearman. I will always remember the strong community that surrounded me.

           I now ask for privacy as I move forward with God and truth on my side. I am full of hope.

Of note, Ms. Childs states that her attorneys “only” entered into settlement discussions with the NAACP, suggesting that Rev. Gatewood was not part of those discussions.

Gatewood seemingly confirms this when he issued an email statement on November 16  stating , “the  politically timed  [character assassination] complaint and subsequent lawsuit alleging workplace harassment from Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood has been DISMISSED With Prejudice as part of a motion from Childs’ attorney dated 11/13/23.

I, Rev. Curtis E. Gatewood, received a communication from my attorney, Atty Keith Bishop, on today, November 16, 2023, informing me of the news and the closure of this legal matter which was harmfully dragged nearly 4 years.

“Dismissal with Prejudice” means the Plaintiff has failed to make her case; the judgement is final and the Plaintiff (or Prosecutor if applicable) is prohibited from re-filing the case ever again in any court. 

On social media, Gatewood further celebrated misleadingly by stating, “Dismissed with Prejudice” means we (Gatewood and the NAACP/Defendants) WON and the Plaintiff (the person who filed the lawsuit) understands the Judgement against her is FINAL; the Plaintiff’s case has been concluded to be invalid, and she can never attempt to re-file the case in another court.” 

On Sunday, after being sent a copy of Ms. Childs' settlement statement, Gatewood issued a new response:

Well all intelligent, righteous, and civilized humans should know that we do not put something behind us by running from every imaginable form of fair and impartial  protocol; by manipulating legal and civil right judgements and protocol; by avoiding law enforcement’s process for filing complaints and establishing probable cause; by avoiding the process of criminal court to make judgments over “criminal” matters;  by “Dismissing” civil court hearing “with prejudice,” and then coming out claiming you have made a “settlement” that you cannot discuss with all defendants in the same lawsuit.  

Dismissal with Prejudice means your case is complete. With that being the case, I am counting God’s blessings as this should be the last time  I hear from the former Plaintiff in this matter.  Since she is claiming the matter is settled and she did not settle it with me, yet it is settled just the same, then she has no business speaking to directly or indirectly to me, because I was not the one who made any deals - she did.

Legal observers say Gatewood is indeed being misleading. 

Given the amount Ms. Childs was suing for - $20 million - the only defendant in the case who could afford that kind of judgement was the NAACP, thus, the reason why her attorneys began discussions with the civil rights organization “only.”

Sources close to the case add that given the NAACP and Derrick Johnson’s documented behavior towards Ms. Childs. it made sense for them to “substantially” settle with Ms. Childs and her attorneys .

The only reason why Gatewood would even think that he “won” anything is because he doesn’t have to pay anything (he could not afford to), and there will be no public trial with testimony detailing his alleged behavior towards Ms. Childs, sources say.

Nor will there be testimony from another young woman , Courtney Sebring, who also alleges Gatewood sexually harassed her at the Moral Freedom Summer internship in 2014 when she was just 17 and fresh out of high school.

Curtis Gatewood has denied all accusations of sexual harassment.


                                        NC ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH STEIN




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

With just over four months before the March 5th primaries, Democrat state Atty. General Josh Stein and Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson are leading in their respective races to face off in next November’s gubernatorial election.

On the Democratic side, Stein is facing opposition from a determined retired NC Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan, who is working hard seemingly every day to boost his numbers to overtake Stein in time for the primary.

If a recent Meredith College poll holds true, while Morgan trails Stein 11% to 38%, 42% of North Carolina Democrats surveyed say they’re undecided as to who they will vote for in the March primary.

That gives Morgan reason to continue making appearances across the state, shaking hands, giving speeches, and presenting himself as a fresh, experienced alternative to Democratic favorite son, Stein.

For his part, Stein is holding onto his growing campaign war chest for his probable face-off against culture warrior Republican gubernatorial candidate Robinson.

The lt. governor is dramatically leading his field of Republican hopefuls by 41% according to the Meredith College poll. His closest competition is attorney and former prosecutor Bill Graham at 5%, followed  by state Treasurer Dale Folwell at just 3 percent.

Two other GOP challengers have dropped out.

The Meredith poll also reflected some indecision on the part of Republican primary voters, with 42% of them remaining undecided for now.

Observers say once the holiday season has subsided, the respective races should tighten up a bit, though there is presently no indication of either Stein or Robinson losing their leading positions.

Candidate filing for the March 5th primary begins Dec. 5th and ends Dec. 15th.


Sunday, November 12, 2023


                   Bishop Barber closes out Saturday's 1898 symposium in Wilmington (Cash Michaels photo)

Professors Tim Tyson (left) and Irv. Joyner (center) listen to remarks during Saturday's 1898 symposium in Wilmington ( photo by Inez Campbell-Eason)





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

[WILMINGTON] Last week, the port city of Wilmington commemorated the 125th anniversary of the 1898 race massacre that dramatically crippled its African-American population economically, politically and socially for well over a century.

Among the many events presented last week that showcased the violent and racist episode that many historians call “the only successful coup d’tat in American history,” two stood out in importance to the African-American community.

On Friday, November 10th, the actual 125th anniversary of the race massacre, the Southeast region of the National Black Leadership Caucus (NBLC) paid tribute to the late Black publisher/editor Mary Alice Jervay Thatch of The Wilmington Journal, North Carolina’s oldest African-American newspaper.

Ms. Jervay Thatch, an award-winning journalist, died in December 2021.

With many community supporters of The Journal gathered at Wilmington’s Thalian Hall, the tribute program titled, “The Black Press  Rising from the Ashes of 1898” spotlighted Mrs. Jervay Thatch’s 25 years of leading the paper as it advocated for the community’s rights, and also led the campaign to gain pardons of innocence for The Wilmington Ten.

“After the atrocities of the 1898 massacre, we did not have a voice,” Sonya Patrick, regional director of the NBLC told WWAY-TV. “The Black press is our voice. And no one has the right to destroy that, or take that away from us.” 

The next day, Saturday, Nov. 11th, Ms. Patrick, along with fellow members of the Wilmington Journal Breakfast Club, a community service group dedicated to seeing the restoration of Wilmington’s African-American community, presented its second 1898 Symposium titled “Bringing the 1898 Assessment Alive!” at Williston Middle School.

Before the New Hanover Board of Education changed it’s status in 1968, Williston used to be a distinguished and much heralded all-Black senior high school during the early to mid-1900s. Alumni of the old school  still celebrate its legacy with great pride.

The symposium discussion, centered around the question of how Black Wilmington can heal and move forward from the crippling and racist blow of 1898, featured a dynamic mix of social activists, headed by Bishop William Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach; local historian and author Dr. Bertha Todd; author and Duke University historian Prof. Timothy Tyson; Ms. Inez Campbell-Eason, a descendant of an 1898 black family; Rev. Robert Parrish, pastor of Gregory Congregational United Church of Christ; and law Prof. Irving Joyner, who served as vice chairman of the 2006 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission.

For approximately 90 minutes, the symposium panel discussed not only the need for the true history of 1898, which had been hidden for almost a century, to be revealed, but taught in schools.

Dr. Todd talked about the need for community reconciliation so that black Wilmington can rebuild.

Ms Campbell-Eason shared how black wealth was stolen from her Black family and others, and how many had to flee to other states for theirs lives when well-armed white supremacists drove African-Americans from their homes and properties.

Rev. Parrish talked about the vital need in Wilmington’s Black community for restoration to rebuild its economy, bring Black families back to live, and implement the critical repairers needed at both Gregory Church and the Wilmington Journal office on the Seventh Street corridor.

Dr. Tyson related how powerful white supremacists actually took over North Carolina state government first, before taking over the Black-white fusion Wilmington city government by force.

Atty. Joyner warned that the January 6th, 2021 violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol was a modern-day warning that 1898, the time on a national scale, could happen again.

Bishop Barber called for Blacks, whites and other communities of color to come together once again, disregarding race and class, to form a fusion party that can truly influence elections in favor of issues the are important to uplifting the conditions of the poor. 

In addition to the symposium panel. NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green delivered a special poem for the occasion commemorating how African-Americans were murdered during the 1898 race massacre.

And Emily Powell, 16, an 11th grader at Cape Fear Academy, was given her First Place Award for winning the WJBC’s Mary Alice Jervay Thatch Memorial 1898 Student Essay Competition.

Thirty minutes before the symposium program began at Williston, the  middle school was thrown into darkness for the entire afternoon when a stolen car slammed into a nearby utility pole, cutting electricity to the facility.

The program proceeded on schedule, however, with only emergency lights, but no microphones. Fortunately, the Williston auditorium’s acoustics allowed the audience of 350 to hear what was being said from the stage.

Editor’s note - reporter Cash Michaels, a member of the WJBC, was also the master of ceremonies for the 188 symposium, and produced a video on the life of Black publisher/editor Mary Alice Jervay Thatch for the tribute program at Thalian Hall.






By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

[WILMINGTON] Bishop William Barber stood in the pulpit of St. Luke’s A.M.E. Zion Church last Sunday afternoon, and told those who had come out to hear him preach a brutal truth.

“My heart is hurting. My people told me that this program was all set…but there’s hardly anybody here!

That’s right. The legendary leader of the Moral Monday and Forward Together movements. The most prominent president the North Carolina  NAACP has ever had. The leader of Repairers of the Breach, and co-convener of the National Poor People’s campaign.

A man of God who has preached to, by his own estimate, approximately 60 million people over the years.

But on this rainy Sunday afternoon, and at this black church, less than a hundred were there to hear his message, and Bishop Barber was dumbfounded.

“If we can’t organize our own stuff,” Barber said flatly. “I can’t be satisfied with this turnout to commemorate the 125th anniversary of 1898, where people died.”

The pastor of the church and his staff were naturally red-faced. 

Bishop Barber then asked them openly what did they do to ensure that the entire Wilmington community knew he would preaching there for the 125th commemoration of the 1898 massacre.

Apparently not enough, Barber openly deduced, answering his own question.

“You all ain’t mad with me yet, are you?

But that’s when Bishop Barber, now also a professor in the Practice of Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale University Divinity School, in New Haven, Conn. turned what would have normally been an  embarrassing situation, into a prime opportunity to teach, and inspire.

“If you can’t organize right for a program, and get a thousand folk out…we’re never going to organize right for political involvement,” Barber stated.

Before going further, the nationally recognized civil rights leader made clear his open criticisms of the church turnout were not about him or his ego, but rather a warning that failure to plan, organize and vote when low income communities are facing a dangerous future in this country, is effectively giving up before the battle begins.

“Will we just sit here and die?” Bishop Barber rhetorically asked, referencing the biblical parable of the four lepers. He noted that as in 1898, when white supremacists violently attacked Wilmington’s Black community 125 years ago, they killed, and robbed African-Americans of their homes, properties and businesses.  Poor people face the same threat from right-wing forces seeking to take away their rights, he said. 

Barber made clear that all of the violence towards African-Americans in 1898 was not spontaneous, but rather a well planned attack to violently take back economic and political power from them, and establish white supremacy as the law of the land.

”The coup was a result of a group of [white supremacists] conspiring and leading a mob to overthrow the legitimately elected bi-racial local fusionist government in Wilmington. They said if we can do it in Wilmington, the city with the most racial balance, the city here you have African-Americans leading with power, political power working with whites, if we can do it there, we can do it across the state….”, Bishop Barber explained. “What they were trying to stop was black folks and white folks working together. They were winning all over the state, and North Carolina remained a beacon of hope in the South [until 1898]”

Bishop Barber revealed that white supramacist leaders in 1898 organized, and had 12 committees to plan their overthrow. They ultimately were able to organize 2 thousand people to execute their coup.

“The supremacists were organized,” he declared.

“Let me tell you all, the folks who are racist, the folks who are anti-labor union, the folks who are anti-health care, the folks who are anti-voting rights, the folks who are anti-Jewish, the folk who are anti Muslim, and the folk who are anti Black, they are smart enough to be together. If they are cynical to be together, we need to be smart enough to come together.”

“Are we going to act on history,” Barber rhetorically asked, “… or let history act on us?”

The former pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro made clear that in order for low wealth communities to take political power, they have to organize. They have to plan, strategize and vote their interests, because there are political powers today who are certainly organized and not afraid of plotting and planning their takeover, just like in 1898.

“All these states in the South, they are not red states,” Barber noted. “They are unorganized states.”

If the poor people in those states dropped their differences, found common ground and issues, and then voted, they could literally decide who leads this country,” Bishop Barber said. And they would do that by organizing.

“It’s not about what the enemy is going to do”, he added. “It’s about what you’re going to do!” 

Having used the failure of the moment to teach and preach unity, Bishop Barber then concluded.

“When we all get together, what a day of voting, what a day of rejoicing, what a day of power, what a day of change when we all get together. And if we’re going to honor those folk who have died, at least we can get together. At least we can fight together. At least we can stand together. At least …..we can organize together!