Friday, May 26, 2023




                                                                 STATE SEN. DAN BLUE




By Cash Michaels

An analysis

The 2024 Republican primary for North Carolina governor is set now, as former 6th District Congressman Mark Walker recently announced his bid, joining state Treasurer Dale Folwell and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.

By all accounts, Robinson, the fiery Black Republican known for his divisive oratory and derisive commentary, is leading in the polls to win the GOP primary next Spring, and ultimately, the general election in November 2024, to become North Carolina’s first African American elected governor in its history.

Right now, there does not seem to be anything, nor anyone, to stand in the way of that probability. Republicans are trying to remove as many rhetorical obstacles as possible, demoting two GOP House members from leadership last week for racist comments they publicly made about Black Democratic colleagues. Now the party can maintain that it doesn’t tolerate racism when its leading candidate for governor is Black.

The Democrats’ sole announced candidate for governor in 2024, current state Attorney General Josh Stein, announced his candidacy last January in an effort to clear the decks of any possible competition going forward.

But let’s be honest - can Josh Stein really defeat Mark Robinson?

That question opens up several political realities.

If Stein has any chance of defeating Robinson, he will need a strong Black voter turnout statewide. While Robinson will get some Black voter support just on the basis of his historic candidacy, Stein is most likely not going to get enough needed to withstand a strong White/Black rural Republican turnout for Robinson.

If tea leaves are strong indicators of future election results, they’re saying that Josh Stein is simply not strong enough in the Black community  to generate the high level of counter-excitement needed to defeat Black Republican Mark Robinson.

So what Democrat besides Josh Stein  is capable of beating perhaps the most popular, if not infamous, Republican in the state today?

If you think about it, Mark Robinson has done us all a favor.

By declaring his candidacy for governor, Robinson has set the stage for a Black Democrat, and ONLY a Black Democrat, to successfully oppose him. And not just any Black Democrat, but one who is everything that Mark Robinson isn’t. 


A Black Democrat who has a solid record of legislative or judicial advocacy on the issues most important to North Carolina families. A Black Democrat who has served in elective office and has a long record of getting things done. A Black Democrat who knows how to constructively talk to people about building their communities.

A Black Democrat whose very personal history speaks to the values that North Carolina families hold dear. 

The bench of qualified Black Democrats for governor, compared to Robinson, could be long, and deep, and include: 

Sen. Dan Blue (Wake)

Sen. Gladys Robinson (Guilford)

Assoc. Justice Mike Morgan

Rep. Rosa Gill (Wake)

Rep. Garland Pierce (Hoke, Scotland)

Rep. Robert T. Reives II (Chatham, Randolph)

Look into the histories of any one of these distinguished public servants. Collectively, they represent all areas of North Carolina, and could gain strong support from all areas. These Black Democrats are leaders. They’ve earned the right to lead. They know how to respect all of the people of North Carolina.

Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue was the first and only African American speaker of the NC House.

Rep. Rosa Gill was the chair of the Wake County Board of Education.

Associate Justice Michael Morgan, who recently announced he will not be running for reelection in 2024, told the Associated Press he’s still considering his future options.

Rep. Robert Reives is displaying strong leadership as the state House Democratic leader in the NC General Assembly. 

Sen. Gladys Robinson is a longtime advocate for health and education issues in the state Senate.

Rep. Garland Pierce is a former chair of the NC Black Legislative Caucus, and is well-versed in addressing issues affecting rural communities.

For the record, none of these distinguished Black Democrats have announced any plans or intention to run for NC governor in 2024, and for all intent and purposes, have no idea their names are being raised as possible go-to candidates should Democrats agree with the premise of this analysis.

But the point can’t be made any louder than it is here - it is going to take a solid Black Democratic candidate to go toe-to-toe with Black Republican Mark Robinson.

Now is anyone saying that Josh Stein should step aside for any one of these Black Democrats to claim the mantle of NC Democratic Party standard-bearer in 2024? Certainly not. Stein has every right to put forth his candidacy in a Democratic primary next year, and may the best Democrat win..

But he would have to prove to the party, and more importantly to the base of the Democratic Party - Black voters - that he could excite that base, and beat Republican Mark Robinson to become the next governor of North Carolina. From what we’ve seen, brandishing his legal credentials will not get Stein past first base with most Black voters - urban or rural.

At least one of the six Black Democrats named above can meet the challenge if any one of them stepped forward to enter the 2024 Democratic primary.

If that happened, the excitement could grip the African American community, compelling a much needed voter turnout for 2024 that could impact other races on the ballot, and blunt the power of Republican Mark Robinson on the ballot.

So who should it be, and when will he or she step forward?

Time will tell.


N.C. Black radio station boycott of Tina Turner music 38 
years ago was headline news statewide





By Cash Michaels

contributing writer

Editor’s note - the reporter of this story was once the program director and a disc jockey for 570WLLE -AM in Raleigh during the 1980s, and was a first-hand participant in this story. This is his personal account.

Several weeks ago, at the age of 83, the world lost one of the most iconic Black music legends ever known - multiple Grammy Award winner Tina Turner, the "Queen of Rock ’n Roll."

Her catalogue of music from both her Ike and Tina Turner Revue days, with raw Black  soul classics like  “Proud Mary” and “Nutbush City Limits,”and later, during her triumphant comeback solo career, with deep, pop anthems like “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and “Simply the Best,” are lasting monuments to an extraordinary artist who helped to define both Black and rock music for generations.

So as a former Black radio disc jockey and program director from the 1980’s, when I learned of Ms. Turner’s passing last week, I was among those saddened that the entertainment world had lost another undeniable icon.

But then it dawned on me - Tina Turner and North Carolina had a connection few people today would recall, and it was an important chapter in Black radio history here that only I can tell now, one of the few left to remember it.

Back in November 1985, I helped to lead a statewide boycott by Black radio stations  that refused to play Tina Turner records on the air, because the promoter of her Greensboro Coliseum concert refused to purchase any advertising time on Black radio stations in North Carolina.

As I recall,  Ms. Turner was on a nationwide 140-city tour to promote her monster hit album Private Dancer, from which “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and other chart-topping hits came from.

The issue for us in Black radio was very simple. After Tina left her abusive husband Ike in the late 1970s, and struck out on her own, her career went nowhere for several years. She was finished. No one wanted to hear her music.

But in 1984, Tina suddenly remade herself with the Private Dancer album, and Black radio across the nation welcomed her back with opened arms when no one else would. It was arguably because of strong Black radio play, and resulting sales, that Tina got her second chance at fame.

Folks of my generation will recall the record business was much, much different in the early 1980s than it is now. MTV - a 24-hour cable television channel born in 1981 that virtually everybody watched because they wanted to see the latest music videos from their favorite artists, was a big, big player. But when MTV first began, many will recall it played just a few Black artists, and  only in the middle of the night, because, "We have to play the music that we think an entire country is going to like. And certainly we are a rock 'n' roll station," an MTV VJ once told popular White artist David Bowie. 

      Bowie, who employed Black music producers for his albums, had publicly complained in an interview. Motown punk funk artist Rick James went a step further and actually sued.

     But MTV prided itself for being a powerful music video outlet that specialized in showcasing the major White American and European pop and rock musical acts of the day.

The breaking point came when Epic Records, owned by parent company CBS, released Michael Jackson’s history-making Thriller album with its first monster single Billie Jean. Unbelievably, MTV refused to play it because they considered Billie Jean to be too Black. CBS told MTV Networks, MTV’s owner, that it would pull all of their popular White music videos  by Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney and others from the channel if it didn’t play Thriller.

The rest is history.

MTV capitulated, videos from Thriller were placed in heavy rotation on air, and soon it wasn’t long before MTV saw the wisdom of programming other great Black artists on the popular channel regularly.

One of them was Tina Turner.

This was important because of the way radio worked during those days. Only a few Black music artists like Stevie Wonder during the 1970s and 80s could “crossover” from traditional Black radio to White dominated Top 40 hits FM and rock radio. If you were a Black artist like Stevie on Top 40s radio, that meant you had a strong following in the White community. That was important not only to the Top 40s FM radio stations, but to concert promoters and record companies as well, who profited from the racial divide they created.

Back then, the key for successful Black crossover artists like Stevie, Michael, Prince and yes, Tina Turner, was Top 40s FM and MTV airplay. Black radio was only important for breaking new Black artists, because as far as record companies were concerned, it was easy to get their artists played on Black AM stations in small, medium and large markets across the country. And small stations like mine, 570WLLE-AM, a 500-watter in Raleigh, were only too happy to break new Black music for our audiences because that's what they expected.

So the record companies and concert promoters felt they could treat us anyway they wanted.

But record companies were also doing something else then to fatten their wallets.

They would produce top tier Black artists like Michael, Prince and Tina doing songs for rock formats, in addition Black R&B and Top 40’s pop. Michael Jackson’s monster rock hit Beat It qualifies as a prime example of such a song that could be played in multiple radio station formats.

Tina Turner’s Private Dancer album also had a song or two that allowed her music to be played in multiple radio formats.

Multiple formats means more audience, more record single and album buyers, and ultimately more concertgoers for the promoters.

And that’s where Tina Turner’s concert promoters ran into trouble here in North Carolina. They wanted Black radio stations like 570WLLE-AM - the one I was program director and a disc jockey at - to play Tina Turner’s music, but  promoters did not want to spend the money to advertise on our radio stations the fact that she would be coming to the Greensboro Coliseum to perform.

        Promoters felt they should get our Black listeners for free.

Back in the day, when a major Black act like Earth, Wind and Fire or Kool and the Gang came to North Carolina, it was usually through a Black promoter, and they traditionally played at the Greensboro Coliseum. Black radio stations all over the state would not only get the advertising buy, but local Black station WQMG-FM in Greensboro would also host the concert.

But that wasn’t happening with Tina’s show. 

When I realized this, I got on the horn with my colleague, the late Alvin Stowe - program director at WDUR-FM in Durham, and some of our other colleagues in cities and markets across the state. They programmed small AM and FM Black radio stations too, and they were also upset that they were being deliberately overlooked by the promoters.

Black radio was where Tina had made her triumphant comeback before being played on Top 40s, rock and MTV, we said. Why were we being left out of the advertising buys?

We sent out a press release to the Associated Press and local news outlets, and soon, the whole state was talking about our boycott. I remember watching WRAL-TV news in Raleigh and seeing popular newsanchor Charlie Gaddy talking about our story on air. We weren’t mad at Tina, but we were upset with her promoters and handlers on how they were treating us.

        Thankfully, the public, Black and White, agreed.

According to a Nov. 21, 1985 article titled “Tina Turmoil Precedes Concert,”published in the Winston-Salem Chronicle, the Black radio stations that boycotted Tina Turner’s records were WLLE-AM in Raleigh; WDUR-AM in Durham; WAAA-AM and WAIR-AM in Winston-Salem;  WEAL-AM, WQMG-FM and  WNAA-FM in Greensboro.

In that article, WAAA-AM station owner Mutter Evans said, “ This was our way of calling attention to the fact.”

And so what was the promoter’s response to our Tina boycott?

In that same article, Southern Promotions President Peter Conlon initially responded that he chose “…to advertise with stations where Turner’s music was popular.” But Conlon then added that “85 to 90 percent of the people who have been attending Turner’s concerts thus far on her 140-city tour have been white.”

Apparently promoters were getting the concertgoers they wanted, based on what stations they were spending advertising dollars with.

Soon, with media and public pressure building, Southern Promotions changed its tune to say that Tina’s Greensboro concert was sold out, so they couldn’t advertise with us even if they wanted to.

        That just made us angrier.

Finally, the controversy got so embarrassing for them, space was made at the Greensboro Coliseum for 100 extra seats for Tina's concert, and advertising was bought on Black radio stations to sell those seats.

The Black stations began playing Tina’s Private Dancer album again, and Black program directors in North Carolina felt good that while all we got were peanuts in the end in terms of advertising dollars, we took an historic stand for ourselves, and our audiences.

        I don't know if what we did has ever happened again.

Now, 38 years later, we join millions of others across the world to commemorate Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famer Tina Turner and her artistry. We have no idea whether she ever knew about our controversy, but make no mistake, we loved her then, and continue to love her now.

May Ms. Anna Mae Bullock - aka Tina Turner, rest in peace.

Editor’s note - Ms. Celeste Hinnant of Garner helped in the research of this story.



Monday, May 22, 2023



                                                       REP. ABRAHAM PENN JONES



By Cash Michaels

An analysis

Last week, the North Carolina political press was all abuzz over a revealing incident where during a state House floor debate over public funding for private school vouchers, Republican Rep. Jeff McNeely of Iredell County - the House deputy majority whip - interrupted Democrat Rep. Abraham Penn Jones of Wake County to ask if he were not “a minority” and an athlete, would he have been able to attend prestigious Harvard University, and then Harvard Law School.

Rep. Jones, who is Black, in his 60’s, and an alum of Raleigh’s Enloe High School, is an accomplished attorney, veteran of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the NC Attorney General’s Office, a Wake County Commissioner, a former NC Administrative Law judge and a Wake superior court judge for 17 years before being elected to the state House, suddenly and unexpectedly had to defend his stellar record of attending Harvard.

Rep. McNeeley, who is white, later apologized, after embarrassing himself, and the rest of his Republican colleagues.

“I worked hard to get where I am today,” Rep. Jones, who finished in the top 40% of his class at Harvard, said in a press release. “It is disappointing that another member of our chamber would imply that I have been successful simply because of the color of my skin, or because I am an athlete. I appreciate the member apologizing for these remarks.”

Rep. Jones wasn’t the only Black Democrat to feel the sting of white Republican scrutiny and bias last week.

During floor debate regarding the Republican 12-week abortion ban veto override, Cabarrus Democrat Rep. Diamond Stanton-Williams , a Black female, registered nurse and medical manager,  was on the House floor, solemnly revealing how years ago, she had an abortion despite having been reared in the Christian church.

But according to WRAL television, Rep. Keith Kidwell, a white Republican from Beaufort County, was not moved by Stanton-Williams’ heartfelt story. He was heard joking with nearby staffers in the rear of the House chamber that she must have attended “the church of Satan.”

Stanton-Williams later replied, “talking about deeply personal decisions regarding policies that will affect millions of women in our state should not open the door for untrue and hurtful remarks. I take my religion beliefs seriously, and it is unfortunate for someone to question my faith - especially another member of this chamber - when it doesn’t align with his.”

Readers may recall that Rep. Kidwell is the Republican lawmaker we reported tried to sneak a conservative anti-black social studies curriculum that criticize the civil rights movement into a local bill for Beaufort County Public Schools before being forced to withdraw it.

The editorials across the state about these two revealing Republican attitudes were merciless.

“[What Rep. McNeeley] ‘ said was perfectly emblematic of a GOP mindset that is dragging the Tar Heel state back to the 1950s,” blasted opinion writer Issac Bailey for McClatchy Newspapers.

It was a moment of unintended candor that provided clear insight into what too many of those who occupy seats in the North Carolina General Assembly believe but rarely state so directly,” stated the Capital Broadcasting Company editorial.

“As they amass even more power and influence, Republicans are feeling emboldened enough to say the quiet parts out loud, wrote The News and Observer editorial. “…[T]oo many Republicans are emboldened to just say what they think, because that’s been modeled for them by other officials and cheered by voters. After all, in North Carolina, this is the party whose lieutenant governor  says reprehensible things about women, the LGBTQ+ community and others…

That official, Black Republican Mark Robinson, the leading GOP candidate for governor, has no doubt gained more white conservative followers after it was recently revealed by CNN that he criticized the 1960s civil rights movement on a March 2018 podcast.

Prior to his political career, Robinson frequently referred to the civil rights’ era as the “so-called civil rights movement” and criticized the Greensboro lunch counter protests as a “ridiculous premise” designed to pull “the rug out from underneath capitalism and free choice and the free market,” reported CNN.

Also last week, came word that one of two Black Democrats on the NC Supreme Court, Associate Justice Michael Morgan, had had enough, and had decided not to run for reelection in 2024.

Justice Morgan has grown frustrated with the direction of the state’s High Court by the Republican majority, which has taken the extraordinary and rare measure of reversing prior rulings against voter ID and redistricting.

Apparently, in their view, the law is whatever they say it is,” Morgan opined in a blistering dissenting opinion.

Instead of doing the legally correct thing, the majority opinion picks its preferred destination and reshapes the law to get there.”

None of these incidents are accidents, but rather the most recent examples of the disdain and hostility Republicans in North Carolina, and  across the country, demonstrably have for African Americans who are not followers of their cult of political personality. Indeed, the GOP has declared war on being “woke,”or being aware of historic injustices to Blacks and other people of color.

Just a brief check of the headlines from across the country shows that for whatever the reason, Republicans just can’t seem to stay away from anti-Black sentiments.

       The NAACP issued a travel advisory for African Americans to stay away from Florida due to gov. Ron DeSantis' apparent hostility towards them.

In Congress, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) made jaws drop when  asked during a radio interview if white nationalists should be allowed to join the military.

“I call them Americans,” he replied.

Fiery Republican Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene blew up headlines when she told reporters that being called a white supremacist was the same as “a Black person being called the n-word.”

Ironically, on May 13th during his commencement address at HBCU Howard University, President Joe Biden made clear what America’s greatest terror threat is - white supremacy.

“I don’t have to tell you that progress towards justice often meets ferocious pushback from the oldest and most sinister of forces,” Biden told the Howard graduating class.. “That’s because hate never goes away.”

Historians are quick to note that up until the 1960s, the Republican Party was the political home of African Americans, having been formed to oppose slavery, while the Democratic Party was the domain of Southern “Dixiecrats” and white supremacists. 

But that changed when Democratic Senator John F. Kennedy helped get civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. released from a Georgia jail. King did not endorse Sen. Kennedy for president, but he did spread word of Kennedy’s support. 

What is striking about that historic incident is that despite black voters loyalty to the Republican Party then, neither Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower or Vice President Richard Nixon ever lifted a finger to help Dr. King, or the cause of civil rights. Black voters got the message, and made the switch.

By the late 1960’s, Republican Richard Nixon won the presidency being anti-civil rights, milking the white voter backlash to the movement, and in the 1980’s, Ronald Reagan won the presidency courting white supremacists in the Deep South. and George H.W. Bush used a black criminal named "Willie Horton" to scare White people enough to win the White House . By that time, Black voters embraced the clear message that it was Democrats, not their former party, that was on the side of civil rights.

That model has remained the same since the days of Pres. Kennedy. In light of the continued and inexplicable popularity of Donald Trump, the growing popularity of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and the hard right direction of the Republican Party as a whole, the question now is how much further can the GOP go being hostile to the interests of the African American community.





By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

The headline of the May 16th Washington Post story was startling.

Black communities endured wave of excess deaths in past 2 decades, studies find - The loss of life came at a staggering cost, medically and economically.

The powerful national story, written by reporter Akilah Johnson, documented how America’s African American communities “…experienced an excess 1.6 million deaths compared with the White population during the past two decades, a staggering loss that comes at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, according to two new studies that build on a generation of research into health disparities and inequity.”

The story goes on to quote researchers at Yale University who calculated the tremendous loss of Black life over the past twenty years in terms of lost achievement and hundreds of billions in economic potential.

The reasons for the excess deaths and resulting economic toll are many, including mass incarceration, but the root is the same, according to the reports published Tuesday in the influential medical journal JAMA, the unequal nature of how American society is structured,” the May 16th WP report stated.

Here in North Carolina, the evidence is clear that African Americans are suffering from the same maladies that their counterparts in other parts of the country are suffering from, and are meeting the same results.

It’s not just sickness and disease like diabetes, cancer or heart problems that are responsible for a Black shorter life expectancy in North Carolina, but socioeconomic pressures like poor access to health care, poor treatment for mental illness, a lack of employment opportunities, and other factors.

Still, according to the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, that lack of vital health care access and services only compounds the negative impact of socioeconomic pressures.

According to the 2020 North Carolina Resident Population Health Data by Race and Ethnicity, Black mortality rates per particular diseases are considerably higher than Whites in certain categories.

In 2020, the most recent year that figures are available, North Carolina’s total population was 10,600,823, of which 6, 711,126 (or 63.3%) were White non-Hispanic, and 2,344,295, or 22.1%, were Black non-Hispanic.

For the sake of this story, other North Carolina population groups like Hispanic/Latino, Native American or others are not included in the total comparisons.

During the period of 2016 to 2020, the total mortality rate in North Carolina from all causes was 793.7 per 100,000 people, of which Whites comprised 785.00, while Blacks were 919.8, for a disparity ratio of 1.2.

As you go down the list of various diseases that plague North Carolina and make racial grouping comparisons, it is hard not to see that African Americans are suffering disproportionate to their number.

Heart disease - total mortality rate 156.1 per 100,00-; Whites 153.7; Blacks 181.0 for a disparity ratio of 1.2.

Cancer - total mortality rate 154.8 per 100,000; Whites 153.7; Blacks 176.1 for a 1.1 disparity ratio.

(Prostate Cancer) - total mortality rate 19.5; Whites 16.6; Blacks 38.5, for a disparity ratio of 2.3.

(Breast Cancer) -  total mortality rate 20.1; White 18.9; Black 26.3, for  disparity ratio  of 1.4.

Diabetes - total mortality rate is 24.5; White 20.3; Black 45.0, for a disparity ratio of 2.2

The next two categories of North Carolina mortality rates and disparities for the period of 2016 to 2020 are particularly interesting between Whites and Blacks.

Suicide - total mortality rate is 13.4 per 1,000. But the White mortality rate per 1,000 people is 17.1, while the Black rate is only 5.9, for a ratio of just 0.3. it is one of the few times that the White mortality rate exceeds the Black one.

However, when it comes to homicide, there is a dramatic change.

Homicide - 7.3 total mortality rate; White 3.2; Black 19.8, with a disparity ration of 6.1.

Per Social Determinants of Health, no matter what the category (high school graduation rte, unemployed, poverty rate, poverty rate children, households on food stamps, uninsured, and disability), Blacks are always at a higher rate of mortality than their White counterparts, or the state’s total.

The Washington Post story concluded that during the coronavirus pandemic, the gap between Black and white death rates began to shrink, and actually flip.

“And why was that happening?” asked Reed Tuckson, co-founder of the Black Coalition Against Covid in the WP story. There are two reasons, he said. “One, of course, was the destructive messaging that came from many White political leaders but also the impact of the mobilization of Black faith and community-based organizations and social and fraternal organizations.”’

Tuckson, a former Washington D.C. public health commissioner, continued that nationally, “the herculean efforts” of the Black community “to fight for our lives” despite having meager resources to fight with shows that it is past time for the federal government “to find a way to create sustainable, predicable funding at scale to support the Black community and its institutions.”



Monday, May 15, 2023


REP. Alma Adams

                                                             REP. KANDIE SMITH



By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

Last Saturday, while most North Carolinians were enjoying a muggy, cloudy Saturday before Mother’s Day, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper was  making national news, defiantly vetoing the 12-week abortion restriction bill passed by the Republican-led NC General Assembly just days before.

“This bill will create dangerous interference with the doctor-patient relationship, leading to harm for pregnant women and their families,” Cooper said to hundreds of demonstrators. “With its medically unnecessary obstacles and restrictions, it will make abortion unavailable to many women, particularly those with lower incomes, those who live in rural areas, and those who already have limited access to health care.”

At deadline Monday, the GOP majority in both the state House and Senate had not voted to override the governor’s veto yet, but were expected to now that they have the requisite numbers to do so.

        At least one House Republican lawmaker said before Gov. Cooper’s veto that he “would not be bullied” by the governor to not vote to override to his veto.

In the midst of this hyper-sensitive political tug-of war over women’s right to choose in North Carolina, where do African American women stand?

“We were not invited to the table,” opined state Sen. Kandie Smith (D-Greenville) during floor debate last week. “We were not considered when it comes to what do you think would be good. To me, it’s like my voice doesn’t matter.”

Sen. Smith continued, “Black women have been fighting for freedom of their body since slavery. We’re placed back in the situation where someone is trying to tell us what to do with our bodies. We’ve been fighting against that long enough. That is not okay.”

For Black women, the subject of maternal health is one of survival, researchers say, so much so that they are three times as likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Regarding abortion, many Black women of childbearing age are not as free as their white counterparts to decide whether to carry a child to term or not because of socioeconomic and health justice issues, abortion rights activists say. Not making a living wage, not having health insurance, not having access to safe contraception, not having access to adequate non-racist health care were just some of the factors involved in determining whether a low-income female of color decided whether or not to give birth.

Whatever Black women decided, the odds were still against her.

In 2019, Black women had the highest rate of abortions nationally at 23.8 per 1,000 women, according to the CDC.

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v.Wade in June 2022,  many of those activists warned that Black and other women of color would be disproportionately affected by the ruling overturning a woman’s right to choose in states that did not already specify that right.

And in North Carolina, Black women still account for the state’s high maternal death rate.

Given that staggering reality, African American women like Sen. Smith, state Senator Natalie Murdock (D-Durham), and even NC Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12), spoke out when it was clear that Republicans in the NC General Assembly were going to impose strict abortion restrictions.

“Even without the reality of the maternal health crisis, the Republican abortion ban is wrong,” Rep. Adams said in a statement when the Republican abortion restriction was first introduced. 

“It devalues the hard work of pregnancy, which should always be voluntary. It dehumanizes women by taking away their bodily autonomy.

Involuntary servitude is expressly prohibited by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution; legislation that forces the work of pregnancy, regardless

of injury or death, should always be unconstitutional, and this bill should fail.” 

And even clergy, like Bishop William Barber of Repairers of the Breach, called Republican legislators “extremists” for imposing  a law that restricts abortion rights, at the same time they lift all restricts for obtaining and owning a firearm.

“It is absolute hypocrisy to say you care about life and then you write a law that puts poor and low-income women’s lives in jeopardy,” Barber recently said.

If a Gallup poll from Sept. 2020 is any indication, Black lawmakers like Rep. Adams, or leaders like Bishop Barber are not alone in claiming African American females have the right to choose as well.

From 2017-2020, 46% of African American polled agreed that abortion was “morally acceptable.” That is a significant jump from the 31% polled from 2001 to 2007.

Given all of the available data, African American females have a rightful place in the abortion nights debate, because the decision on whether or not o have a child could mean their very lives.

`` -30-



By Cash Michaels

An analysis

Think the debt ceiling crisis is not important to you, especially if you’re Black?

Think again.

The debate between Republicans in Congress, and the White House, over raising the debt limit as soon as possible before a national financial catastrophe occurs is very much an African American issue, especially if you’re a retiree who gets a check from Social Security every month, or a federal paycheck, or someone who gets Medicare or Medicaid health insurance.

So what is the debt ceiling, and why is it so important to us?

To put it plainly, the United States government could literally run out of money to pay its bills by June 1st according to the U.S Treasury Dept. and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, causing the nation to default on its debts (money owed).

Congress created the debt ceiling in 1917 to allow the U.S. Treasury Dept. to pay off federal bills and loans without always going back to Congress for the  money. But sometimes the government spends more than allotted , thus the need to raise the debt ceiling (or credit available).

Defaulting on the debt ceiling has never occurred before (though we came close in 2011), and all that needs to happen to avert it is for Congress to vote to raise the debt ceiling, which is currently $31.4 trillion.

But that’s not happening now because Republicans who hold a slim majority in the U.S. House want some policy concessions from President Biden before they vote to raise the debt ceiling. The GOP wants cuts to social welfare programs, and has passed legislation detailing such.

Many of those programs are important to the African American community.

A 2017 study shows that 35 percent elderly married African American couples, and 58 percent of unmarried elderly African Americans depended on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their monthly income. If the current debt ceiling crisis is not resolved, all of the above is in danger.

You’re not on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, you say, so why should you still be concerned? Because the negative impact of the federal government failing to raise the national debt ceiling would be so great, private markets, not just here, but around the world would be negatively affected.

Moody’s Analytics projects that at least one million Americans could lose their jobs. Businesses would have to lay off workers in order to survive what would be a severe recession, and usually when that happens, African Americans are the first to go. Black employees of the federal government would find themselves among the first to be laid off since important agencies would be shutdown across the country.

No doubt  many state, county and local governments would be affected as well, limiting the flow of tax revenue available.

In short, while the specter of a national debt ceiling crisis would hurt the average American citizen because of its wide-ranging impact on the 

national and local economy, the high percent of African Americans dependent on the social safety net provided by the federal government, would have a devastating impact on the people who could afford it the least.

Per the latest published reports, Republicans in the House say they are willing to raise the national debt ceiling only until May 2024, effectively forestalling the next financial crisis until the middle of the next presidential campaign. They also want to limit student loan forgiveness, put new work requirements on welfare programs like SNAP (food stamps), and cancel unspent COVID-19 relief funding.

Pres. Biden has finally begun meeting with Republican Congressional leaders to strike a deal on raising the debt ceiling. The president said that those talks are “moving along,” but insists that he wants a clean deal with no programs cuts.

If the president feels he has to in a pinch, Biden can invoke the 14th Amendment, which allows the U.S. Treasury to ignore the debt ceiling as needed. Congressional Democrats prefer Biden opt  to use it, instead of giving in to the Republicans.

Right now, talks are suspended as Biden is scheduled to leave the country for a meeting in Japan. So whatever money you have on hand now, hold on to it until this political mess is settled.



Monday, May 8, 2023




                                                                 MARK ROBINSON



By Cash Michaels

An analysis

Having announced his candidacy for governor, NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson now stands at the precipice of making history. If elected, he would be the first African American in North Carolina history ever  elected to the state’s highest elected office. It would be natural to expect that black voters across the state would help the outspoken Republican reach that goal.

But, as has been undoubtedly documented by now, Robinson brings a lot of fiery rhetorical baggage with him to the gubernatorial campaign. Past divisive statements in speeches and social media postings have made him such a political pariah to moderate and left-leaning voters, that Robinson’s seeming only chance of winning in 2024 is by corralling all of the white conservative and right-wing voters he can get.

To be clear, the polarizing lieutenant governor has entrenched himself  in a political cage all of his own making, so much so that even though he is presently seen as the leading candidate in the probable three-way Republican 2024 primary (state Treasurer Dale Folwell has announced, and former Congressman Mark Walker is expected to later this month), Robinson may actually have to either limit what he says, or how many appearances he makes saying anything on the campaign trail, to not further hurt himself politically.

That may work during the primary campaign, where extremist GOP voters may decide to choose Robinson for his “take-no-prisoners” cultural warrior persona, even if he only hints at some of his past outrageous remarks about gun violence, LBGTQ or abortion rights. And his Republican opponents - both moderates by comparison - may allow Robinson to calm down in an effort to display a more “reasonable” Republican Party in an effort to attract as many right-leaning unaffiliated voters as possible.

But in the likelihood that Robinson does become the Republican Party standard-bearer in 2024 against a Democratic moderate like state Attorney General Josh Stein, he and his handlers have already begun setting a less combative tone to inflate his support base.

Right after Gov. Cooper’s March 6th State of the State address before the Republican-led NC General Assembly, a tamed Lt. Gov. Robinson delivered a sober, even-tempered response to prospective voters.

Robinson talked economic policies, not gay-bashing; lowering taxes, not abortion or gay rights. Like a well-made cake, the black Republican cogently shared  the potent political ingredients of personal growth through self-sacrifice, hard work, family and education in his well-delivered remarks. Indeed, Robinson revealed that he had recently walked the stage as a graduate of UNC at Greensboro, and presented himself not as a politician, but a “ …public servant who knows what the people of North Carolina are going through and wants to serve them and will fight for them like my own personal journey.”

By positioning candidate Robinson as “reasonable” now, the Republican Party hopes that by the time the GOP primary, and then the general election rolls around in 2024, the black Republican’s imposing-yet-toned -down personality will be reinterpreted as strength, not loud, misguided arrogance, by a majority of North Carolina voters next year.

But will that be enough to attract sizable support from Democrat-supporting African-American voters? Will they turn their backs on likely Democrat standard-bearer Josh Stein, to help make history with a black Republican candidate who politically is opposed to many traditional Democratic issues?

To be fair, Democrat Stein is not known for inspiring much trust or admiration from black voters, even though he has won all of his elections. Stein has a number of public relations challenges he must overcome whether he faces Robinson or not, or else many black urban Democratic voters might decide to stay home in 2024. 

Couple that with the black lt. governor going to rural parts of the state, pushing the kind of traditional values issues both white and black voters out there understand and support.

If that happens, Mark Robinson wins.

Robinson’s past vulgarities towards gays, Jews, abortion, and even blacks, may not be enough to damage his candidacy with the people who truly want to see him elected as the next NC governor - white conservatives.

And those vulgarities may not be enough to outrage black urban voters to vote against Robinson, and for Josh Stein. They could just stay home. They’ve done it before. Black Democrats inexplicably stayed home in November 2022, when they had every reason to support a popular Black Democratic candidate, Cheri Beasley.

Now that the Election 2024 gubernatorial table is almost set, pay attention to how the Republican Party will further mold Mark Robinson into a hard-charging conservative “public servant” fighting for North Carolina values, and Josh Stein as a “liberal” Democratic politician who seeks to reverse the tide of Republican “progress.”

Bottomline is, as always in virtually every election, when it comes to 2024, the black vote is key.

With a Republican-led state Supreme Court, Republican-led state legislature, and a Republican-led NC Appellate Court, the black voter will be the one to decide whether a black conservative Republican governor is elected to determine the future of North Carolina.


                                                ATTY BENJAMIN L. CRUMP




By Cash Michaels

Contributing writer

“Are you all ready to go out and represent?’ noted civil rights Attorney Benjamin L Crump challenged graduates in the opening statement of his stirring keynote address at the 141st Commencement Exercises: the Baccalaureate Spring Ceremony of North Carolina Central University in Durham last Saturday.

Affectionately known as “Black America’s attorney general” for his tireless work successfully representing the families of victims of police injustice, Atty Crump, a native of Lumberton, told the NCCU Class of ’23 that “You all are the power.”

Crump told NCCU graduates that with their college education, You all don’t realize how powerful you are,” he said. “You all don’t realize how powerful you’re going to be. With this great education from North Carolina Central University, you’re going to be able to do amazing things in the world, important things in the world, necessary things in the world. You all are the best and the brightest, the most articulate, the most intelligent, the most resourceful. Y’all are the best that our future has to offer the world, and y’all must remember that every day going forward, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that you are not the best. You are never inferior. You are never insignificant.”

Saying that NCCU graduates were “answers” to the prayers of ancestral slaves who picked cotton in the fields generations ago, Crump said that today’s generation of black students represent the liberation of their ancestors.

“So you all have to live up to that obligation, because there was so much sacrifice.”

Atty Crump noted in his remarks that because African Americans have a long history of overcoming virtually every obstacle to their freedom over the generations, he has confidence that blacks will be able to overcome the obstacles of the present and the future.

  But Crump warned NCCU graduates that the challenges they’ll face in life won’t be easy and won’t be fair. The only way to make things fair will be based on what they bring to the table in life.

“If you don’t bring anything to the table, don’t expect anyone to allow you to sit down at the table,” Crump admonished.

The famed black attorney also noted that education is no good if it’s not shared with others, so he challenged NCCU grads to take what they learned at school, back to their homes and communities in order to help uplift everyone.

And Crump urged graduates to never forget the people who supported them through their college careers, “because when you march across that stage, they’re marching across that stage too.”

He also challenged NCCU graduates to “go upstream” to help save young black children who are being “thrown in the river” of a deadend life of  crime, poor education, and little or no opportunities in life.

“We count on you to go upstream,’ Atty Crump said.

Crump noted efforts on the part of Republican elected officials who are currently outlawing the teaching of Black history to students in the public schools, their reading of African American literature by Alice Walker, James Baldwin and others, or Black culture.

“Because our children have to know that without Black history there would be no American history,” Crump said.

Atty Crump ended his remarks by urging NCCU graduates to stand up for what is right, no matter what the odds, no matter what obstacles or personal sacrifice they may face.

“And we have to fight for our people’s future until Hell freezes over,” Crump closed.

Atty Crump thanked NCCU graduates for being “co-counsels” supporting his legal team in the court of public opinion through demonstrations, petitions or social media when he sought to bring justice in the May 2020 police brutality case of George Floyd, the black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck in the street, causing him to die. 

Crump said that crucial public support was responsible for the conviction of the three police officers involved, as well as victory in the cases of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kty., and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia.

“It was because of you all, that we were able to get justice,” Atty Crump lauded the NCCU graduates.

NCCU awarded nearly 1,000 degrees during its Spring 2023 Commencement.