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Attorney Gen. Holder: Black Journalists Essential
The Man Behind the King Monument
MLK Monument in Washington, D.C.
 PEYTON FILES FOR DISTRICT 4 - As expected, Venita Peyton, perennial candidate for public office, filed last week to oppose Democratic incumbent Keith Sutton for the Wake School Board District 4 seat he’s held since 2009. Peyton, a Republican, has previously voiced support for the GOP-led Wake School Board and its neighborhood schools policy. She opposes NCNAACP efforts to retain the system’s previous socioeconomic student diversity policy.
 SHAW PRESIDENT RESIGNS - Dr. Irma McClaurin, seen here on the right standing next to Shaw Trustee Chairman Willie Gary last September when she was first hired, resigned as president of the historically black university on Tuesday amid controversy. [Shaw University photo]
QUESTIONS REMAIN AFTER MCCLAURIN
RESIGNATION FROM SHAW
By Cash Michaels
"Culture clash" is the term many Shaw University employees and alums are using as a key reason to explain the extraordinary and unexpected resignation this week of the school’s 15th president.
Indeed, sources have been informing The Carolinian since earlier this year, the problems at the beloved historically black university, scheduled to begin classes August 17th, despite severe budgetary challenges and recovering from an April tornado that crippled the campus, have been mounting ever since Dr. Irma McClaurin took the helm.
The Carolinian has learned that after a tumultuous eleven months, the Shaw Trustee Board, according to sources, decided to terminate her contract, and give McClaurin one-year’s severance pay.
Attorney Willie Gary, chairman of Shaw’s Trustee Board, confirmed what The Carolinian learned when he told the News and Observer Wednesday, “ It just wasn’t working.”
Sources tell The Carolinian that the board was reportedly displeased that McClaurin, 58, allegedly wasn’t raising the kind of funding they had expected from her after almost a year in office, and the trustees especially balked when she allegedly turned in a $300,000 budget for her installation ceremony in October.
As is custom in these kinds of separation, both parties agreed to publicly state that Dr. McClaurin’s departure was “mutual.”
McClaurin, an anthropologist, Chicago native and founding executive director of the Urban Research and Outreach Engagement Center at the University of Minnesota, could not be reached for comment Wednesday for this story. But on her website, she seemed to hint in a past writing that professionally, those who work with her can always expect something different.
“In my career, I’ve found that not following the routine trajectory has created unique opportunities for me,” she wrote. “I don’t fit the boxes, but I’ve learned from every experience, even when it hasn’t gone as expected.”
“We also assume the academy supports a free-flow of ideas,” McClaurin wrote. “Well…not all the time.”
Her detractors called her a “self-centered and dictatorial” leader who didn’t understand the culture of historically black institutions, and maybe wasn’t “tough enough” to lead one, having come from a white university.
“Many staff and students said that she is an African-American woman that has a white person’s approach,” said one former Shaw staffer.
An alum who spoke with The Carolinian agreed, using the term “culture clash” to describe McClaurin’s problems at the school. The person added that the problems started at the 201o Shaw Homecoming activities, when Dr. McClaurin was not “very embracing” at the Shaw alumni meeting, seeming indifferent to the special tradition and pride of the university.
But her supporters counter that McClaurin, “…brought a no nonsense, business approach [to Shaw University] that was severely lacking.” In the end, dealing with the mounting stress and tens of millions in school debt, particularly after working to get the campus repaired and ready for the new semester, may have proved to be too much for the Shaw president.
Based on interviews and information, the writing was on the wall very early.
In March 2011, a Shaw University employee, expressing exuberance and hope about the future of the historically black university under the leadership of Dr. McClaurin, wrote in an email to The Carolinian, “It won't be an easy job.... but we’re up for the challenge because we truly, truly, TRULY love our alma mater,” later adding, “Although it may not necessarily feel like good things are happening at the university...they truly are. People just aren't looking in the right places…yet.”
But by the end of May, that same devoted Shaw alum and employee had a dramatic change of heart.
“What we have seen, smelled, touched and heard over the course of the past four months is enough to make [founder] Henry Martin Tupper himself do cartwheels in his grave,” the emailer wrote. “I want to tell you that Shaw is in serious, serious trouble. But we CANNOT stand by idly, without the desire to help.”
By the middle of July, that Shaw employee had allegedly seen so much that was disturbing, the person was emailing again, literally asking for help.
“I am having serious regrets,” the Shaw employee wrote, later documenting disturbing allegations of malfeasance, failure in personal conduct, conflicts of interest and employee mistreatment covering the entire university administration. “I really wish that I had tried to "pay it forward" from the OUTSIDE because once I got on the INSIDE - - I have observed some things that were immoral, illegal and downright scary. Because of the culture of fear - - no one will rock the boat.”
Actually, at that same time, a former Shaw professor, alleging wrongful termination, was “rocking the boat,” supplying media outlets with documents purportedly showing how fired longtime Shaw employees were allegedly being denied due process.
This week, much of what that Shaw employee and professor allegedly saw and heard came to a head, and the 15th president of Shaw University - the school’s third leader in the past three years - announced her resignation just one month shy of her first anniversary, and two months out from a planned official installation ceremony.
Based on internal sources, former employees and press reports The Carolinian has reviewed, an unhealthy picture of a black university president constantly at war with many of her trustee board and faculty members, and campus employees, has emerged.
While much of the blame is placed on Dr. McClaurin, some say Shaw’s Trustee Board must also shoulder much of the blame for some of the administrative dysfunction.
“There was no accountability for funds,” Cornell Adams, a New Jersey businessman and trustee who resigned from the Shaw Trustee Board last month after three years, told The News and Observer. “I didn’t like the situation.”
Adams also made it clear that “there weren’t too many people happy with her.”
Indeed, Irma McClaurin, the first female to take the helm as Shaw University’s permanent president last September (former Johnson C. Smith University Dr. Dorothy Yancey served as interim president prior to McClaurin’s arrival), ran into a buzz saw of backlash almost as soon as she took the torch, sources confirm.
“Most alumni I’ve been in touch with or heard from are pleased with the separation,” responded one Shaw alumna. “It’s been a contentious 11 months or so, which in my opinion, didn’t get off to a good start.”
Perhaps Dr. McClaurin’s biggest controversy during her short tenure was her March 11th termination of four Shaw faculty members who had given a combined 68 years of service to the institution.
After word got out about the firings, protests by faculty, students and alums rang the Shaw Campus in April, alleging that the school violated its own policies in the process.
On April 11th in response, Dr. McClaurin issued a terse statement of rebuke, saying in part, “I think it unfortunate that at the very moment Shaw is gaining positive recognition locally and nationally that a few have chosen to become involved in university personnel matters, on which I am prevented from commenting for confidentiality reasons.”
McClaurin continued, “What I can tell you is that the information recently circulated by disgruntled employees contains only partial truths, and mixes employment activities that occurred years ago for various reasons with more recent actions, and tries to convey that these unrelated incidences are somehow part of an orchestrated plan.”
Shaw University has new leadership,” Dr. McClaurin went on, “…and with such comes change. I regret that many have lost sight of more pressing issues facing our beloved institution, such as the impact of proposed federal and state cuts in financial aid to our students, and the ramifications of such cuts for this institution.”
“To protest during commencement, when students should be celebrating their accomplishments, is an action that is neither in the best interest of our students, nor in the best interest of Shaw University,” she concluded.
Sources say McClaurin tried to resolve the matter by hiring an attorney to act as mediator to resolve the matter.
“We felt deceived when she announced mediation as a way to resolves the issues,” wrote one of the fired Shaw professors in a July 26th missive, adding that because they were terminated for little reason, they should just be reinstated without delay.
According to a July 8, 2011 letter to Dr. McClaurin from the American Association of University Professors, the March 11 letter of termination to the Shaw four notified them that “…their services were being terminated at the end of the 2010-11 academic year.”
The AAUP letter went on, “We understand that they received no explanation of the administration’s action and that they have not been afforded an opportunity to contest the action in an appropriate faculty hearing.”
The AAUP letter goes on to state that,”… the Shaw University faculty handbook contains no provisions for protecting academic freedom through a system of tenure.” AAUP argued that the four, who averaged anywhere from 12 to 20 years apiece, should have been tenured, and in effect, safe from termination long before they were notified.
AAUP urged McClaurin to reinstate the Shaw four, and, “…an attempt be made to seek a resolution acceptable to them.”
As of press time, the Shaw four are still gone, but now, so is the university president who fired them.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
“MAKE IT HAPPEN” SUMMER EXCLUSIVE - With all of the trouble, trouble, trouble in the world today…we decided to take a break from it all by digging deep into our treasure chest of rare, classic celebrity interviews, and pull out three of our best for this afternoon’s “Make it Happen” on Power 750 WAUG-AM and online at Power 750.com.
Even my readers in Wilmington can here this radio special.
Anita Baker, the songstress who gave us songs like “Sweet Love” and “No One in the World;” actress Esther Rolle, who famously portrayed “Florida Evans” on the hit 1970’s CBS sitcom “Good Times”; and the haunting talent of the extraordinary Phyllis Hyman, who gave us songs like “Old Friend” and “You Know How to Love Me.”
Hyman died by suicide June 30, 1995, and Ms. Rolle passed away November 17, 1998 from complications with diabetes.
Just as there was something very special about each performer, so it is in each interview, and I think it will be worth a listen. That’s this afternoon at 4 p.m. on Power 750 WAUG-Am, or online at Power 750.com.
But if you miss the show Thursday, just go to my blog at http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/08/anita-baker-esther-rolle-and-phyllis.html, click the podcast download link “here” to your computer or iphone/ipad, then listen and enjoy to your hearts content.
GIL NOBLE - If you’re a native North Carolinian and know little about New York City television, then the name “Gil Noble” means little to you. But what if I told you that in the world’s largest and greatest television market. Gil Noble has the nation’s longest black public affairs TV shows in history called “Like It Is.”
“Like It Is” has been on WABC-TV in New York for, get this now, 43 years. When it comes to journalists, let alone black journalists, there is no one who compares to Gil Noble. He has covered every important story in Black America for over a half century, starting as a reporter on black-owned WLIB-AM in Harlem, moving to TV in 1967. During his long and distinguished award-winning career, Noble has interviewed everyone from Muhammad Ali to Lena Horne.
I mention Bro. Noble because at age 79, he was stricken with a stroke last week. He was taken to a New York hospital in critical condition. At last reports, he’s in a coma and is said to be still critical as of Tuesday, according to BlackAmericaWeb.com.
As a young black child, I watched this wise, intelligent black man on my TV set every Sunday afternoon on WABC-TV tell me about my world and my people, not just here, but in Africa too. Gil Noble is a soft-spoken make, but his prose are powerful and insightful. He’s made several extraordinary documentaries about black history, including on Paul Robeson.
In 1997 when I went to Harlem to attend the Million Youth March, I bumped into Gil Noble on the street, and I couldn’t believe it. I darn near genuflected to the man telling him how much I admired his work.
So I ask my readers, in their prayers, to raise up the name of Gil Noble, and ask that GOD bless him and his family. He is that rare, very rare good man who has served our community with a commitment like none other.
CELEBRATING MRS. MURRAY - Last Saturday, hundreds came out in force to honor a true civic leader and community champion, Mrs. Margaret Rose Murray.
The Grand Ballroom of the Raleigh Convention Center was packed with dignitaries - from grassroots folks to powerful Washington politicians, and even young children. All there to pay tribute, and celebrate the 80th birthday of Mrs. Murray.
It was good to see the extraordinary turnout, and feel the love for Mrs. Murray, long time producer/hostess of “Traces of Faces and Places” on 88.9FM WSHA. Of course there were remarks from officials like Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, and congressmen Brad Miller and G. K. Butterfield.
The family of Mrs. Murray, including her two sons, Isaiah and Kenneth Jr., were there to express their love and gratitude.
And, of course, tribute was also paid to Mrs. Murray’s beloved partner in life, her late husband, Imam Kenneth Murray Muhammad.
Even I had a chance to say a few words, lightening the mood a bit by asking Mrs. Murray who gave her permission to turn 80, but look 50!
I also told Mrs. Murray that I hope I look a good when I reach 80, but I don’t think I’m going to make it. These Tea Party people are killing me, I told her.
The audience, but most importantly Mrs. Murray, got a few chuckles from that, which is what I hoped for.
There is no one like Mrs. Margaret Rose Murray. A beacon of strength, wisdom, commitment, and love. She is an educator, businesswoman, and human rights activist. She has given tirelessly and generously of herself for over 50 years.
Mrs. Murray is now opening her nonprofit Marrkens Development Center to teach adult students - young and old - holistic skills by which prosper.
At 80, there is no slowing down Mrs. Murray.
GOD bless her…always!
THE PLOT TO STOP REV. SHARPTON - We’ve been following a very interesting media development of late that is not surprising, but is disturbing. As you may know, the on “ Rev. Al Sharpton has been hosting the 6 p.m. hour on MSNBC for the past month, as well as sitting in s substitute host on “The Ed Show” when Ed Shultz is away.
Rev. started out a little rocky, but in no time at all, he’s embraced the format of cable talk television, and has been doing a bang-up job. Indeed the ratings for his MSNBC show at 6 p.m. have been pretty good, with Sharpton beating Wolf Blitzer’s “The Situation Room” on CNN at that hour CNN has since put reporter John King in that spot).
Published reports have suggested that Rev. and MSNBC management have been talking contract for him to officially take over that spot. If that indeed happens, Sharpton will be the only African-American with a cable talk program in prime time. After all, if CNN could give the prostitute-loving former governor of New York his own prime time show (which didn’t last long), then why not a noted black civil rights leader.
But of course there are people opposing Rev. Sharpton getting his own show, and not from whom you think.
The opposition is coming mainly from black and white liberal journalists.
White liberals have always tolerated Sharpton, mainly because he has influence and a national profile. But they’ve never seen him as an equal. As long as he “stayed” in her proverbial “place,” they had no problem shaking his hand.
But here other white liberals have given Rev. Sharpton one hour of primetime real estate at the dinner hour to show his stuff, and all of a sudden folks are up in arms that the world is coming to an end.
Then there are black journalists who protest that Sharpton has no business hosting a talk show because he is not a journalist. Well neither is Lawrence O’Donnell who hosts’ MSNBC’s 8 p.m. slot; or Rachel Maddow, who has the number show on MSNBC at 9 p.m.; or Ed Shultz who hosts at 10 p.m.
For that matter, neither did perenial presidential candidate Alan Keyes, a black Republican who worked in the Reagan Administration, who had a show on MSNBC about ten years ago.
Or what about the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had very popular Sunday show on CNN called “Both Sides” on CNN for a couple of years? How come no one remembers that?
I’m not saying a black journalist shouldn’t host a prime time cable show. Of course. But he or she must be able to attract an audience, because after all, it is a ratings game. Right now, the man suited for the job is the Rev. Al Sharpton. He knows how to get to the heart of an issue and still draw a crowd.
Rev has a right to host the show.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.Power750.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.”
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, by Cash Michaels, honored this year as well by NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian your life. Bye, bye.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS
FIVE CANDIDATES VIE FOR RALEIGH DISTRICT C COUNCIL SEAT
Who says people aren’t interested in politics? The race for the Raleigh City Council District C seat is the hottest thus far with one day left to file, and five candidates signed to go for it during the Oct. 11 election. Incumbent Councilman Eugene Weeks, who was appointed months ago to takeover the unexpired term of former Councilman James West, has four opponents to deal with - Corey Demont Branch, Lent Christopher Carr II, Shelia Jones and Paul Francis Terrell III. The council term is two years.
CREDIT AGENCIES TO REVIEW WAKE COUNTY, DURHAM CITY DEBT
In the wake of Standard and Poor’s downgrading of the nation’s bond rating from AAA to AA+, local governments that get substantial sums of federal funding are now facing reviews of their credit worthiness from rating agencies. State Treasurer Janet Cowell says the state’s credit is still AAA, but the finances of Wake County and Durham city, along with New Hanover County, Guilford County, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Mecklenburg County are all under review. The results should be known in a few weeks.
UNC-CHAPEL HILL CHANCELLOR THREATENED WITH PROSPECTIVE LAWSUIT POVER DAVIS FIRING
UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorpe is catching major heat from several supporters of the Tar Heel football team in the aftermath of his firing of head Coach Butch Davis. Davis was terminated several weeks ago because, according to Thorpe, the controversy surrounding NCAA violations in Davis’ program threatened the integrity of the school. Supporters are threatening to sue Thorpe, saying they engaged in fundraising for the football program on the promise that Davis would remain as coach. Several lawyers representing the group are asking for records and correspondence from Thorpe to prove their case.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS
LEGAL AID CLOSES OFFICES IN SMITHFIELD AND HENDERSON
[SMITHFIELD] Budget cuts from state and federal governments have forced Legal Aid of North Carolina to close its offices in Smithfield, Henderson and Boone by the end of September, leaving low-income people in those areas without legal advocates. The $2 million reduction in funding also forced reduced services in Winston-Salem, Rocky Mount and Sylva. While some private attorneys may step up to pick up the slack, they are not likely to be able to handle the volume of cases that Legal Aid did, officials say.
GRADUATION RATES RISE FOR CMS BLACK, LOW INCOME STUDENTS
[CHARLOTTE] Graduation rates for black, Hispanic and low-income students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public School System rose in 2011, but still lag behind figures for white students. Sixty-six percent of black students walked the stage in 2011, five percent more in 2010, while 64 percent of low-income students and 57 percent of Hispanic students - four and three percentage points higher than the year before - also graduated. Overall, CMS had a 72 percent graduation rate. Wake County had an 80 percent overall rate (with black students at 67 percent and Hispanics at 65 percent). The state’s overall rate is 78 percent (with blacks at 71, Hispanics at 69 percent).
WOMAN DIES IN CHARLOTTE FLOOD
[CHARLOTTE] Two women, caught in a flash flood last week that paralyzed the Queen City, fell victim to the fast moving waters that trapped people in their homes and cars. One woman went missing, while the other drowned, officials say. Gracie Nell Johnson, 43, was identified as the drowning victim. Police say she and two other woman were allegedly shoplifting at a store when the tragedy occurred. A third woman was taken into custody.