Tuesday, October 18, 2011


SPECIAL NOTE - Per the NNPA Story about the King Memorial dedicatiion, please add that five buses from the Triangle and North Carolina attended the ceremonies last Sunday.
                                         MLK MEMORIAL IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

By Cash Michaels

            Top Democratic Party leaders in the state, including Gov. Beverly Perdue, are hailing last week’s near sweep in the contentious Wake School Board elections that saw four out of five Democrats win convincingly, with one remaining contest slated for a Nov. 8th runoff.
            In an exclusive interview with the radio program, “Make It Happen, “ which will air this afternoon at 4 p.m. on Power 750 WAUG-AM/Power 750.com, Gov. Perdue, in High Point last Friday to deliver a keynote luncheon address to the NCNAACP, said she hoped that the Democratic victories would help put an end to the “embarrassing” controversy of the Republican-led Wake School Board’s efforts to end student diversity since 2009.
            “I thought it was embarrassing for the state to have folks across the nation talking about what was going on in Wake County school system. We're better than that,” Perdue told “Make It Happen,” referring to Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert  ribbing Wake County Schools on national television several months ago for dismantling its diversity policy in favor of a resegregated neighborhood schools policy.
            “The fact that there was ever a discussion about eliminating diversity as part of the opportunity for kids really was troublesome to me,” Perdue continued. “You've got to remember I grew up poor and without a fair chance of going to a great public school. I don't know what would have happened to me.”
            Gov. Perdue added, “I do understand parents who want community schools. I do think that is doable with diversity, and so I'm very hopeful.”
            Outgoing Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, whose wife, Dr. Anne McLaurin, will be leaving the Wake School Board next month, also saluted the Democratic victories as a welcomed promise of change from the Republican rancor and contentiousness of the last two years.
            “It really is remarkable,” Mayor Meeker said, pointing to  the loss of Chairman Ron Margiotta in his “gerrymandered” Republican District 8 in Southwest Wake to Democrat Susan Evans as proof that voters wanted an immediate change.
            The victories of NCSU Prof. Jim Martin, Christine Kushner, and incumbent Keith Sutton - who crushed his Republican challenger Venita Peyton with 81 percent of the vote - added further proof that Wake’s voters did not like the direction in which Chairman Margiotta was headed.
            “They rejected not only his style of politics - the secret meetings, the rudeness and all of that - but also the substance, pushing divisive issues, bringing in racial parts, trying to allow under-performing schools…all of that has been rejected by our citizens.”
            Meeker continued, “I hope we’re headed towards a much better day towards school board policy, where they focus on student achievement, and not politics.”
            Congressman Brad Miller (D-13-NC) echoed the sentiments of Gov. Perdue and Mayor Meeker, applauding the Democratic Wake School Board victories.
            “I was very pleased with the outcome,” Miller told “Make It Happen.” “ I’ve been very disturbed, as I know [others] have been, as to what has happened to the Wake County schools.”
             “We [once] had one of the nation’s best school systems, and we’ve done it while promoting diversity,” Cong. Miller continued. “If you have a division between rich schools and poor schools, it’s going to continue to pull further and further apart, because the rich schools will have more support.”
            “So I’m very pleased with the result, and I hope it puts us back on track to have a nationally recognized school system that gives kids a good education, and prepares them for anything they want for themselves in the future,” Miller added, hopeful that diversity will also return as a feature of Wake County Public Schools.
That remains to be seen, however.
By a 6-2 vote Tuesday evening, and at the strong urging of Wake Supt. Anthony Tata, the GOP-led school board adopted a school choice plan to begin the 2012-13 school year, that gives parents options on where to send their children.
            Critics, however, are concerned that because of capacity issues, the plan may create low-performing, high poverty neighborhood schools like the one the board just opened, Walnut Creek Elementary School in Southeast Raleigh.
            The school is only two months old, and already it is over 100 students beyond capacity, an estimated 77 percent free-and-reduced lunch, and over 50 percent low-achieving, costing over $1 million more per year to operate than comparable elementary schools in the system.
            Two of the board’s four Democrats - Kevin Hill of District 3 and Keith Sutton of predominately black District 4, voted against the plan, echoing the concerns of many at a public hearing the previous week.
            Though the plan passed, due, in part, to Tata insisting that implementation needs to begin as soon as possible, the prospect of it being halted looms large, pending the Nov. 8th District 3 race between incumbent Kevin Hill, and Republican Tea Party challenger Heather Losurdo, who came in second to Hill in the election when he fell short 51 votes short of winning 50 percent of the total.
            Losurdo, who has admitted to supporting the right-wing Tea Party and agreed with her husband on Facebook that President Obama was just like a skunk - “black, white and everything he dies smells” - has already officially called for the runoff.
Early voting for the Nov. 8th runoff in District 3 began today.
            If Losurdo wins the runoff, the GOP retain their five-member majority on the board, and Vice Chair John Tedesco takes over for the outgoing Republican Chairman Ron Margiotta.
            However if Hill wins, the Democrats takeover the board majority, and have already indicated that they will change the school choice plan to address the public’s concerns about student achievement and low-performing schools.
            Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said it’s crucial for the voters of District 3 to “make their choice.”
            “I think they’re going to make the right choice,” Meeker said. “We can move forward as a community together, or we can get back to these partisan agendas, and have someone like John Tedesco be the chair.”
            “I think it’s a pretty clear choice,” Meeker concluded, referring to fellow Democrat Kevin Hill, “ and I think the people of District 3 will make the right choice.”
            Gov. Perdue was also hopeful for a Democratic majority on the Wake School Board.
            “The work is not done yet,” she told Power 750 AM’s “Make It Happen.” “There is another election. We all are going to watch and be enthusiastically following. But I'm very hopefully that this will mean a time out for any school system in North Carolina that wants to go backward on kids who are at risk.”
“It's the wrong thing for this state,” Gov. Perdue concluded. “We're better than that.”

By Cash Michaels

            Saying that,” We live in a time now…” where the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Act, “…are under attack, NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber challenged this year’s state NAACP Convention in High Point to “fight back” against injustice and disenfranchisement.
            “The strategy to stop any effort at Reconstruction has always consisted of four direct actions:  Attacking voting rights, attacking tax revenue and government programs and agencies designed to promote social uplift, attacking public educational policy, and attacking or assassinating white and black progressive leaders,” Rev. Barber told those gathered Saturday morning in his “The State of Civil Rights” address, after recalling how the historic period of black political and economic achievement after the Civil War in North Carolina was systematically decimated by white supremacists.
Rev. Barber recalled how the NAACP was born in 1909 by both black and white abolitionists to fight racial injustice in the South, and promote civil rights in the face of increasing intolerance.
He said that spirit and commitment must be reclaimed, in the face of a conservative rollback of civil rights, and takeover of government nationally, and here in North Carolina.
Barber was especially concerned about concerted effort in at least 30 states across the nation to suppress the voting power of blacks, Hispanics and young people with voter ID laws.
“Because of the power, necessity, and potential of the black, brown, and progressive vote, we must fight any attempts to suppress, segregate, isolate, or steal this right,” said Rev. Barber. “Everything we fight for, equal protection under the law, educational equality, economic justice, access to healthcare, are all directly impacted by voting, we must fight any attempt to suppress, segregate, isolate, or steal the power, necessity, and potential of our vote!”
“We must fight the forces trying to suppress our vote, and cut to the quick of the consciousness of our people who refuse to vote,” the civil rights leader later said.
Barber warned about the efforts of right-wing entities like the Tea Party and the wealthy industrialists, the Koch brothers.
“What we see happening today is not just about us, but also about the hope and the future of our children.  We must take it personally and fight back against any attempt to suppress, segregate, isolate, and steal the power and potential of our vote,” Rev. Barber said.
Because we understand this so-called debt crisis created by the ultraconservative extreme right-wing is not just an effort to stop President Obama but an attempt to finalize a forty-year strategy to undermine, underfund, and destroy every program, like Social Security implemented in 1935 or Medicaid in 1960’s, that furthers the cause of justice for all and has sought to uplift the forces of oppression from the backs of black, brown, and poor people, we must fight back against any attempt to suppress, segregate, isolate, and steal our vote,” the NCNAACP president continued.
“One percent of Americans own forty prevent of [this nation’s] wealth, and the wealth gap between the rich and poor is wider and deeper than the Great Depression.  Because there are those who want corporations to control the political process rather than we the people,” Rev. Barber said. “We must fight back against any attempt to suppress, segregate, isolate, and steal the power and potential of our vote.”
Rev. Barber also noted how the poverty rate in North Carolina is at its highest since 1981, with more than one in four African-Americans in the state in poverty, and black unemployment up nationally to over 16 percent.
Barber also blasted steep budget cuts to social programs by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, including almost thirty percent from public education and Health and Human Services; twenty percent from state universities and community colleges; and ten percent from the courts and public safety.
Rev. Barber also addressed efforts across the state to resegregate black students in high poverty public schools.
“Because public education is under attack -- bold and brazen ultra conservative school broad members across the state and country advance policies of resegregation that create high poverty racially identifiable schools that undermine quality education for all, in the name of neighborhood schools and with premeditative goals to dismantle public education as we know it,” he said.
The NCNAACP leader took time to also blast the state Republican redistricting maps which allegedly “stack and pack” black voters to minority-majority districts so that the GOP could retain power and control on Jones Street.
Rev. Barber wasn’t happy that only one African-American federal judge sits in North Carolina’s federal courts, though blacks make up 22 percent of the state’s population.
“There are thirteen seats on North Carolina’s federal district courts; four in the Eastern District; four in the Middle District and five in the Western District,” Barber said. “Only one African American sits on a North Carolina federal district court: When James Beaty, Jr. is eligible to retire in 2014, there will be no African American representation.”
Rev. Barber concluded his remarks with a call to social justice arms.
“Now is the time for us to come out, fight back, and show this nation that we, the sons and daughters of freedom fighters, make one promise to America, from which we will never retreat,” The NCNAACP leader said.
“When it comes to our rights, ordained by God and guaranteed by our constitution, we will turn back we will never, never, never turn back from the battle.”


[JAMESTOWN] In an effort to drum up public support for his American Jobs Act, President Barack Obama toured Western North Carolina Monday and Tuesday by bus, telling cheering crowds that Republicans in Congress are blocking his efforts to create jobs and jumpstart the economy. The president spoke from Asheville to Jamestown just outside of Greensboro. He visited small towns, and ate lunches in small restaurants, shaking hands with townspeople, and greeting school children. Obama considers North Carolina an important swing state, aides say, a swing state which he won in 2008. He wants to keep it in play for his 2012 re-election bid.

            [WINSTON-SALEM] Two death row inmates are now clear to have their cases considered under the controversial Racial Justice Act. A Forsyth County Superior Court judge dismissed motions by prosecutors to disallow the hearings, claiming that the inmates - Carl Stephen Moseley and Errol Duke Moses - failed to prove that racial bias occurred in the prosecution of their capital cases. Moseley, who is white, was sentenced to death almost 20 years ago for killing two white women. Moses, who is black, was sentenced to death for the murder of two black men in 1995 and 1996. The Racial Justice Act, passed by the NC General Assembly in 2009, allows the court to determine whether racial bias played any role in capital murder convictions.

            [RALEIGH]  Demonstrators gathered at the state Capitol Monday to protest unfair, predatory foreclosure practices by banks that are forcing people out of their homes without proper documentation. Many homeowners who lost their jobs and fell behind in their mortgages have made efforts to have them modified, only to be rebuffed by the banks, or given the runaround. The demonstration Monday coincided with oral arguments before the NC Supreme Court in Dobson v Wells Fargo, where Wells Fargo Bank is asking the court to allow it to foreclose on the home of Linda Dobson, even though it doesn’t have the original paperwork to prove ownership of her property. State Attorney General Roy Cooper attended the rally, and told demonstrators that their voices were being heard.



            Ten new citizens were inducted Monday evening into the Raleigh Hall of Fame
For 2011 during ceremonies at the Raleigh Convention and Conference Center. African-Americans among the honorees included retired Wake Superior Court Judge George R. Greene; former Wake County Commissioner Harold Webb and his wife Lucille; and the Raleigh Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Honorees were recognized for their extraordinary contributions to the city of Raleigh. Mayor Charles Meeker presented the medallions.

            Will Daniel Coleman remain the president of the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association? The grassroots community organization will answer that question when it meets to decide on Thursday, November 17, 7 p.m. at Robert Park Community Center. Though RWCA elects new leadership in the November of every odd-numbered year, there was no election in 2009, thus allowing Coleman to serve unchallenged since 2007. Even though RWCA did not endorse any candidates in the October elections, Coleman used organization letterhead to endorse a failed Raleigh mayoral candidate, to the chagrin of some members.

            If there’s a bright light in the Triangle’s gloomy economic picture, it’s home sales, which continue to creep up in the face of high unemployment.  After a poor start this year, home sales in the third quarter went up 17 percent better than this time last year.  Part of the reason for the sales drop-off last year was the ending of the federal homebuyer tax credits in June 2010. Experts say they expect home sales in the Raleigh-Durham market to continue to climb for the remainder of the year.

JUDGE GREENE INDUCTED IN RALEIGH HALL OF FAME - Retired Wake Superior Court Judge George R. Greene (fourth from the right) was among the honorees Monday night at the 2011 Raleigh Hall of Fame ceremonies.  In this picture are his family members (from left to right) - Marcel Braithwaite and Karen Greene Braithwaite from NYC; George R. Greene Jr. of Raleigh; Ruby Powell Greene and the honoree George R. Greene Sr.; Willa- Jo Greene Hodge of Beltsville MD;  Ava Greene Bedden and Dr. Dana Bedden of Irving Texas. [photo courtesy of Ava Greene Bedden]

                        OCCUPY RALEIGH - This gentleman was one of few
                       African-Amercians to take part in the "Occupy Raleigh"
                       demonstration last Saturday at the state Capitol in Raleigh.
                       The international protests, modeled after the "Occupy Wall
                        Street" massive demonstrations in New York City, call for
                       economic justice, and an end to allowing the rich to profit
                        at the expense of the poor and working class [photo
                        courtesy of Marjorie Fields-Harris] 

By Cash Michaels

            HEY PRINCE, WHAT GIVES? -  Don’t you hate it when folks who were once thick as thieves (and half as trustworthy) after a while, just don’t get along?
            That’s the case with 80’s -90’s singer Prince and his former band, The Time. According to published reports, lead singer Morris Day, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jellybean Johnson, Jerome Benton and company, wanted to get back together after years of being out of circulation.
            There was just one problem - their old boss, Prince, of “Purple Rain” and “Little Red Corvette” fame, owns the name, “The Time,” and wasn’t letting go of it. So after a lot of back and forth, the fellas came up with a new name, “The Original 7even.”
            Yep, The Original 7even!
            I don’t particularly care for it either, but what really matters is their music, and on that, I’ve always given The Time the highest props. They have a new album out (under the new lame name) titled, “Condensate” which came out Tuesday.
            The question is, who is their market now? Most of The Time’s market are in their 50’s and 60’s now. Heck, the group looks like a bunch of old men if you remove the fancy outfits.
            So who is going to by their CDs now, which probably cost twice as much as they did 20 years ago when they were still selling vinyl records? And what radio stations will be playing their new album? And can they adequately compete against the no-talent acts of today?
There’s a reason why time passed this group by, no matter how big they once were.
I wish The Original 7even luck, I really do. I just can’t see how they’re going to make a full-fledged comeback today. It is a much different world than it was 20 years ago.
Much different.
CHRIS TUCKER TROUBLE - So now we’re hearing that comedian Chris Tucker is losing his $6 million in Florida because of money and tax problems.
What I don’t understand is why isn’t Chris working?
I don’t mean on a comedy tour like the one he came to Raleigh on several months ago. I’m sure that’s good money, but it’s not the kind of money that he needs.
Why hasn’t Chris made a movie, ANY movie, in almost a decade? Lord knows the guy is funny, and he starred in three hit “Rush Hour” films with the incredible Jackie Chan, flicks he certainly made millions from.
And before that, Chris made films in the famous “Friday” series with Ice Cube.
So why can’t, or why won’t Chris make more films? Clearly, given that he still has fans, his name means something at the box office?
I don’t know, but I sure wish I had the answers.
            SO WHAT HAPPENED IN WAKE COUNTY? -  When In was in High Point last week covering the NCNAACP Convention there, people from across the state who recognized me asked me the same question, “How did y’all in Wake County win those school board elections?”
            I was so tempted to say, “Simple,” but it wasn’t. And that’s why folks in Raleigh and beyond should feel so proud of themselves.
            It was a monumental task, winning five of five open seats on the Republican-led Wake County School Board, four of the Democrat and the fifth one held by the incumbent Republican and board chairman, Ron Margiotta.
            Margiotta’s district, in particular, was the most conservative Republican of all, and he was the most entrenched incumbent having represented the area on the board since 2003.
            And as for the four Democratic seats, two of them were held by Democratic incumbents, and the other two were all newcomers since the Democrats there decided not to run again.
            So what happened? Why did the Democrats win against tough Republican opposition, and why Margiotta lose?
            Because the people had had enough!
            The Republican majority on the Wake School Board overplayed their hand as soon as they took office in December 2009. Yes, there were many citizens how had problems with the previous school boards, and there were definitely problems with the student assignment plan where children were being moved from school to school almost every year.
            For the record, that was because of Wake’s tremendous growth, not because of a diversity policy. Still, the GOP board used that to push for neighborhood schools.
            So the GOP took advantage of the anger. But they did what most stupid people do in this situation, namely misinterpreted their election as a blank check to carry out their warped political agenda in a power-hungry, arrogant and disrespectful way.
            After two years of literally destroying what was once one of the top public school systems in the nation, the people determined that they had had enough, and couldn’t wait to vote.
            The only perpetrated they could touch was the ringleader, Margiotta. His gruff and calculating manner of running the board was an embarrassment, and a disgrace. His top lieutenant, Vice Chair John Tedesco, was even more of disgrace, attacking people personally in public; twisting the facts to suit his purpose, and bragging that he knew more about educating black children because of all the old black “girlfriends” he has.
            There are people just counting the days now until 2013 when Tedesco is up for re-election out in Garner.
            But what was most impressive was that unlike other important elections in the past, the Democratic Party did not roll over and play dead here. Instead, the county Democrats, led by Chairman Mack Paul, took the fight to the unsuspecting Republicans, racking up impressive vote margins in all five contests.
            And even more impressively, ousting Margiotta in his own Republican-led district, forcing the chairman and Tedesco to blame his voters for not showing up.
            They did show up, Ron, they just voted AGAINST you, buddy!
            With the exception of Districts 3 and 8, Dems led the GOP almost 2 to 1, and never looked back.
            So now in District 3, there is officially a runoff between Democratic incumbent Kevin Hill, and GOP challenger Heather Losurdo, because Hill was 51 votes shy of winning by 50 percent.
            So if the Democrats are going to take back the Wake School Board, they have to win this November 8th District 3 runoff between Hill and Losurdo.
            Or else the Republicans retain the majority, and Vice Chair John Tedesco… becomes chairman.
            Let’s see what the Democrats do, and if they can do it again.
MAHALIA’S 100 - If she had lived, gospel singing legend Mahalia Jackson would be turning 100 years-old this October 26th. No one had her voice, her sound, or her spirit, which is why, even today, almost 40 years since her death in 1972, Mahalia Jackson is still beloved, regarded and respected in a class by herself.
            Besides, Mahalia was my late mother’s favorite gospel artist, and I can still hear Mom as she sang many of Mahalia’s greatest hits around the house as a little boy back in Brooklyn. So I don’t play when it comes to Mahalia Jackson.
            That’s why this Sunday, Oct. 23rd, 5 p.m. at Lincoln Park Holiness Church where Bishop Eli Ratcliff is the pastor, the community is invited to what promises to be an extraordinary concert celebrating the 100th birthday of Mahalia Jackson, featuring a young lady who has astounded audiences across North Carolina for years with her voice and talent, Ms. Lynette Barber.
            Lynette used to be one of my students when I worked at St. Augustine’s College back in 1988 - 1990. Today, she is a teacher, but when she isn’t in the classroom, or at church, Lynette is thrilling audiences with a voice you simply have to hear.
            If anyone can pay tribute to the great Mahalia Jackson…indeed if anyone ever has paid tribute to that singular legend of good gospel music, Lynnette Barber has.
            So why am I piling it on so thick here? Because, like those who’ve already heard Lynette do Mahalia, I KNOW you’re in for a special treat when you attend this concert on Sunday, Oct. 23rd, at Lincoln Park Holiness Church, 13 Heath Street in Raleigh. This concert is free and open to the public, and NOT to be missed.
            So circle the date, this Sunday, Oct. 23rd, and let’s all come out and support Lynette as she gives us the absolute best of Mahalia Jackson.
            Sure this is normally in Church News, but if I’m telling you about it, then you know it’s going to be something special.
            See you and yours this Sunday Oct. 23rd! Take it from me, Lynette will be worth it!
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. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

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