Tuesday, May 29, 2012


REJOICE!- Dr. Benjamin Chavis, leader of the Wilmington Ten, says forty years after they were falsely convicted, that it is time to "Rejoice" that support is building for pardons of innocence [Cash Michaels video still]

By Cash Michaels

            Hundreds of citizens from across the nation are now expressing their support for the pardons campaign for the Wilmington Ten; joining congresspeople, state lawmakers and civil rights leadership in calling for the names of ten falsely convicted activists to be cleared after forty years.
            Meanwhile last week, after a presentation by attorney Irving Joyner, co-chair of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project, the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus voted unanimously to request of Gov. Beverly Perdue that she grant individual pardons of “actual innocence” to the Wilmington Ten, three of whom are deceased.
            The NCNAACP, which facilitated that meeting, also spearheaded the effort to have the national NAACP Board of Directors to also unanimously pass a resolution of support.
            “It was one of the proudest things I’ve ever done,” Rev. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP, told The Carolinian.
            In addition, thousands have visited the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project page on Facebook to see archival photos, watch the videos, read the posts and articles, and click over to the Change.Org petition page, which had amassed nearly three hundred signatures, after only just over a week, by press time Wednesday.
            Of course there are the expected in-state signatures of support on the online petition from Durham, Raleigh, Charlotte, and yes, Wilmington. But there are an impressive number of support signatures from places like Fair Oaks, California, Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC, among many more.
            And in many of those are comments of outrage that the state of North Carolina, has not seen fit in the past forty years to correct its wrongful convictions of the Wilmington Ten, sentencing them collectively to 282 years in prison on conspiracy charges associated with racial violence in Wilmington in Feb. 1971, and specifically the firebombing of a white-owned grocery store.
            I lived in NC from 1965 to 1970, so I followed this case with great concern from its inception. I hadn't realized that the ten hadn't been "completely" pardoned. Please pardon them now,” wrote Ted Cloak of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
            Rhonda Baird of Silver Spring, Maryland wrote, “As Dr. King stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
            It is past time to ring the bells of justice,” wrote Linda Jaramillo of Cleveland, Ohio on the Change.Org petition for the Wilmington Ten pardon petition. “The General Synod of the United Church of Christ stands in solidarity with the Wilmington 10 and appeal to our brothers and sisters of the Church to do the same. We pray for a just and speedy decision by Governor Perdue.”
            “Prosecutorial Misconduct,” declared Danita Parker of Rougemont, NC. “The things which were done in the Wilmington 10 case contrasted with the Duke Lacrosse Case makes Nifong appear to be an angel. Let's right the wrong in this situation. Yes NC has a very storied history, so does America. These fellows have lost any real opportunity to live a normal life. Give them peace at this late age. May the Peace of the Lord be with you always!
            Scott Douglas of Birmingham, Alabama wrote, “Unfinished human rights business of importance."
            From Wilmington, NC, Dr. Bettie Glenn wrote, “People of courage stood their ground, sacrificed life and liberty to bring attention to the inequality in American Society. The Wilmington 10 took bold and historic action to hold America accountable. Democracy is not free; therefore, those wronged in the fight for human rights should be treated justly. Do that which is right, just, and moral!”
            A former North Carolina resident, Frank Chadwick of Rantoul, Illinois, wrote directly to Gov. Perdue, saying, “I call on you to make it clear where you stand on the terrible injustice done forty years ago, because on this matter you speak for North Carolina. You cannot undo that injustice, but your actions will tell the world that North Carolina today either abhors the criminal acts of its former prosecutors, or it shrugs and considers them unimportant. Please do not simply shrug.”
            From Craftsbury, Vermont, Sonia Dunbar wrote, “As an attorney, a member of the United Church of Christ and a ministerial student, I firmly believe that the correct judicial, moral, ethical, religious and policy-based action to take is to issue a pardon and thereby reaffirm the importance of the First Amendment in North Carolina.
            And Latasha Perry of Wilmington, a grandchild of a late Wilmington Ten member Anne Shepard, wrote, “You have no choice but to pardon the innocent. There is no legal justification for withholding a public pardon of the innocent as ruled by our own courts.”
“It is shameful enough that innocent citizens spent time in prison due to wrongful convictions based primarily on the admittedly fictitious testimony of the witnesses the conviction was founded on. Apparently our justice system is so jaded that it is implied that release of the Wilmington 10 should be compensation enough. It is not.”
 Ms. Perry continued, “
Lives were ruined. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters divided from their families. Years of life lost behind bars. And even after release, many suffered the consequences of being deemed guilty, despite being presumed innocent according to our own laws. 
For us it is not about monetary compensation, it is about righting a wrong that is long overdue.”
“How can we preserve the rights we are due as citizens, preserve the justice system we are taught to rely on for the enforcement of those rights for "The people," unless we take the steps to make this right? 
Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat - innocent until proven guilty. 
Pardon the innocent,” Ms. Perry wrote.
The Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project is located on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheWilmingtonTenPardonOfInnocenceProject
Editor’s Note - Cash Michaels is the coordinator for the Wilmington Ten Pardons of innocence Project, which is sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

                                      WAKE SUPT. ANTHONY TATA

By Cash Michaels
An analysis

            If retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata expected public school politics in Wake County to be any less stressful, and less challenging than his over 25 years in the US Army, he’s thinking again.
            Clearly, after almost a year-and-a-half on the job as superintendent of Wake County Public Schools, and less than five years of any actual experience working in any public school system in any capacity, the veteran military man seems to be holding on for dear life, instead of confidently leading the nation’s 16th largest public school district to greater heights.
            Just take Tata’s most recent public complaint, in an ongoing series of complaints and public tirades, ever since a new Democratic-led school board took over six months ago.
            At last week’s school board meeting, stung by the growing criticism of the school choice assignment plan that he pressed the previous Republican-led school board to pass last October, Supt. Tata rapped the hands of the current Democratic majority for putting him on notice that they’ve waited long enough for his staff to shake out the plans’ problems.
            “The board should be helping us implement this assignment plan so that we can take care of 150,000 students that will be going to school next year,” Tata is quoted as saying, suggesting that the board should be lining up behind him in “one voice.”
 “If there was overwhelming disagreement, then the assignment plan should have been voted against or voted upon. But we’re in this netherworld where the new board never voted for or against it.”
And that’s because earlier this year when the new board, with different ideas on how a school choice plan should work took over, Supt. Tata asked them not to do anything except trust that he and his staff would monitor the plan, and deal with whatever problems arise.
“Let’s wait until the choice process plays out,” Tata told reporters on his one year anniversary Jan. 31st, amid parents’ complaints that they were getting a pig in a poke.
“Some parents have been dismayed to find out that their menu of school choices, in reality, is smaller than meets the eye, and they’re not thrilled with their options,” opined a weary News & Observer Feb. 1 editorial three months ago.
Wake County realtors quickly became nonbelievers when they met with the superintendent, telling him to his face, and subsequently to the Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, that without guarantees that Tata’s school choice plan will indeed give families moving to the area the choice of schools they desire, they consider the plan bad for business.
Tata was forced to grasp at the first report of improved home sales in Wake to counter the realtors’ claims, even though earlier, a chagrined Tata promised to increase capacity at schools to make everyone happy.
It didn’t help when parents, encouraged to go online to make their school choices, couldn’t get their results because of some ill-timed computer glitches that the superintendent had to apologize for.
It also didn’t help when Tata, clearly feeling pressure from outside groups like Great Schools in Wake Coalition - who have called for the school choice plan to be dumped, and a new one adopted - accused two Democratic school board members of being connected to GSWIC, and demanded - twice - that they publicly denounce his adversaries.
After being taken to the woodshed by Chairman Kevin Hill, Tata was forced to apologize, and was also duly reminded exactly who works for whom.
The NCNAACP, which still has a federal complaint against Wake County Schools pending with the Civil Rights Division of the US Dept. of Education, and is calling for a return to wake’s former socio-economic diversity policy, hasn’t exactly offered the former military man a shoulder to cry on.
And the school system is being accused of further discrimination against Hispanic children, something Tata vehemently denies.
On top of all of this, Tata still has to figure out how to accommodate thousands of new students with millions less funding from the Legislature and county commissioners. His plans for opening academy schools next fall are hitting roadblocks. And he’s constantly finding himself either publicly directly at odds with at least two of the Democratic members, or smack dab in the middle between a rhetorical shooting war between a Republican board minority that resents they will have little say for the next four years, and a Democratic majority that is increasingly becoming unimpressed with Tata’s inability to learn quickly enough on the job to fix problems, like the Walnut Creek Elementary School overcrowding debacle.
Pressure is increasing also now from the black community, which, led by Calla Wright’s Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American children, is pressing Tata to pay more attention to student achievement, and less to student assignment.
And then there was this emailed criticism of Wake Supt. Tata sent to The Carolinian by a community advocate who asked to remain nameless for the sake of keeping the peace, that left no doubt that his leadership is definitely in question.
“How much longer can the school board allow Tata to bully them and the public?” the emailer rhetorically asked.  “Tata has made our elevated board look incompetent and ineffective to many in the public with his comments and criticisms.  He has challenged them over and over again and they have turned the other cheek.  I hope they will stop allowing this behavior and make sure that Tata speaks for the board but not against the board.”
 “If this is the role Tata desires, then why does he want this job? Is this job just a way to get his credentials so he can move on to a higher position like [former Washington, DC schools Chancellor] Michelle Rhee, or maybe he is getting his stripes to run for office?  Who knows? One thing I do know, he is not helping Wake County students/families, and the business community has lost faith in our board, thanks to them trying to work patiently with Tata.”
  “All in all, what is the advantage of having this superintendent?  Tata clearly has shown us all his tricks.  After a year and a half, what has he accomplished for students?  He surely has played his best cards and how scary is that?  He runs from here to there trying to throw kids and half-baked programs into any space he can find…and has failed miserably.  Tata does not know where to lead us because he is truly out of his element.  This is serious trouble for us all.”
The emailer concluded, “It is time to speak up and demand a qualified and competent superintendent.  A professional who knows his role and has the right motives and knows his trade…educating students, inspiring teachers and leading principals.  No matter what you think of the student assignment plan, can you really believe he can lead our school system to academic higher ground?  Tata does not understand people, politics or education and his inexperience and super-ego is showing!”


            Mixed news for the Triangle jobless rate for April. Unemployment dropped a tenth of a point from March to 7.7 percent, but the Triangle area still lost over 5800 jobs.
Over the past 12 months, the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel hill area created over 18,700 jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Statewide, North Carolina’s jobless rate was 9.4 percent, higher than the nation’s 8.1.

            The former principal of East Wake Academy charter school has been charged by Zebulon police with sexual battery after complaints from two female staff members that he allegedly touched them inappropriately. Brandon Smith, 57, was fired from the school in March, and subsequently sued both the academy, and his two accusers.

            Despite apprehension by some Republicans about the ultimate cost, a bill to compensate victims of North Carolina’s now defunct forced sterilization program passed the House Appropriation Committee Tuesday. The $10 million bill would award $50,000 to each surviving victim tax-free. It has already two House committees, and at press time, was due to be debated on the House floor. Republicans are concerned that the bil could ultimately cost $100 million.

The Underemployed Also Struggle to Survive
By Akeya Dickson
Washington Correspondent
NNPA News Service

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – The woman selling you lottery tickets at 7-11 could be an engineer with multiple degrees. The guy bagging your groceries may have earned a six-figure salary in the not-too-distant past. Welcome to underemployment, the new norm in America.
As of April, there are nearly 8 million adults in this country who are underemployed, defined as those working part-time jobs up to 34 hours for economic reasons; more than 1 million of them are Black, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.  California and Nevada are the states seeing the highest rates of underemployment, while North Dakota has the lowest.
An increasing number of underemployed people, which combines the percentage of workers who are unemployed with the percentage working part-time but wanting full-time work, are turning to charitable organizations for assistance.
“One of the misconceptions is that people who need food assistance are just the homeless,” said Marian Barton Peele, senior director of partner relations for the Capital Area Food Bank. “There is an unemployment problem in our country. But a bigger problem is actually underemployment, where the job you have doesn’t provide for your needs.”
Hunger in America 2010, a comprehensive study of domestic hunger by nonprofit organization Feeding America, conducted 61,000 interviews and surveyed 37,000 feeding agencies. The study found that 36 percent of the households they serve have at least one person working. The organization, which delivers food through its nationwide network of member food banks, has seen a 46 percent increase in the number of people they feed. That translates to 37 million people, or one in eight Americans relying on Feeding America for food and groceries.
“The underemployed have a low salary, don’t have health insurance. That’s why people are working two or three jobs, just to make ends meet at the end of the month,” said Peele, who coordinates food distribution to more than 700 nonprofit partner organizations that provide food for those at risk of hunger in the Washington Metropolitan area.
Shabach Ministries’ Emergency Empowerment Center in Landover, Md., is affiliated with the First Baptist Church of Glenarden and is a partner agency with the Capital Area Food Bank.
Gwen Pope, the center’s manager, said that she is definitely seeing an increase in underemployed people needing assistance from outside agencies to put food on the table and clothes on their families’ backs. First noticing an uptick as far back as seven years ago, she said that she feels like underemployment is actually the new norm for now as companies lay off people or close down altogether.
“These are people who had these jobs for 15 or 20 years. These people were making $80,000 to $100,000,” she said. “They are educated, have graduate degrees, but knew that they had to go out into the marketplace and find jobs. They were living in those $500,000 to $600,000 houses. These people have had to downsize because they couldn’t afford it any longer.”
Last year, the center served more than 12,000 households and more than 35,000 people. In addition to providing groceries that will last a family from three weeks to a month, the center supplies clothing and house ware.
“Because we’re a small place, we’re blessed to still be open as so many other pantries and places are growing,” she said. “We’re still growing because the need is growing. When they come through the doors, they are really stressed. And we try to motivate them.”
Pope dismisses altogether the stereotype that some have that people who ask for assistance are lazy and taking advantage of these services.
“I find that the percentage is just so minute, it’s not worth mentioning,” she explained. “When it comes to the underemployed, these are people who have challenges asking for help. Everyone is treated with dignity and respect. They’re running from job to job, working four hours here and there. It’s affecting their morale, their home life and the amount of time they get to spend with their family.”
Underemployment was up 19 percent in mid-February from 18.7 percent in January, according to a Gallup poll. Administrators of the poll noted, “Regardless of what the government reports, Gallup’s unemployment and underemployment measures show a sharp deterioration in job market conditions since mid-January.”
And while much attention has been paid to recent college graduates being jobless or underemployed, Pope said that it’s a real problem for people who are mid-career professionals with families.
“I’m not talking about people who are just coming out of college looking for jobs. What is disturbing is these are people who are 45 years old and older,” she said. “The jobs that are available are normally the jobs that they’re kids would be taking. They’re in direct competition with them. That’s a real reality check.”
Nonprofit organizations such as Suited for Change specializes in helping low-income women secure professional employment, are adept at dealing with the chronically unemployed and sees about 1,000 women each year through 71 referral agencies in the community.
“I think underemployment has always been an issue with our clients. Most of our residents in the District come from Ward 8, and I think it has the highest unemployment in the city,” said Sharon Flynn, director of the Washington, D.C.-based agency that provides job training and suits for women looking for jobs. “Some of those who are underemployed may have childcare jobs and want to get better-paying jobs with better stability. Some of them will get computer skills or go into the nursing field.”
Underemployment is not expected to end soon.
It’s going to be years before we see us coming out of this,” Pope said. “For some people who thought this was going to be a temporary situation, it’s going to be a permanent situation. Taking these piecemeal jobs, it actually erodes your resume. There’s really no place for you to grow in these part-time jobs.”

Fifty Percent of the Wrongfully Convicted are Black

By Freddie Allen

Washington Correspondent

NNPA News Service

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – On October 24, 1974 an unidentified man robbed and raped  a pregnant Wayne State University student in a bathroom on campus. The student later picked 19 year-old Edward George Carter, out of a photo lineup that contained multiple pictures of the Black teen.
None of the physical evidence  –  fingerprints, semen and seminal fluid – collected from the scene connected Carter to the crime. Still, he was still arrested and charged with sodomy, armed robbery and assault in the Recorder’s Court for the City of Detroit.
Carter’s lawyer was a court-appointed public defender with the ink barely dry on her law school degree. She allowed Carter waive his right to a jury trial, permitted the prosecutor to submit the photo lineup as evidence and raised no objections to the prosecution’s theory about why the semen and seminal fluid didn’t match Carter’s blood type. There is no record that she requested fingerprints from the scene from the police department.
The young attorney, just 18 months into her career, met with Carter just twice, once at  his preliminary hearing and again the day before his trial, when she learned that he had  a 17-year-old girl as an alibi witness. By then it was too late. In 1975, Carter was sentenced to life in prison.
Three decades later, still professing his innocence, Carter reached out to a non-profit group specializing in exonerating wrongfully convicted inmates through the use of DNA. That evidence was lost, but a curious police officer found the fingerprints from the crime scene and ran them through the FBI database. The prints matched another man, a habitual sex offender convicted of two armed rapes committed on the Wayne State campus among other charges. Ironically, another group of young attorneys working with the University of Michigan Clinical Law Program helped to free Carter. A judge vacated his conviction two years ago.
By then, Edward George Carter had served 35 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit.
Carter’s story was just one of the nearly 900 cases chronicled in the National Registry of Exonerations, a database that tracks cases of men and women in the U.S. who were later freed after faulty convictions.
University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross, editor of the registry, said: “In most cases we never learn about them,” Gross said. “The defendants serve their time and try to put it behind them or die in prison. In those cases that we do we find out about years after the fact, sometimes decades after the fact, it’s very hard to go back and figure out what happened.”
The Registry, a collaborative effort between the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University, has been 10 years in the making. Its report this month on 873 exonerations listed as of March 1, 2012.
University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross and editor of the registry said that it’s likely that many more cases of exonerated defendants exist that they just don’t know about.
In 2008, 38 percent of state and federal prisoners were Black compared to 34 percent of Whites. Yet, Blacks accounted for 50 percent of the exonerations while Whites accounted for 38 percent of the false convictions.
“Unfortunately it doesn’t surprise me,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project. “We know that African-Americans are over-represented in the justice system.”
“When it comes to the exonerations, what we’re seeing to a certain extent, is an overlap between issues of race and class,” Mauer said.
According to the National Poverty Center, 27.4 percent of Blacks and 9.9 percent of Whites were poor in 2010.
“Low-income people frequently don’t have good legal representation or access to expert witnesses or investigations on their cases,” Mauer said.
These factors make it more likely that poor people face the chance of being falsely convicted.
According to Gross there is no official record keeping system for exonerations in the U.S. Researchers rely on the known cases to piece together the tragic picture of lifetimes lost and unsolved crimes
Gross found that mistaken eyewitness identifications played a significant role in false convictions, including 80 percent of all sexual assault exonerations. Blacks accounted for 25 percent of the sexual assault convictions compared to 32 percent for Whites. Although interracial rape is rare, sexual assault convictions involving Black defendants and White victims made up 53 percent of all sexual assault cases with mistaken eyewitness identifications.
Gross said that cross-racial identification is an obvious problem that not only threatens the accuracy of eyewitness evidence, but the entire American criminal justice system.
In “They All Look Alike: the Inaccuracy of Cross-racial Identifications” April 2001 article published in the American Journal of Criminal Law, John Pr. Rutledge wrote:
“A cross-racial ID occurs when an eyewitness of one race is asked to identify a particular individual of another race. The last half-century’s empirical study of cross-racial IDs has shown that eyewitnesses have difficulty identifying members of another race, though the degree to which this difficulty affects the accuracy of an eyewitness ID is not certain. Likewise, it is unclear whether all races are affected.
“Known as the ‘own-race’ effect or ‘own-race’ bias, eyewitnesses experience the ‘cross-racial impairment’ when attempting to identify individuals of another race. The ‘own-race effect’ is ‘strongest when white witnesses attempt to recognize black subjects,’ and apparently less influential to black witnesses.”
Gross, editor of the online registry, observed: “African-Americans are a minority so African-Americans deal with Caucasians much more than Caucasians deal with African-Americans. Many White people have very few dealings with African-Americans and don’t learn to distinguish them from each other. African-Americans can’t afford that.”
The most common causes of false convictions were perjury (51 percent), mistaken eyewitness identification, (43 percent), and official misconduct (42 percent). As more cases continue to come to light, Gross said that researchers will better understand the causes of false convictions and learn how to prevent them.
“I hope the vast majority of the time that people are convicted are guilty,” Gross said. “But we make mistakes and we should keep that in mind when we consider cases after the fact when someone is able to present evidence that they may be innocent.”
Mauer agreed, adding that the Registry should help call attention to the need for greater safeguards and oversight in the criminal justice system.
“There are evolving new standards for how we use eyewitness identification, which has been a significant problem,” Mauer said. “There’s a need for more vigorous DNA testing in appropriate cases and ultimately better resources for the court systems and particularly defense attorneys.”


            [WINSTON-SALEM] Rep. Larry Womble’s triumphant return to the NC General Assembly, where he received a standing ovation after recovering from a near-fatal December automobile accident, was short-lived.  Winston-Salem police, after a five-month investigation, charged Womble with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. His car allegedly crossed the centerline, colliding head-on with another vehicle, killing the driver.
Womble has been in recovery since that time. He was taken from the Legislature to the Forsyth County magistrate’s office in a wheel chair to be arraigned. Womble, 70, has a court date July 18.

            [CHAPEL HILL] Trustees of the UNC - Chapel Hill Board expressed serious concerns over allegations of academic fraud in the African and Afro-American Studies there. An internal probe alleged, “major indiscretions that raise serious questions of unprofessional and unethical conduct.” At least 54 classes were not conducted though the instructor got credit for them; grades were allegedly changed and the signatures of faculty members forged. The Orange County DA is officially looking into the matter. Meanwhile, new precautions have been put in place to prevent abuses in the future.

            [RALEIGH] With the Democratic National Convention less than three months away in Charlotte, North Carolina Democrats are bracing themselves for still more drama in the aftermath of the alleged sex scandal that rocked the state Democratic Party, forcing its executive director to resign, and its party chairman to fight off ouster. Published reports say Adriadn Ortega, the young party staffer who alleged that Director Jay Parmley sexually harassed him, is now threatening to sue the state party, and Chairman David Parker, for defamation, and breach of contract. Ortega reached a monetary agreement with Parker to keep quiet, but Parker has since alleged that Ortega had not been truthful.

By Cash Michaels

            TRAPS FOR OBAMA - Pay no attention to the polls or controversies in the 2012 presidential elections right now. Most of that stuff is made up anyway. Major newspapers, which are dying right before our eyes right now, are desperately trying to pump up their circulations.
            Cable TV networks like Fox, MSNBC, and Lord have mercy CNN, which is posting its lowest ratings in 20 years, are even more desperately trying to jump their ratings with every little story they can drain every bit of controversy out of.
            So all of this business between Pres. Obama and former Gov. Romney right now means little. It’s summer time. Most people are not paying attention to politics, no matter how much the media would like them to.
            And that’s why the Obama campaign has to pay close attention to what not to respond to. Romney and the Republicans are setting traps all over for the Democratic president to walk into, and if he does, Obama will inadvertently give his adversaries ammunition to keep the controversies alive until the fall, when summertime people will then be paying attention.
            That’s the only way President Obama can lose this re-election - if he gives the GOP the tools they need to dismember his campaign, and legacy.
            Mind you, even if the president didn’t give his enemies anything, they would make it up anyway.
            That’s the reason why these GOP folks are still trying to bring the fiery Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s former pastor, back onto the scene. They so desperately want to lure the president towards the one flame he can’t handle….race.
            Pres. Obama has tried awfully hard to stay away from the topic of race, primarily because, thanks to the Tea Party uprising, there is no way it can be discussed sensibly in today’s atmosphere. First sensible word he says about it, he gets attacked.
            There are so many right-wing haters out there who are so totally invested in turning the history of racism in this nation inside-out. They want to turn the notion of “equal rights” on its ear, suggesting that black people, like Pres. Obama, don’t represent “real Americans.”
            Just recently, there was a Republican Colorado congressman who was recorded telling his constituents that Pres. Obama was not a “real American in his heart.”
            The list of potent cuss words I have for that man is thankfully too long for me to exhibit on this page.
            And of course, that congressman, once he was outed, took the coward’s way out, saying in a statement that he really didn’t mean what he was recorded saying.
            Now multiply that idiot by the countless number of GOP, and even some Democratic politicians across the country, who want the nation’s first black president out of office so bad they can taste it.
            You get the picture. This president has to battle foolishness on all fronts, not only because of his policies, which are fair game in this and any presidential election, but his race as well.
            Take, for example, what Romney will NOT do.
            Despite the fact that millionaire loudmouth Donald Trump is still harping on this crazy “Barack Obama wasn’t born here” junk - which has long since been embarrassing for anyone who dares to broach the topic - Romney will not denounce the Donald. Why? Because even though Romney knows that Trump is the business side of a big donkey with cavity problems, he realizes that there are enough voters in the nation that hate Obama so much, they subscribe to that nonsense.
            And Romney has made no secret that crazy or not, he wants their vote.
            You know, I don't agree with all the people who support me and my guess is they don't all agree with everything I believe in. But I need to get 50.1 percent or more and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people,” the GOP nominee is quoted a telling the press earlier this week.
            Now suppose Barack Obama decided not to repudiate his beloved pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, back in 2008 when he first ran for the presidency. Incendiary videos of Rev. Wright preaching were all over the TV and internet; pundits were going crazy blasting the man, and asking how Obama could have spent 20 years in his church. Former NC Gov. Jim Hunt told me exclusively for my film, “Obama in NC: The Path to History” that he personally told the Obama campaign to do something about Wright, or forget winning the presidency.
            Obama reluctantly repudiated the man who was like a father to him.
            Donald Trump, on the otherhand, is nowhere near as close to Mitt Romney personally or otherwise. But he admittedly won’t lift a finger to criticize the man for continuing his public campaign to personally diminish the president of the United States.
            So we see clear evidence that Romney will say and do whatever it takes to not only defeat this president, but destroy him.
            That means they’re more than willing to start trouble for him now, hoping that Obama will stay entangled in it until the fall, when the real fireworks begin.
            Don’t fall into the trap, Mr. President. You are a lot smarter than these people, and certainly a lot more principled.
            NCLBC FOUNDATION - The North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (NCLBCF) will hold its annual Education Scholarship Event on June 15, 2012 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The event focuses on topics that impact the citizens of North Carolina and provides scholarships to students attending the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The event is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. with two “Critical Issues” sessions and will end with the annual signature fundraising event, the NCLBCF Education Scholarship Dinner, where United States Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, from Ohio’s 11th District, will serve as keynote speaker. The dinner is scheduled at 7 p.m.
            Among the issues that will be covered during the event are the impact of budget cuts on education, and voter ID laws and their effect on minority participation. The group also will discuss health care reform, and the importance of an informed electorate.
            Session A, titled “The Impact of Budget Cuts on Education,” will be moderated by: Senator Gladys Robinson – Senate District 28 – Guilford County. Panel members and presenters include: Representative Rick Glaizer – House District 45 Cumberland County, and Representative Earline Parmon – House District 72 – Forsyth County
            Session B, titled “Protecting One’s Right to Vote,” will be moderated by: Senator Edward Jones – Senate District 4 – Bertie, Chowan, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, Perquimans Counties. Panel Members. Presenters include Representative Larry Hall – House District 29 – Durham County and Professor Irving L. Joyner, North Carolina Central University School of Law.
            The NCLBCF has provided support to higher education in North Carolina for more than 25 years by awarding need based scholarships to students attending one of the 10 participating Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina. “We must work together to make sure a college education is possible for all students,” says Rep. Alma Adams, chair of the NCLBF. “Everyone benefits from this important investment in education.
            Go to www.nclbcf.org, or call 919-833-6394 for more information.
            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.myWAUG.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.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Cash Stuff for May 24, 2012


            By unanimous vote, the national NAACP Board passed a resolution during its Florida retreat last weekend supporting the petition of pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten.
            Rev. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP and a national NAACP Board member, and veteran civil rights attorney Al McSurely, crafted the resolution language. Barber, who is also chair of the national NAACP’s Political Action Committee, then asked NAACP Chairwoman Roslyn Brock to have the meeting agenda amended to allow for the proposed resolution to be heard, which it was without objection.
Guilford County, NC Commissioner Carolyn Coleman, another member of the national NAACP Board and Executive Committee member, introduced the motion, and after strong lobbying by both Ms. Coleman and Rev. Barber, it passed unanimously.
“What this means is not only do we have a public endorsement of the [national] NAACP,” says Rev. Barber, “but passage of a board resolution makes this an NAACP policy throughout the entire association, and the full weight and structure [of the NAACP] is available to support and promote the call for a pardon [of innocence],”
“This is why Ms. Coleman and I felt it necessary to insist and ensure that this resolution passed.”
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., leader of the Wilmington Ten, and past president of the national NAACP, upon hearing the news of the resolution, thanked Rev. Barber, adding, “May God continue to bless the NAACP.”
The draft resolution to the NAACP Board supporting the petition for  pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten reads:

WHEREAS in September 1972 ten young North Carolinians were tried and convicted of major felonies in New Hanover County;
AND WHEREAS after the dust settled, it turned out their main crime was trying to obey the law, namely the requirements of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court to dismantle the separate and unequal school systems of New Hanover County;
AND WHEREAS the young people were Benjamin Chavis, Wayne Moore, Marvin Patrick, Connie Tindall, James McKoy, Willie  Vereen, Reginald Epps,  Anne Shepard-Turner, William “Joe” Wright, and Jerry Jacobs, and were popularly called “The Wilmington Ten”;
AND WHEREAS in 1980, after the young people had spent many years in prison, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled they had been victims of outrageous acts of prosecutorial misconduct, Chavez v. State of North Carolina, 637 F.2d 213, using language all too familiar to those of us who believe in racial justice in North Carolina, saying: “The prosecution's failure to produce . . . to defense counsel the ‘amended’ statement and the record of the hospitalization of the state's key witness and the restrictions upon cross-examination of the key witness and another about favorable treatment which might have induced favorable testimony require us to overturn the convictions” ;
AND WHEREAS such gross prosecutorial misconduct is too often associated with the trials of poor minorities and civil rights activists;
AND WHEREAS each time this linkage is validated by higher courts, it widens the breach in our human family, and aggravates the hurts of past indignities;
AND WHEREAS our constitution does not empower the courts to repair and heal such breaches and wounds, but rather places such acts of human compassion in the Governor's hands;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT REOLVED that the National NAACP will do all in its power to help its North Carolina Conference of NAACP Branches and its broad Historic Thousands on Jones Street Coalition in convincing the Hon. Governor Beverly Perdue to grant a full pardon to the Wilmington Ten, and become, as the Prophet Isaiah would say, “a repairer of the breach.”

           wilmjourn-ed  A LETTER TO GOV. BEVERLY PERDUE

            Dear Gov. Perdue:
            By now you know about the petition for ten individual pardons of innocence submitted to your office last week on behalf of the Wilmington Ten.
            By now, you also know about the Ten - nine African-American males and one white female social worker, who forty years ago in 1972, were all falsely arrested, and charged with conspiracy to commit murder and arson in connection with the 1971 firebombing of Mike’s Grocery. 
All ten were falsely tried, convicted and sentenced to a total 282 years in prison.
Years later while the Ten were still in prison, the witnesses state prosecutors used to convict them, began to recant their testimony.
Indeed, the whole case begins to fall apart, thanks to a CBS News “60 Minutes” report.
And finally, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturns all of the convictions in the case, citing prosecutorial misconduct, among other things.
Given that the state had absolutely no evidence beyond three witnesses who admitted that they were bought off by prosecutors, it becomes very clear that the Wilmington Ten were never guilty of the dastardly crimes they were accused of.
But the state of North Carolina refused to clear their names.
The responsibility for considering that recourse now is in your hands.
And as you read through the legal materials, and letters of support from political, legal and civic notables, we’d like for you to realize something.
Not only are three of the Wilmington Ten dead, but the surviving seven have had their lives dramatically altered from what their once youthful selves had originally planned to be.
           There is no question that the false prosecution of the Wilmington Ten dramatically impacted their lives, as well as those of their families and loved ones.
            Most of the defendants were young, some barely in their twenties, when they were convicted in 1972 of crimes they didn’t commit.
Some were still in high school, and living with their parents.
At least one, Anne Shepard, was raising three young children.
             Most of them had dreams of bright, hope-filled futures. Some wanted to practice law. Some wanted to play professional sports.
And some were already musicians, looking for their first really big break.
Their only collective “crime,” they each individually say, was their willingness to openly, but peacefully, challenge the New Hanover County Public School System in the early 1970s when it declined to provide an equal, quality education to black students.
Because of their individual courage, and commitment to equality, the Wilmington Ten suffered false prosecution, years of imprisonment and great personal hardships for themselves and their families. The collective impact for all of them has extended decades beyond their release from prison, and well after a federal appellate court overturned their convictions.
Today, forty years hence their false prosecutions, three of the Wilmington Ten - Jerry Jacobs, William Joseph Wright and Anne Shepard - have died, their dreams unfulfilled, according to their bereaved families.
One member, Reginald Epps, has worked so hard to protect his privacy and rebuild his life, that he rarely speaks of his Wilmington Ten experience anymore.
Another member, Rev. Benjamin Chavis, the leader of the group, has evolved into one of the most accomplished civil rights leaders of our time, but he’s paid a dear personal price to do so, having almost lost his life in prison.
As has Wayne Moore, who had to move from Wilmington after his release from prison, leaving family and friends behind, because he was denied the opportunity to work and live in his hometown due to his well-known association.
Willie Earl Vereen, Connie Tindall, James McKoy and Marvin Patrick, all now elderly men with health challenges, all feel robbed of the promise they once had to be productive citizens forty years ago. They have lost faith in government, and angrily challenge North Carolina to render to them long overdue justice - both tangibly and symbolically - to remove the clouds they say still follow their names, and reputations.
In all, the lives of the Wilmington Ten have been marked by struggle, hardship and indignities they otherwise would not have experienced if the state of North Carolina, forty years ago, had not sought to punish them for their political activism, and willingness to demand social change.
While the past cannot be changed, amends can be made today for what was unjustly done to ten innocent American citizens, and North Carolinians.


            Wake Supt. Tony Tata says the school system needs almost $9 million more from county commissioners in order to make ends meet. But County Manager David Cooke has allotted less than half that much - $3.9 million - to add to the $314 million the county has been giving Wake Public Schools, saying revenues aren’t where they need to be to give more. Tata says it’s a “step in the right direction,” but he still needs the county commission board to reconsider. Commissioners approve their budget June 18.

            Shaw University, the first historically black university in the South, will host the second annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities—General Education Alliance (HBCU-GEA) Conference on Tuesday, May 29 through Thursday, May 31, 2012. The conference, designed to discuss strategies, models and plans of action for educating 21st century African-American students, will feature a roundtable discussion with Dr. Martha J. Kanter, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and Dr. Susan Cooper Loomis, Assistant Director of Psychometrics for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) - the Nation’s Report Card.

            A white Zebulon husband and wife, scheduled to go to court to face ethnic intimidation charges for allegedly harassing their black neighbors, were arrested again last Friday, and charged this time with intimidating those same black neighbors with video cameras. The neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Wilbert O’Neal, are now considered witnesses after the March 28th arrest of Michael Stanley Mazur and his wife, Anne for allegedly racially intimidating them. Because the O’Neals caught the Mazurs in the act on video, thus leading to their arrest, the Mazurs, in an act of alleged intimidation, set up video cameras pointed at the O’Neals’ property. The neighbors have been fighting for two years.


            [DURHAM] While the national NAACP does not judge same-sex marriage “from a personal, religious or moral perspective,” says NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, “What we do endorse is same-sex marriage equality, as protected by the 14th Amendment. We endorse the right under the Constitution for citizens of this country to have equal protection in the lifestyle they choose.”  The national NAACP Board, during its retreat in Florida last weekend, passed a resolution supporting “marriage equality” for same-sex couples. The move comes on the heels of President Obama announcing that he favors same-sex marriage for couples.

            [RALEIGH] Despite a Republican majority, a state House panel Tuesday approved $10 million in compensation for victims of North Carolina’s infamous forced sterilization program from the 1930’s through 1970’s. At press time, the bill still needed to be passed by the GOP majority House and state Senate before it becomes law. If passed, victims will get a tax-free lump sum of $50,000. Over 7500 victims - many poor whites and blacks, mostly female, were forcibly sterilized by the state on the recommendations of county health departments.

            [DURHAM] The Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee, the panel which makes recommendations on who should qualify to appear on a United States postal stamp, is reportedly considering recommending the late Duke University historian Dr. John Hope Franklin. Congressman Brad Miller (D-13-NC) has written the committee, saying in part, ““Dr. Franklin was an inspiration. He taught at leading institutions in the U.S. and abroad. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. Dr. Franklin's legacy will endure for generations.''

by Cash Michaels

            DONNA SUMMER -I must admit, I was surprised to see the reaction to news about the death of the “Queen of Disco,” Donna Summer.
            I was surprised not because of anything wrong with her. There is no question that Summer was, indeed, a cultural icon of the late 70’s, early 80’s, with such famous disco hits like “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls,” Love to Love You, Baby,” and one of my all-time favorites, “1979’s “Heaven Knows (a song whose orchestration is as perfect as it gets).
            I was surprised because Summer had pretty much fallen off the map for the last 20 years or so. She did make an appearance on “American Idol” back in 2008, but essentially, Donna Summer disappeared from public view.
            Up in age in her sixties, Summer, who used to fill stadiums the world over, had been reduced to playing small clubs and shows, like many of the “old” artists do just to pay the bills.
            Media apparently didn’t pay much attention to Ms. Summer when she was out, struggling to still be remembered, still be relevant.
            Then, on May 17th, 2012, when Summer dies from cancer at 63, all of a sudden she was Madonna before Madonna, a musical genius who ushered in a dance craze - disco - that changed the course of musical history.
            I’m not denying any of that (even though Summer was not the only one to shape and mold the disco era, something I’m sure Ms. Gloria Gaynor - singer of “I Will Survive” - would tell you in a heartbeat.
            I’m just wondering why then media waits until Summer is gone to give her her flowers.
            Look at Stevie Wonder. There is no question he is the ninth wonder of the world, and he’s always treated royally. And as well he should be, given Stevie’s plethora of superhits spanning at least 50 years.
            Stevie is singing on somebody’s TV show at least four times a year, if not more. So he is never forgotten.
            But artists like Donna Summer don’t get that respect until they’re dead.
            She should have known how much she was loved long before she died.
            Thus, all of the instant clamor makes all of us look like hypocrites.
            Donna, rest in peace, honey. You deserved better from all of us!
 NBA PLAYOFFS - I don’t know about you, but I am thoroughly enjoying this NBA playoff season.
Besides the fact that the world “chumpian” Dallas Mavericks were dispatched early in the playoffs by the Oklahoma Thunder (good), and then the Thunder dropped Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers like a bad habit (still good), some of the younger teams like OKC, Indiana and Philly are giving the old timers like the Lakers, Celtics and the Miami Heat fits.
Last Sunday’s game between Miami and Indiana was classic, with the Pacers looking to take a demoralizing 3-1 series lead over a Heat team that looked that it had given up. But LeBron James finds a way to share the joy with teammate Dwyane Wade, they combine for 70 points, and the next thing you know, the Pacers lose, not knowing what hit them.
The Thunder will have to be in tip-top shape to face the San Antonio Spurs, which has a tremendous post-season record. And the Heat/Pacers best of three series is as exciting as it gets.
Bottomline is this is some of the most exciting NBA basketball in years, and I’m lovin’ it.
I hope you are too.
WHITNEY’S LAST SONG - The film, “Sparkle,” won’t be released until this August, but a single from the musical is scheduled to drop on June 5th.
And it’s no coincidence that this first single from “Sparkle” is also the last musical recording that late songstress Whitney Houston ever made.
The song is called, “Celebrate,” and it’s a duet with Houston’s costar in the movie, Justin Sparks.
Whitney died in February at age 48. She was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel bathroom during Grammy Awards weekend. A coroner’s report said Houston drowned in the bathtub. She had traces of cocaine in her bloodstream.
SUPPORT THE W-10 PARDON PROJECT - It has been an exhilarating week for those of us working on the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project since the press conference at the State Capitol on May 17.
For the record, I am the coordinator for the project, which is sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association of Washington, D.C..
Support is building, and more people are signing on, asking Gov. Beverly Perdue to declare all ten of the Wilmington Ten actually innocent of the charges they were falsely convicted of forty years ago.
One of the things we’re working on is our online presence. The first is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheWilmingtonTenPardonOfInnocenceProject. There you get history, pictures, comments and links connecting you further to the Wilmington Ten case.
Then there is the online petition that was setup by Susie Kenney Edwards of Cary for the cause. It allows you to add your name to others, urging Gov. Beverly Perdue to “pardon the Wilmington Ten” - https://www.change.org/petitions/nc-governor-bev-perdue-pardon-the-wilmington-10.
Visit these sites, join the team, and let’s all stand for justice. Forty years is too long for injustice to reign.
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.myWAUG.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.

FIVE OF THE WILMINGTON TEN - Willie Earl Vereen; Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr.; James McKoy; Marvin Patrick and Connie Tindall - five of the The Wilmington Ten, listen during their May 17th press conference concerning their petition to Gov. Perdue for pardons of innocence {Marjorie Fields Harris Photo] 

WILMINGTON TEN PARDON ATTORNEYS - As Wilmington Ten Pardon of Innocence  Project attorney irving Joyner listens, Wilmington Ten defense attorney James Ferguson forcefully tells reporters why declarations of innocence from Gov. Perdue are warranted.[Marjorie Fields Harris photo]

By Cash Michaels
1135 words

            After only a week, significant local and national support to secure pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten is already coming in.
But organizers for the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s  “Wilmington Ten Pardon of Innocence Project” say ultimately more support, from every quarter, will be needed.
Thus far, at least two members of Congress; the heads of both the national and state NAACP; a prominent UNC-Chapel Hill law professor, and the head of the United Church of Christ have joined a growing number of supporters on Facebook, and an online national petition at Change.org, in calling on NC Gov. Beverly Perdue to grant pardons of innocence to the ten civil rights activists falsely convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and arson four decades ago.
In his letter of support to Gov. Perdue, NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield [D-NC-1], a former NC Associate Supreme Court justice, wrote, “As a former member of the North Carolina judiciary, and now a member of the United State House of Representatives, I have worked my entire adult life to bring equality and racial justice to my community, state and country. It is never too late to see justice fully achieved.”
That sentiment was echoed by the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ (UCC).
“Any injustice of this magnitude is worth revisiting and rectifying, no matter how long ago it occurred,” Rev. Black said in a statement last week. “This is an opportunity for the governor of the state of North Carolina to undo the wrong done to these individuals and their families.”
 Rev. Black continued, “The United Church of Christ stood with the Wilmington Ten in their quest for justice then, and we stand with the Wilmington Ten now as they pursue an official pardon from the governor.”
Perdue’s press office indicated that the governor will give the pardon request due consideration.
Led by then UCC civil rights leader Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. to protest racial discrimination in the public school system in Wilmington, the ten - mostly teenagers at the time - were falsely charged forty years ago for the 1971 firebombing of a Wilmington, NC white-owned grocery store, and subsequent sniper fire at firefighters, during the height of racial tension there.
The ten were collectively tried, convicted and sentenced to 282 years in prison, with Chavis drawing 34 years.
In 1980, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, based on evidence of prosecutorial misconduct; the withholding of exculpatory evidence; and all three of the state’s witnesses recanting their testimonies and confessing that they were bribed by state prosecutors, overturned those convictions.
But the state of North Carolina, which had released the ten earlier from prison, refused to pardon them. As a result, a legal cloud has remained for the past 32 years.
On May 17th, attorneys for the seven survivors, and the families of the three deceased Wilmington Ten members, filed a petition for individual pardons of innocence with the NC Governor’s Office of Executive Clemency for Chavis; Connie Tindall; Willie Earl Vereen; Marvin Patrick; Anne Shepard Turner (deceased); William “Joe” Wright (deceased); Wayne Moore; Reginald Epps; Jerry Jacobs (deceased) and James McKoy.
“Our petition is for a declaration of actual innocence [from] the governor,” attorney Irving Joyner, pardon project co-chair, told reporters. “Our claim for actual innocence is based on the court record; based on judicial determinations that are already made…”
Attorney James Ferguson, the lead defense lawyer for the Wilmington Ten in 1972, said that since then they, “…have labored under an unjust conviction, and for forty years they have done it with dignity, and without bitterness.”
NNPA Chairman Cloves Campbell, Jr., publisher of the Arizona Informant, was present at the press conference, as were NNPA Board members and publishers Dorothy Leavell of the Chicago Crusader; John B. Smith of the Atlanta Inquirer; and Mary Alice Thatch, publisher of the Wilmington Journal, which strongly advocated for the ten when they were first convicted in 1972.
Campbell said the NNPA was sponsoring the pardon project because the story of the Wilmington Ten “must be told,” so that young people in the black community can learn from it, and better themselves.
Dr. Benjamin Chavis, who is also an NNPA columnist, told reporters and supporters, “The case of the Wilmington Ten is about justice for all people.”
            “Forty years ago, we stood up for what, in the presence of God, was right,” Chavis said, adding, “and in the presence of our community.”
It is because of that commitment to the community over forty years ago that supporters across the country are being encouraged to join the national petition drive
to ask Gov. Perdue to grant the pardons of innocence to the Wilmington Ten this year before she leaves office in January.
A Cary, North Carolina woman who saw news coverage of the pardon story, started a national online petition at Change.Org titled, “NC Governor Bev Perdue: Pardon the Wilmington Ten” at https://www.change.org/petitions/nc-governor-bev-perdue-pardon-the-wilmington-10.
At press time she had collected over fifty signatures in one day, and expects more as the story gets more national play.
On the popular social media site Facebook, in just two days, over one hundred people “liked” the Wilmington Ten Pardon of Innocence Project site, and actively urged others to join them.
Organizers are directing those who want to learn more about the Wilmington Ten online to go to “Triumphant Warriors” at http://triumphantwarriors.ning.com/, which is hosted by Wilmington Ten member Wayne Moore.
There are also plans for a dedicated NNPA-sponsored website that will not only display historical videos, stills and writings about the Wilmington Ten, but updates and stories about the current pardon effort.
There are also plans to form a local advisory committee in Wilmington, and a national committee, with the expressed task of attracting more broad-based support from across the state and nation.
Democratic Congressman Brad Miller of North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, urged Gov. Perdue in his letter of pardon support, “Although the years of incarceration can’t be reclaimed, North Carolina can still address [this] injustice with a pardon to clear the factual record, and concede serious state wrongdoing.”
             Fourth District Congressman David Price, also a Democrat, told Gov. Perdue in his letter, "Although the convictions were overturned, I don't believe justice has yet been served in this case. The Wilmington Ten were wrongly accused and spent many years of their lives imprisoned for crimes they did not commit."
"They were innocent," Rep. Price concluded, "and they deserve to be pardoned."
Professor Gene Nichol, of the University of North Carolina School of Law, wrote Gov. Perdue, “It is imperative that the state of North Carolina act to remove constitutional injuries inflicted in so invidious a manner.”
And North Carolina NAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, who presented a resolution to the national NAACP Board last weekend in Miami, Fla. in support of the Wilmington Ten, told Gov. Perdue in his letter, “Our [legal] system does not empower our courts to repair and heal such breaches and wounds [of false convictions]. Our Constitution, instead, places such acts of human compassion in your hands.”
Groups Mobilizing to Rebuff Assault on Voters’ Rights
By Akeya Dickson
Washington Correspondent
NNPA News Service

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – As many as 5 million people could be denied access to right to vote in the November presidential election because of a series of regressive actions, including insisting on photo identification at the polls, reducing time allotted for early voting and eliminating Sunday voter registration drives popular among Black churches.
In this year alone, according to the Brennan Center at the New York University School of Law, a non-partisan public policy and law institute, more than 34 states that have introduced new restrictions on voting. At least 12 states have introduced bills that would require proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to register or vote. At least 13 states have introduced legislation to terminate Election Day and same-day voter registration and two states – Florida and Iowa – have reversed prior executive orders making it easier for ex-felons to vote.
In addition to complaining about measures they say are aimed at suppressing the Black vote, many civil rights organizations and community groups have been mobilizing to remove potential roadblocks.
“This is one of the most egregious elections we’ve had since Barack and since Florida in 2000,” said Melanie Campbell, president and chief executive officer of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “There is a lot of work to be done with a shortage of funding, but we’re out here working hard to do the work. We’re working closer in coalition to maximize results.”
Campbell rattled off a list of organizations working as a coalition, including the NAACP, the National Urban League, the Advancement Project, the League of Young Voters, the Hip Hop Caucus, People for the American Way and the National Council of Negro Women.
“We’re all working hard to cross-pollinate and partner as much as possible. We don’t want to talk on November 6 after the election about what we should have done,” she said. “The key is early information, early action. Election Protection is starting their 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline earlier. You can call now if you’re having issues, you can get a lawyer now. It’s better than waiting until October.”
The NAACP recently announced its “This is My Vote” campaign and accompanying Web site at Clark-Atlanta University in Georgia to combat the attack on voting. The nation’s oldest civil rights group is wedding 21st century technology tools with old-fashioned grassroots organizing. People can obtain registration forms at www.thisismyvote.org. or text the word “VOTE” to 62227 (letters that spell NAACP), to stay abreast of the different rules and laws for voting in their state. Voters can also call 1-866-MYVOTE1.
The campaign has more than 500,000 active members and “e-activists” in the 50-state nonpartisan campaign, according to Marvin Randolph, the NAACP’s senior vice president for campaigns.
“I think technology is critical,” he explained. “Clearly, the way that people communicate has fundamentally changed. We have to communicate with people in the way that they spend their time. If they are tethered to their smart phones or to their computers, that’s where we need to be.”
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is working to provide much-needed guidance to voters who will be required to produce a photo ID. Its report, titled, “Got ID? Helping Americans Get Voter Identification,” highlights successful voter empowerment efforts in Wisconsin, Tennessee and Colorado
The report suggests crosschecking Department of Motor Vehicles records against current voter registration rolls to notify individuals about the new voter ID requirements early enough to give them an opportunity to obtain new forms of identification.
“The Wisconsin Voices made an open records request with the DMV in Milwaukee and got access to 2.1 million records of people with driver’s licenses that was cross-referenced with VAN, a voter contact and management system,” according to the report. “The group matched 1.3 million records to help identify people who might need government-issued photo IDs.”
Requiring a photo ID is not as race-neutral as many people believe. According to the Brennan Center, 25 percent of African American voters do not have a valid government-issued photo ID, compared with 8 percent of Whites.
“One in four African Americans does not have a driver’s license or any of the restrictive IDs,” Tanya Clay House, public policy director for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said during a panel discussion at last month’s National Action Network Conference, held in Washington, D.C. “Your grandmother living in a nursing home may not have a driver’s license, may not have a utility bill, may not have a passport.”
She also explained, “In Texas, you have a legislature that passed laws that say you can use your gun ID to register to vote, but you can’t use your student ID.”
Voters are required to not only present a driver’s license or state-issued ID, but they can also be required to present proof of residence in Kansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Georgia and Indiana.
Fortunately, voters can obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate online, in the mail or in person. But because processing a birth certificate request can take as long as seven months, as was a case cited by the Colorado Collaborative ID Project, it is imperative that the process is initiated early.
Melanie Campbell urges  voters to verify that their voter registration record and organize around social media.
The Lawyers Committee report also recommended matching student enrollment lists with voter rolls and then reaching out to students with limited or no past voter participation. It also suggested contacting high school seniors who may turn 18 before the November election.
Organizations can also arrange free or reduced transit to DMV offices that can be far away. For example, some voters in Texas have to travel up to 176 miles roundtrip to get to an office to obtain identification, according to the report.
City officials can follow the lead of the Jackson Transit Authority in Tennessee, which has offered free bus rides to the Department of Motor Vehicles to people needing to get a voter ID. The hourly rides will be available June 25-29, July 2-3 and 5-6, Aug 24 and August 27-31. Organizations may be able to make similar arrangements in their local communities.
In many Black communities, the church remains a rallying point for political empowerment.
“Historically if the church never got involved, there would be no Voting Rights Act of 1964. There would be no Brown vs. Board of Education,” Rev. Otis T. Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. “We’re not talking about specific candidates. I think that anyone who is of voting age, you need to be registered.”

LDF Successfully Defends the Heart of the Voting Rights Act
Special to the NNPA from The Defenders Online

(New York, NY)  For the second time in the past year, a federal court in Washington, D.C. upheld the constitutionality of the heart of the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.

The case, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, involved a challenge to the Section 5 “preclearance” provision of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states and jurisdictions with some of the worst histories of voting discrimination, such as Alabama, to have all voting changes reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice or D.C. District Court to ensure they are free from discrimination.
In rejecting this challenge, Judge Tatel, writing for the majority, ruled that Congress appropriately extended the protections of the preclearance requirement in 2006 for 25 more years:  “After thoroughly scrutinizing the record and given that overt racial discrimination persists in covered jurisdictions notwithstanding decades of section 5 preclearance, we, like the district court, are satisfied that Congress’s judgment deserves judicial deference.”
“Today’s ruling is the latest in an unbroken line of cases upholding the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act’s most effective protection,” said Debo P. Adegbile, LDF Interim President and Director-Counsel.  “Some have questioned whether the protection is still needed.  The recent efforts to suppress minority voters make it crystal clear that we still need this core voter protection.  Section 5 promotes political inclusion against persisting attempts to practice exclusion.”
In the face of substantial evidence showing continued efforts to discriminate against minority voters, Section 5 was reauthorized by a bi-partisan majority of Congress in 2006.  More recently, in a 2009 case argued by LDF, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, the Supreme Court issued an 8-to-1 ruling that left Section 5’s important protections intact.
LDF intervened in the Shelby County case to defend Section 5 on behalf of several African American community leaders and voters in Shelby County, including Councilman Ernest Montgomery.  In 2006, the City of Calera, which lies within Shelby County, enacted a discriminatory redistricting plan without complying with Section 5, leading to the loss of the city’s sole African-American councilman, Ernest Montgomery.  Because of Section 5, however, Calera was required to draw a nondiscriminatory redistricting plan and conduct another election in which Mr. Montgomery regained his seat.
“Section 5’s critical role as our democracy’s discrimination check point is as vital as ever,” said Ryan Haygood, Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group.  “Right now, even as it is under attack, the Voting Rights Act is preventing discriminatory redistricting schemes like the one at issue in this case, and voting measures strategically launched in advance of the 2012 elections from being implemented.  Without Section 5, there would be more discrimination.”



Queen of Disco Donna Summer Dies
by Bobbi Booker
Special to the NNPA from the Philadelphia Tribune

Disco legend Donna Summer died Thursday morning May 17 in Naples, Fla., at age 63 after a battle with cancer, said her publicist Brian Edwards. Her family released a statement saying they “are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.” The five-time Grammy-winning singer had numerous hits in both the 1970s and 1980s, including “Last Dance,” “She Works Hard for the Money” and “Bad Girls.”
“The City of Philadelphia and the music world are deeply saddened by the passing of an incredibly talented musical artist, Donna Summer,” said Mayor Michael Nutter, who was once known as club DJ “Mix Master Mike.” “For people in my generation and many others, she was one of the greatest vocalists of the second half of the 20th century. An innovator of note, she had a wide range of musical capabilities. She was one of the leaders of the disco wave in America and Europe, and she broke new musical ground with songs like ‘Love to Love You Baby,’ ‘Bad Girls,’ ‘MacArthur Park Suite’ and ‘Hot Stuff.’”
Summer was the first artist to have three double albums reach No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart: “Live and More,” “Bad Girls,” “On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II.” She became a cultural icon, not only as one of the defining voices of the era, but also as an influence on future pop divas from Madonna to BeyoncĂ©.
Nutter recalled playing “the Queen of Disco” during her heyday while deejaying at the Impulse Disco at Broad Street and Germantown Avenue. “For a young guy working in a night club at the high point of disco, and for everyone who came together in those days of joyful music and dance, she represented a singular musical style and a towering artistry. We all carry fond memories of Donna Summer. Whether performing alone or in duets with talents like Barbara Streisand, Donna Summer was one of the very best. I loved her music, her beautiful voice, and her grand musical talent.”
Summer reportedly did not embrace the “Disco Queen” title and later became a born-again Christian, but many remembered her best for her early years, starting with the sinful “Love to Love You Baby.” Released in 1975, a breakthrough hit for Summer and for disco, it was a legend of studio ecstasy and the genre’s ultimate sexual anthem. She simulated climax so many times that the BBC kept count: 23, in 17 minutes.
“All other erotic tunes, like ‘Jungle Fever’ and Pillow Talk,’ were mere foreplay to ‘Love To Love You, Baby.’ In the first place, it took up the whole album side and it set the scene for the 12-inch single,” noted author and cultural critic Richard Torres.
What started as a scandal became a classic. The song was later sampled by LL Cool J, Timbaland, and BeyoncĂ©, who interpolated the hit for her jam “Naughty Girl.” It was also Summer’s U.S. chart debut and the first of her 19 No. 1 dance hits between 1975 and 2008 — second only to Madonna.
“The funny thing about that track is that it really does warrant that length,” explained Torres. “There is no filler on that track. It’s hypnotic. ‘Love To Love You, Baby’ is the American ‘Ravel’s Bolero’ — it’s the beginning and middle, and,” Torres reflects with a chuckle, “it gave a man something to shoot for.”
Musically, Summer began to change in 1979 with “Hot Stuff,” which had a tough, rock ‘n’ roll beat. Her diverse sound helped her earn Grammy Awards in the dance, rock, R&B and inspirational categories.
“She’s the most underrated great singer of the last 35 years,” noted Torres. “People would have thought of her as a — and this is pun intended — one-trick-pony based on the orgasmic ‘Love to Love You, Baby.’ But even in that song she showed tremendous range. What people forget is that she also received a lot of scorn, because there was this racist movement to anti-disco, and because she was the ‘Queen of Disco,’ her vocal and artistic contributions were diminished in the mainstream press. This is a woman, who by the way, more than held her own in a duet with Barbara Streisand on ‘Enough Is Enough/No More Tears.’ What she had was this unfailing rhythmic ability — and disco was all about could you ride the rhythm — she wasn’t a shouter, a la Lolita Holloway, but she was a chanteuse. She created a mood with every song.”
Summer released her last album, “Crayons,” in 2008. It was her first full studio album in 17 years. She also performed on “American Idol” that year with its top female contestants. Summer is survived by her husband, Bruce Sudano, and three daughters, Brooklyn, Mimi and Amanda.