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 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” -
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 And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” ( 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, 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
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, 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 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 Beyoncé.
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 Beyoncé, 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.

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