Tuesday, June 26, 2012



First, on behalf of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the national Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project, the Project’s Local Advisory Committee, and the New Hanover County NAACP, we want to say “Thank you so much,” community, for making Tuesday’s first Faith Community Rally at St. Stephen’s A.M.E. Church, supporting pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten, such a success.
The special event was well attended, well coordinated by the local groups, and certainly made it very clear to all of North Carolina, if not the world, that we, here, in Wilmington, even after forty years of injustice, still stand strong with the Wilmington Ten.
The keynote speaker for the occasion was the extraordinary Rev. Dr. William Barber Jr., president of the NC NAACP.
Many came to St. Stephen’s Tuesday evening not only to support the Wilmington Teen, but to see this fiery, defiant leader of the state NAACP they have always heard much about, but had never seen in action, in person.
If those folks were bowling pins, Rev. Barber knocked them all down for sure.
Rev. Barber said that God has been with the Wilmington Ten throughout, seeing them through the fire, just like He did with biblical heroes Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who walked through the fiery furnace unharmed because the Lord was with them too.
Forty years was long enough for the state of North Carolina to correct its sinful wrong in falsely convicting the Wilmington Ten, Rev. Barber proclaimed, and if anyone should lead to effort, under the auspices of the Pardon Project, it should be Wilmington.
Our history of struggle and strife - from 1898, through the 1971 post-civil rights movement strife and 1972’s false convictions, right through to today’s  effort to secure ten individual pardons of innocence - enable our port city to push this state towards justice.
So we should be proud, community. Tuesday night’s Faith Rally proved that the spirit of justice is still alive in well here in Wilmington. We still care about a quality, equal education that challenges all students in our school system to be their very best.
And we care about a criminal justice system that no longer holds a person’s race or politics against them.
These are the values taught to us by the examples set forth for us by the Wilmington Ten. Values that we can, should teach our children.
But many of us must learn them first.
And that’s what’s so exciting about the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project. It forces us to learn about what is right for our community, and then activating working hard to make it so.
So Wilmington, if you haven’t done so already, contact our Wilmington Journal office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays so that you can volunteer to collect signature petitions for the cause. Your spirit, devotion and dedication to freedom and justice are all that is needed.
That, and our ability to stand strong…TOGETHER!
Because if the saga of the Wilmington Ten taught all of us anything, it taught us the power of working together, and being every hungry for the truth in all things.
So let’s lock arms, and indeed, work together to get our target 100,000 signatures for the Wilmington Ten.
Call our Journal office for more information at 910-762-5502.

REV. BARBER PREACHING FOR "THE TEN' - Rev. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, speaking at St. Stephen's A.M.E. church Tuesday night, calling for the state of North Carolina to pardon the Wilmington Ten {John Davis photo]

By Cash Michaels

            [WILMINGTON] Saying that it was it was ordained by God that the Wilmington Ten be finally granted pardons of innocence by the state of North Carolina for crimes they were falsely convicted of forty years ago, Rev. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP urged supporters of the ten activists to stand strong for justice on their behalf.
            "The NAACP is proud to stand by this effort for the pardons of innocence for the Wilmington Ten," Rev. Barber, the keynote speaker, told the cheering audience at St. Stephen’s A.M.E. Church Tuesday night, during the first “Faith Community Rally” for the Wilmington Ten pardon effort.
            Meanwhile organizers began organizing volunteers locally for a petition drive to collect upwards of 100,000 signatures to support the Wilmington Ten. Interested persons from across the state were urged to call The Wilmington Journal office at 910-762-5502 to find out how they can be involved.
            Co-sponsored by the local advisory committee of the national Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project - an outreach effort of the National Newspaper Publishers Association - and the New Hanover County NAACP, the rally served as the kickoff for the national petition drive to urge Governor Beverly Perdue to grant individual pardons of innocence on the seven surviving members of the Wilmington Ten, and the three deceased members.
            With Wilmington native Rev. Kojo Nantambu, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP as the master of ceremonies, the program was a mixture of expressed support for the cause from the Wilmington/New Hanover County community, and inspirational singing from the Rev. Dr. J. Allen Kirk Youth Choir.
            Over 200 people, many of whom were old enough to remember the controversy over forty years ago when black students in Wilmington, angry because the New Hanover Public School System had closed their all-black Williston High School without notice, demonstrated, demanding educational equality.
            Rev. Benjamin Chavis was sent by the United Church of Christ to peacefully and constructive lead the protests in February 1971. But shortly after, violence broke out, with white supremacists driving through the black community, shooting indiscriminately.
            A white-owned grocery store was firebombed, and a year later, police arrested several of the black students protestors, a white female community activist, and Rev. Chavis, falsely charging them with conspiracy in the crime.
            The ‘Wilmington ten,” as they were eventually called, were falsely convicted in 1972 in Pender County, and collective sentenced to 282 years in prison.
            They all served some of that time before years later, all of the witnesses that testified against them recanted their testimony.
            And in 1980, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals - an appellate court Rev. Barber made note had no African-Americans on it, and was, in fact, approved of by powerful US Senator Jesse Helms, the archconservative from North Carolina - overturned all of the Wilmington Ten convictions.
            But for the past 32 years, Rev. Barber added, the state of North Carolina has refused to “repent” from the false convictions, and rightfully pardon the Ten.
            The same, he added, as the state has recently failed to “repent” by compensating the poor black and white mostly female victims of North Carolina’s forced sterilization program.
            Prior to Rev. Barber’s keynote address, Willie Earl Vereen, who, along with other Wilmington Ten members Connie Tindall, Marvin ‘Chili” Patrick and James McKoy, attended Tuesday’s faith rally, told the congregation that the African-American must learn how to stand up for what is right again, instead of just accepting injustice.
            He thanked the Wilmington community for its support.           
 Dr. Benjamin Chavis, leader of the Wilmington Ten, could not attend Tuesday’s Faith Rally at St. Stephen’s. But he did send a statement to be read to the congregation:
          Dear Brothers and Sisters:
          On behalf of the Wilmington Ten and all members of our families, we express to you our profound gratitude for your presence tonight. We are grateful to St. Stephen's A.M.E. Church for welcoming and hosting this important rally for justice and equality.  We thank the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and in particular we thank Mary Alice Jervay Thatch and the Wilmington Journal for their long standing support and leadership. 
          We especially salute the outstanding and courageous leadership of the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II and the NAACP.  As the tremendously effective President of the NC State Conference of the NAACP, the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the nation, we are so honored that Dr. Barber will bless this occasion with the eloquence of his commitment as a renown freedom fighter and preacher of the Gospel.
          40 years is a long time.  Yet we acknowledge with a renewed sense of faith in the God of freedom and justice that the Lord is always on time and that the pursuit of freedom, justice and equality is a constant struggle from generation to the next. 
          Our faith remains strong.  Our commitment to equal justice remains high and our determination make our world a better place remains secure.  The campaign to attain a Pardon of Innocence for the Wilmington Ten is a moral campaign.  Governor Perdue's decision will go beyond mere politics or calculated political risk assessment.  This campaign is gaining momentum because it is morally right and theological sound. The Wilmington Ten 40 years ago stood up for the civil rights of all the children in the New Hanover County Public School system.  Inside Gregory Church there on Nun Street we prayed on our knees and then we stood to organized our peaceful movement for the equal education of all of God's children in Wilmington.   
              Tonight our prayers and faith continues.  Even though progress has been made over the past 40 years, we must not permit the strong head winds of racial discrimination that appear to be gaining some force in North Carolina blow us off course.  A pardon of innocence for the Wilmington Ten is a pardon of repentance for NC.  Justice for the Wilmington Ten will be justice for all.  May God bless this Faith Rally.
Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.



A former Wake District Court judge, a Raleigh attorney and a legal assistance have all been indicted by a Wake grand jury for alleged improper mishandling of at least a dozen DWI cases. Former Judge Kristin Ruth, who stepped down from the bench several weeks ago when first accused, along with attorney James Crouch and the legal assistant, will all face trial now. Ruth has said she was duped by Crouch into signing court orders that manipulated the dates on DWI cases that had been appealed, cases that were not legally Judge Ruth’s. Doing so effectively limited the punishment in those cases.

       A former member of the Durham Board of County Commissioners has been chosen to fill out the term of Commissioner Joe Bowser, who stepped down last month after losing re-election. Rev. Phillip Cousin, who has served previously, will takeover Bowser’s seat until this December. The choice is in contradiction to that of the Durham Democratic Party, which had chosen Fred Foster. Foster’s nomination ran into trouble because of old allegations about his dismissal 21 years ago from the Dept. of Social Services.

One of the most popular veteran radio personalities in the Triangle area is being funeralized today. Alvin Stowe, who helped to put urban stations Foxy 107FM/104FM on the air in the late 1980s, died Saturday in Winston-Salem after his family had his life support discontinued. Stowe, who was a Shaw University alum, was reportedly suffering from Hodgkin’s disease when he died. Before Foxy, Stowe programmed 1490 WDUR-AM in Durham. In recent years, Stowe changed his radio moniker to “A.C. Stone” and worked for radio stations in Charlotte and Greensboro. Stowe was known for always working in the community.


            [WILMINGTON]  Apparently the most popular superhero on the big screen right now likes his seafood cooked “down home” style. Robert Downey, Jr., who portrays Iron Man in “The Avengers,” as well as in two previous Iron Man movies, and is in Wilmington filming “Iron Man 3” right now, reportedly liked the seafood at black-owned restaurant “Catch” so much, that he highly recommended it to costars Gwyneth Paltrow and Jon Faveau, who directed the first two Iron man movies. “Catch” is owned by chef Keith Rhodes and his wife, Angela. Paltrow reportedly had ceviche and sweet potato salad.
            [RALEIGH] Today the remnants of St. Agnes Hospital are still there sitting next to the campus of St. Augustine’s College in the Oakwood community. Long closed, St. Agnes once served as a hospital that African-Americans could go to during the segregation period of the early 1900s to the civil rights era. It also trained hundreds of black nurses. Now, there are announced plans to rebuild St. Agnes as a community medical center. Rex Healthcare, in partnership with developer Billie Redmond, say the center will provide primary and urgent care service to the community when opened.

            [RALEIGH]  A downtown Raleigh bar is fighting allegations of racism after a black man accused the general manager of putting him in a headlock and throwing him out. Jonathan Wall, 21, alleges that he was manhandled at the Downtown Sports Bar and Grill on Glenwood Avenue recently after he went there with white friends. Wall maintains that he did nothing wrong. The attorney for the bar says Wall was not kicked out because of his race, adding that the place is a private club. But others blacks who have heard Wall’s account say the same thing has happened to them in the past a well.

By Cash Michaels

            The first line of the News and Observer’s Wake Ed Blog June 20, the day the Wake School Board voted 5-4 to reincorporate diversity in student assignment, said it all - Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata literally played the good soldier at today’s press conference as he didn’t criticize the school board’s call to develop a base school assignment plan.
            Indeed, even though Tata, after the Democrat-led board gave him new marching orders to scrap his floundering school choice plan, maintained that it was beginning to bare fruit after a rocky start with a “high satisfaction rate” among a majority of Wake County parents, he reluctantly conceded that he and his staff, “…work at the direction of the board.”
            More specifically, a Democratic board majority with which Tata, a conservative Tea Party sympathizer who sources say has US senatorial aspirations in a few years, has had several very public nasty fights with in the six months they’ve been in charge.
            With his heart really not into establishing a base school model with aspects of choice, and elements of stability, proximity, student achievement and diversity, will Tata drag his feet in meeting the 2013-14 school year deadline, or will the retired US Army brigadier general be the “good soldier,” and follow the directive?
            No matter what Tata’s personal feelings, some community leaders expect him too, beginning with his boss.
            “I’ve talked with Supt. Tata a little bit about this,” Wake School Board Chairman Kevin Hill told The Carolinian last week. :”I think he’s a professional. My expectation, as chairman…is as superintendent, you take our direction from the Board of Education, and whatever direction the Board of Education points Wake County in, I need you to enthusiastically and wholeheartedly work to make that happen, and he understands that, that’s his intention.”
But Chairman Hill also added a cautionary note to Tata’s “intention.”
“I’m going to take him at his word, and look to partner with him, again with the caveat that somewhere along the line, every superintendent has to make a decision if they’re comfortable with what the board is directing them to do or not,” Hill said, reminding of Tata’s predecessor in the job, Del Burns, who resigned shortly after a Republican-led majority on the board, with intentions of scrapping diversity and instituting racially segregated neighborhood schools, took over in 2010.
That board majority hired Tata, who had no classroom experience, and only 18 months of any school administration experience, to run the nation’s 16th largest public school system.
Chairman Hill seemed to suggest that he wouldn’t be surprised if Tata, now given the change in board majority leadership, had a change of heart.
“I compare superintendents to major league baseball managers - they kind of come and go,” Hill told The Carolinian. “I respect Tony, I respect the service that he has given to our country, I like him an individual, and want to take him at his word that he will work in the best interests of the children of Wake County.”
Even Tata’s staunchest critics expressed the belief that the “good soldier,” no matter what his personal beliefs, will get the new directive done.
“It would be my thought that he understands that [in] the governance process that the board dictates what [is done]… and as an employee of the Wake County Public Schools, I’m sure he understands…the protocol of what that demand means,” said Calla Wright, president of Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African-American Children. 
Yevonne Brannon, chair of Great Schools in Wake Coalition - a frequent adversary of Supt. Tata and his school choice plan - agrees that it is his job to now come up with a workable base assignment plan that connects student addresses to particular schools.
That’s Tata’s job, but she’s not so sure he’s going to do it!
“I don’t know, because I don’t know Mr. Tata,” Brannon told The Carolinian. “He seems to be more interested in following his own beliefs, his own interests. His personal will seems to be stronger than listening to the board’s will. So I’m not so sure that he’s good at following direction and following orders. I haven’t seen that. I don’t know him personally.”
But Brannon added, “ I would say, I hope so. I hope that he has taken an oath as superintendent that serves the best interests of the Board of Education…and I hope he will do what he can to make [WCPSS] successful.”

By Cash Michaels

            LEBRON’S THE MAN - It is very good to see someone finally get the monkey off his back. So it was great seeing Lebron James dancing, waving and smiling wide like a kid when the embattled Miami Heat the NBA World Championship by defeating the awesome Kevin Durant - Russell Westbrook OKC Thunder last week, sweeping the last four of five games in a best of seven series.
            I had originally picked the Heat to win the title last year, only to watch Lebron, Dwyane Wade and the boys get trounced by the “chumpian” Dallas Mavericks (who had no business winning the title, as proven by their failure to make it back).
            I stayed with the Heat again this year, and was rewarded with gutsy plays, and more “attack” basketball, meaning that Lebron worked hard on his game so that he could dominate the action.
            And he has, taking the ball to the hole more times than not. He still shoots a crazy three-pointer now and then, but at least he doesn’t live at half-court anymore, like he did last year.
            And what about D. Wade? Even with bad knees, Wade is still one of the most exciting basketball players on the planet today, penetrating defenses and scoring at will.
            No doubt this was one of the most NBA playoff and finals season in the history of the game, and the Heat kept you on the edge of your seat.
            So the Miami Heat are the world’s new NBA champs. But the Thunder made a loud and clear statement too. They will be back, and they will stand in the champions’ circle one day.
            That’s for certain.
            JOHN AND RIELLE - So let me get this straight, after super mistress Rielle Hunter released her tell-all book last week about the “true” story of her relationship with former Sen. John Edwards, he dumped her and the daughter that he fathered. In her words, they’re a “family” (they aren’t married), but not a “couple” anymore.
            Ya think?!!!
            Edwards got the best attorneys in the nation to steer the federal corruption case against him into the dumper, and now he’s hoping against hope to rebuild his very tarnished public image so he can get back into the political game again.
            Who knows, “Edwards for president in 2016”?
            But whatever big time mistakes Edwards has made, nothing…absolutely nothing tops getting involved with Rielle Hunter during the 2008 presidential campaign.
            Plus the man got her pregnant.
            And thought that he could still run for president, and deal with the fallout.
            There should be a special rock for the man to crawl under, never to be seen again.
            There should be.
            For real.
            GOODBYE, ALVIN - Today, a good friend and outstanding veteran radio personality, Alvin Stowe, was laid to rest.
            Alvin and I were crosstown rivals when I first got to the Durham market in 1981. Al was at WDUR-AM, and I was at WSRC-AM. A few months after I got to town, my late wife then, Felicia Ledesma, followed me from New York, getting a job at country station WTIK in Durham. She later went to WDUR to do news, and when Foxy 107/104 FM was born, she was among the first on the air. Al’s late wife, Cathy Stowe, did the public affairs TV show "Reflections" on WTVD, and would always recruit me to do the UNCF telethon, along with her hubby. Al was always cool.
            He went on to work in Charlotte and Greensboro, creating a new radio persona, “A.C. Stone.” In the latter years, he and I communicated a lot on Facebook.
            Al was an alum of Shaw University, and he always had the community at heart. He leaves behind a wife and four children. The prayers and condolences of  my family are with his.
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 Faith Community Rally at St. Stephen’s A.M.E Church on Tuesday. A big thanks to all who came out and enjoyed.
An extra big salute to the Local Advisory Committee of the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project and the New Hanover NAACP, both of whom worked closely together to make the Faith Rally such a success.
And a super extra big thank you to NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William Barber for firing us all up with his exceptional keynote address.
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, videos, 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.
Thus far, we have over 390 signatures. We are working towards 100,000, if not more.
Please 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.

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