Tuesday, July 31, 2012


By Cash Michaels
Staff writer


Editor’s note - There is no question that the false prosecution forty years of the nine young black men and one white woman who would become widely known as 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 at the time.
             Most of them had dreams of bright, hope-filled futures. Some wanted to practice law. Some wanted to play professional sports.
Today, forty years later, the Wilmington Ten and their families seek individual pardons of innocence from the State of North Carolina for crimes they didn’t commit. But even pardons cannot erase the pain and struggle they’ve all endured.

Ms. Judy Mack remembers those days when her mother, Anne Shepard, stood strong against discrimination of any kind. Whether it be race, gender or size, Shepard believed that all were equal in GOD’s sight, and she raised her three children to believe the same.
That belief made life harder for Shepard, a 34-year-old white woman who, in 1971, stood foursquare with black students in Wilmington against what Shepard believed to be the racial treatment of them by the powers that be. A community worker who helped poor families in the projects, Shepard was well-known and well-respected. So working with students at Gregory Church was a natural part of what she did best.
So when the arrests began in 1972 in connection with the Mike’s Grocery Store destruction a year earlier, Shepard, a single parent, was swept up. Even though she knew that she was being targeted, Shepard refused to leave despite being warned to do so.
The authorities had hoped to turn Shepard against Rev. Ben Chavis and the other activists, but Shepard, knowing that none of them had committed any crime in association with Mike’s, refused.
She explained to her three children, Ms. Mack recalls, that she was standing on principle for the black students, and was willing to deal with whatever authorities threw at her. Thus, Shepard would stand strong against the false allegations. Mack was eleven at the time, and didn’t understand fully what was going on. But she knew that her mother needed support, so she and one of Shepard’s two other children were in court constantly (an older sister ran away), hoping that it would be all over, and that she could come back home.
“She truly believed in what she was doing,” Ms. Mack said. “And she raised us, as young women, and we, too were young women and could make a difference.”
After she was convicted, Shepard received the lowest sentence of all of the Wilmington Ten. But being sent away for a total of 15 years was a blow to Shepard’s children.
“It was hard being separated from my mother, “ Ms. Mack says. She recalls a relative having to make the daylong travel to the prison to see their mother, and then staying over in a motel to make it back home safely. The visits were very emotionally.
Shepard was “never a complainer, never a whiner. She was string for us, for other people,” says Mack.
In order to partially survive prison, Shepard learned how to crochet to keep her mind and hands busy.
“My mother wasn’t a knitting kind of person, but she wanted to make sure that we had Christmas presents from her,” Mack recalls. She made hats, sweaters and scarves.
Shepard also spent plenty of tine in the prison law library, loving to read and write. At one point, she helped organize a boycott in women’s prison, protesting what she felt were violations of inmates’ right.
Though her freedom was restricted, Shepard lived to help people, and that’s what kept her going.
When she was released early while the case was on appeal, Anne Shepard was eventually reunited with her daughters, moved to Raleigh, and continued improving herself.  After a few years when the appeals to the North Carolina courts failed, she had to turn herself in, this separating from her daughters again.
Shepard was finally released from prison again, and eventually moved to Durham regaining custody of her daughters after a few months. She continued to improve herself through courses and other work, graduated from Durham Tech in the end.
Mack said Shepard was always being questioned by other white people about why she would sacrifice herself for blacks, which she didn’t appreciate.
And on one fateful evening, while walking home, Shepard walked over to a car when she heard the occupant call out to her, and ended up being seriously beaten.
In 2011, Anne Shepard, residing in Durham, died.
If Judy Mack could asked Gov. Perdue to issue a pardon of innocence for her mother, Anne Shepard, what would she say?
“The evidence should show that there was misconduct, and that [the Wilmington Ten] are innocent,” Mack says. “To be in prison is one thing, but to be in prison away from your children, your family…I can’t imagine…’

                                           REGINALD EPPS
If there’s one Wilmington Ten member who insists on leaving the whole sordid way he was treated behind, it is Reginald Epps. He does not attend anniversary programs, nor do interviews. Epps works very hard not to think about how, at a very young age, the Wilmington Ten experience forced him to struggle to survive.
“As you go through life, you’ve got this thing over you…this cloud over your mind,” he says. You realize that you don’t have access to things that you ordinarily think you would be able to get access to - jobs…being able to fill out a resume and present myself at an interview. I knew those things were probably closed off to me, or at least I felt that way. I had to backdoor my way into a normalcy or a life [after leaving prison], as opposed to the more traditional graduate high school, then go to college and get a job.”
Epps didn’t pass his high school courses, nor get a diploma, until he was serving time in prison.
And yet, Epps, one of nine children, credits the experience for, in a sense, changing his life. He readily admits being a young man who stayed in trouble, heading down a path in life that assured worst things to come. He was a hustler, with no dreams
Epps was 17, and a student at Hoggard High when he found himself caught in the Wilmington Ten web. He visited the Gregory Church often because it was the only experience he had of being with other black students who were engaged in positive pursuits to build self-esteem, pride and knowledge of self.
It was 1972 when two school resource officers walked up to Reggie Epps in the school hallway and said, “Come with us.” Epps had no idea why, but when he found out that he was being charged as a conspirator in the firebombing of Mike’s Grocery, neither he nor his parents could believe it.
“I had no clue,” Epps says. He was also puzzled when he saw other friends of his who ultimately comprised the Wilmington Ten. He knew them all, and knew that the police had the wrong people.
Epps says the families that had resources were able to get their children out of the trouble. The teens who were left behind, like himself, were the most vulnerable because their parents couldn’t fight back.
His mother scolded Epps for even being involved with the black student movement at Gregory Church, feeling that because it was radical, it would only lead to trouble, no matter what the cause.
Epps goes on trial with Ben Chavis and nine others, and he knew that convictions were certain from watching the prosecutor challenge black jurors in the second trial, while ‘redneckish” white jurors were getting on with little problem.
When the trial was over, Epps is sentenced to a combined 28 years in prison. The relevance of it didn’t hit Epps right away, he says. His family did not attend the trial, and were not there during the sentencing.
Odom Farms was the prison Epps was assigned to. Because of the distance, his parent can’t visit. Epps writes letters, particularly with his sister.
Epps survived prison by sticking close to Willie Vereen and other Ten members.
“You had those up days and down days,” he recalls.
While he was in prison, Epps stepfather was killed.
When Epps was finally early released in the late 1970’s, he was glad, especially since the case against the Wilmington Ten was unraveling before the world.
Epps knew not to come back to Wilmington. He moved to Raleigh to start his life fresh. Epps knows that his Wilmington Ten background will sink opportunities, so he takes the lowest level jobs possible so that he can work his way up without detection.
The strategy worked for a number of years, allowing Epps to work his way up the corporate ladder. He had to leave in order to take care of his mother, who later passed.
After that trauma in his life, Epps started all over again, finding low level work to “back door” his way up the ladder again.
So why does Reginald Epps feel that he deserves a pardon of innocence from the state of North Carolina? Epps said the pardon should have been rendered years ago when Gov. Jim Hunt was still in office.
“Second, it’s the right thing to do. I had nothing to do with that [Mike’s Grocery] mess. Your system screwed up,” Epps said. “You can fix it.”

                                              WAYNE MOORE
After Wayne Moore was finally released from prison in 1979 after spending several years as a member of the Wilmington Ten, he went back to Wilmington, hoping not only to be reaccepted into the community, but to get his young life on track after being falsely convicted of crimes he did not do.
Moore was originally sentenced to 29 years in prison at age 19.
But it soon became clear, after losing job after job, and being shunned by many in the community, that there was no future for Moore in his hometown anymore.
So he had to move to Michigan, where he learned a trade as an electrician, and is gainfully employed.
But Moore had to leave his home, friends and family in North Carolina to have any positive future at all. It is a sacrifice and indignity Moore had to suffer, on top of being tried, convicted, and serving in prison.
All because as a student in Wilmington in 1971, he stood up and demanded equal education for black students in New Hanover County schools.
Moore wrote the following, a while back, about how he saw his struggles:
Although I can only imagine what it was like to be a slave chained to the bowels of a slave ship, my experience with the Wilmington 10 allowed me to somewhat sample physical bondage with no ability for self-reliance, or self-determination.
           Once freed from physical bondage one may either become careless and carefree, mean and desensitized, or fragile and unable to cope. Or one may become courageous warrior triumphant in many of their endeavors. Seldom does one exit unaffected.
Although I am determined to somehow triumph, I have struggled tremendously over the years to overcome the psychological and social effects of being imprisoned for crimes I never committed. My self-confidence and self-esteem were shattered. After long separations from my family and friends, I found it difficult to deal effectively with the responsibilities of everyday life, including fatherhood.  My young children resented the time I spent away from them and our relationships have never been quite the same. Repairing those wounded relationships has been my most difficult challenged to date.  The State of North Carolina has never been held accountable for this tragic disruption in my life after allowing one of the most blatant miscarriages of justice in the history of America to take place. The city of Wilmington has already apologized for this injustice. It is now time for the state of North Carolina to do the same by granting The Wilmington Ten a full pardon of innocence.

                                         BENJAMIN CHAVIS
Without a doubt, the most famous member of the Wilmington Ten its leader, Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis. He was the convener of the 1995 Million Man March. He led the NAACP as its president/CEO, and today, Chavis heads the Hip-Hop Action Network, and is a respected businessman  who travels the world.
But whatever success Ben Chavis has had since his experience with the Wilmington Ten, has come at a personal price that still haunts him today.
Almost as soon as then-Rev. Ben Chavis, a civil rights organizer sent by the United Church of Christ, arrived in Wilmington to help lead the black student protest in February 1971, he was branded an outsider by public officials, warned to leave town, and his life was immediately is threatened.
Indeed, white supremacists are allowed by local police to open fire at Gregory Church, where Rev. Chavis, 24, is working with black students, training them how to peacefully, but forcefully, demonstrate for justice in the public schools.
Chavis tells of having a bullet fired at him, piercing his leather jacket.
“I was shot at a number of times,” he recalls, adding that people were wounded as a result. But police refused repeatedly to investigate, or call a curfew to prevent further violence, in hopes that Rev. Chavis or some of his “radical” followers would get hurt, or even killed.
“We were building a growing movement, and that was threatening to the power structure of Wilmington,” Chavis says.
On February 6, 1971, Mike’s Grocery, a block down from Gregory Church, was firebombed. Chavis is immediately blamed. A warrant is eventually issued for his arrest. He has to negotiate the terms of turning himself in safely.
Chavis is tried and convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to firebomb Mike’s Grocery. Rev. Chavis was sentenced to 34 years in prison.
In his own words, Rev. Chavis talked about his experience in incarceration.
Life in the five different North Carolina maximum, medium and later minimum security prisons where I was imprisoned in 1972, 1976, 1977,1978, and throughout 1979 were the years that I personally experienced what millions on prisoners in the United States are made to endure.  I was not a “celebrity” inmate.  I got the same dehumanizing and degrading treatment that the average prisoner received.
I learned to stay focus on not just my individual rights or to focus only on the Wilmington Ten case, but just as importantly, I spent most of my prison time advocating for the rights of prisoners in US and in particular the rights of all US political prisoners. 
I have several motivations. First, the members of the Wilmington Ten were innocent of the unjust charges. Secondly, my faith in God, family and the freedom struggle kept me going in a positive state of mind even though I was in the midst of death threats and plots while in prison.  Thirdly, I was motivated by the courage and determination of my young co-defendants who also stayed strong, even though at times the prison officials kept us in separate state prisons. 
  Finally I kept my “spirit” strong.  One of the objects of political incarceration is to break the spirit of the political prisoner.  I came out of prison stronger and more committed to the struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
The Wilmington Ten case, struggle and eventual victory had a tremendous impact in helping to shape who I am today.  I was 23 years-old when the incident in Wilmington happened, but by that age, I was already an eleven-year veteran of the Civil Rights Movement.  We were imprisoned when I was 24 years-old.  What I later accomplished in my 30’s, 40’s and 50’s was certainly impacted and  shaped by the Wilmington Ten chapter of my life.
  Today, I am still a “freedom fighter.”

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF ELDERS FORMS IN GREENSBORO - Members of the newly formed  National Council of Elders visit the F.W. Woolworth sit-ins exhibition at the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro. As veterans of the civil and human rights struggle, the council says they will listen to youth leaders, and share their wisdom and experience to help impact critical issues. [Cash Michaels video still]

By Cash Michaels

            [GREENSBORO] They come from all walks of the civil and human rights struggle, each a distinguished leader with a long record of advocacy molded in courage, and sacrifice.
            Ministers, activists, poets, former elected officials, retired military, disciples of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and even the former US ambassador to South Africa, among others.
            But this week these leaders - some in their 60’s, 70’s, and even some at age 80 if not beyond- came together in what they themselves called “an historic gathering,” specifically in Greensboro, and at NC A&T University, to be reborn in a collective purpose, amid the legacy of the 1960 lunch counter sit-in movement that inspired the world, and still inspires them all.
They are now the National Council of Elders, and by their own definition, the new entity is ”…a newly organized, independent group of leaders from many of the defining American social justice movements of the 20th century, committed to educating and mentoring future leaders who will join, and lead democratizing movements in the 21st century.”
In effect, the Council - seeing a nation that 40 and 50 years ago they fought mightily to ensure would care for the poor, educate its youth, and protect the rights of communities of color - is reengaging in those struggles on a collective level because they see the progress that they and other leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr had achieved, being eroded at an alarming rate.
Indeed, during their lively three-day conference discussions at NC A&T The Carolinian had exclusive access to, some had expressed dire concern that even if President Barack Obama is re-reelected, the forces of negative change per the nation’s economic and social structures have amassed a great deal of momentum.
Momentum the president alone can’t battle.
The Council hopes that by coming together now, and bringing to fore literally hundreds of years of collective experience in civil, human, environmental, anti-war, labor, women’s economic, immigrant and gay-lesbian rights advocacy, they join with young leadership like the Occupy Movement, and develop strategies, based on direct non-violence advocacy, to make America more responsive to the needs of its people, rather than the machinations of the powerful.
They see their role today, as a collective, in so many facets. Mentorship. Empowerment. Giving, yes, but also getting from youth leaders. Telling the true story of how they ushered in an era of true social change, blemishes and all. Sharing wisdom, experience and knowledge. Preserving the tradition of civil rights movement.
In short, properly equipping today’s young leadership to lead.
“If you have your own voice, you can create your own weather,” says Elder Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, leader of the famed acappella spiritual singing group Sweet Honey in the Rock.
The phrase, “tall order,” doesn’t even begin to define the massive challenge this league of older diverse leaders face. But a closer look at who they are, the obstacles they faced, and the causes they fought, and in some respects are still fighting, suggests that facing long odds and towering circumstances is nothing new for this bunch.
Rev. James Lawson and his brother, Rev. Phillip Lawson, both of whom, along with Dr. Vincent Harding, worked closely with Dr. King and others in the movement, strategizing and teaching youth leaders with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 60’s how to confront racism in the South, using the philosophy and practice of peaceful direct action.
Other Elders include Dolores Hurta, cofounder of the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, to advocate for immigrant labor rights; and Rev Dr. Mel White, who has long fought for equal right in the gay and lesbian community.
The birthplace of the National Council of Elders is no accident.
Greensboro is seen throughout the civil rights community and the world as one of the meccas of the movement, where in February of 1960, four courageous NC A&T University students, went to the downtown F. W. Woolworth store, sat down at the all-white lunch counter, and peacefully, but firmly, demanded to be served.
It was a direct challenge to southern segregation laws, and it ignited a nationwide youth movement that saw the birth of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and young leaders like Rev. Charles Sherrod, who with his wife, Shirley Sherrod, who was fired from her federal job two years ago by the Obama Administration because she was falsely labeled as a racist by the Tea Party, attended the council conference.
Indeed, when the Elders held their first press conference Tuesday to announce their formation and purpose, it was on A&T’s campus, directly under the towering statue of the Greensboro Four.
They also came, from all across the nation, because of the work of Rev. Nelson Johnson and his wife, Joyce.
Longtime veterans of the movement for justice in Greensboro, the Johnsons have been leading as from their college years where they respectively led movements for equality, to Rev. Johnson’s involvement in the November 1979 Greensboro massacre where Klansmen and Nazis killed several demonstrators, to the Beloved Community Center the couple leads today.
The respect that many have for the Johnson’s great work in Greensboro, made this city of civil rights history the perfect place for the Council to be born, they say.
            It is by no accident that the National Council of Elders rejects the idea of “passing the torch.” That would suggest they have relinquished their roles in the human rights struggle.
            Instead, they proclaim that they are, “merging the light and heat of the torches [they] carried in the 20th century with the light and heat of the torches” now carried by the young leaders of the 21st century, to inspire them to boldly move forward towards the “beloved community.”


            Outgoing North Carolina Central University Chancellor Charlie Nelms’ last day on the job is next week, August 6th. But he has said precious little about exactly why he is leaving, let lone why now. Helms, 65, has led NCCU since 2007. He was scheduled to meet with the press this week, but changed his mind, instead issuing a statement saying, ““I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as the 10th Chancellor of North Carolina Central University. I feel strongly and passionately about shifting the discussion from my retirement to the arrival of Interim Chancellor Charles Becton next week and his efforts to continue moving NCCU forward while focusing on the university’s number one priority: student success. Retired Judge Charles Becton has been appointed interim NCCU chancellor.           

            The prize is only bragging rights, but if you’re interested, the NC Dept. of Transportation is sponsoring a naming contest for Triangle to name the new I-40/440 ii mile reconstruction project from US Highway 1 in Cary to US Highway 64/264 in Raleigh. One or two names (no profanity) will be accepted. Entries must be submitted to lrfriedman@ncdot.gov by 5 p.m. on Aug. 10. The best five names will be chosen by NCDOT staff. A public vote will be taken on www.ncdot. gov from Aug 14 - 17. Winner will be announced on Aug 22.

            If you’re living in the Raleigh - Cary area, and are looking for a job, congratulations. According to the Forbes Magazine, Raleigh-Cary is seventh on the latest “Best Cities for Jobs” list. That means among metropolitan areas with 450,000 or more jobs, Raleigh-Cary has moved from last year’s 14th place to seventh. Raleigh-Cary has had 2.2 percent growth in the past year.



            [PRINCEVILLE] For the second time in its history, the African-American-founded town of Princeville has allowed the state of North Carolina to take over it finances so it can ultimately balance its budget. The Local Government Commission, an arm of the State Treasurer’s Office, took over the Edgecombe County town’s books Monday. Reportedly, Princeville is operating $1 million beyond its budget, and according to the state, does not have the personnel, or the expertise to manage a $310,700 loan to overhaul its water meter system. Princeville Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates opposed the state takeover. 

            [RALEIGH] A former employee of the state Democratic Party alleges that the chairman of the party defamed him once the employee left the party several months ago, after alleging being sexually harassed by the former executive director, Adriadn Ortega.
Ortega’s attorney, Kieran Shanahan, filed a court injunction, as part of a defamation lawsuit against party Chairman David Parker, charging that Parker “suggested” in a press conference that Ortega wasn’t telling the truth about being sexually harassed by Jay Parmley, who resigned his executive director’s post. A secret settlement from Parker was reportedly taken by Ortega to keep quiet. At press time, a Wake County hearing was scheduled Wednesday afternoon.

            [NEW YORK] A Raleigh woman who snatched a newborn baby from a Harlem hospital in 1987, and raised her as her own for 23 years, was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a NY judge. Federal prosecutors felt Ann Pettaway, 50, should have gotten at least 20 years. The judge told Pettaway she “inflicted a parent’s worst nightmare.”




By Cash Michaels

            THE FIRST LADY - One of the highlights of the Games of the XXX Olympiad was seeing First Lady Michelle Obama in London leading the American delegation. She has been our number one cheerleader over there, being present at tennis matches to encourage Serena Williams, and being ready with healthy hugs for the sweaty Team USA men’s basketball team (it’s a good thing the men’s swimming team isn’t doing so hot. Can’t imagine Michelle Obama hugging a bunch of dripping wet naked men).
            The First Lady just brings so much love and humanity to everything that she does, especially when she represents her husband, and our nation.
            No matter what happens next November in the presidential election, this a time in history I hope none of us every forget a time when we had a First Lady that always had time to share herself with a nation, a community, or even a child.
            Michelle Obama will go down in history as the great woman that she is. I have no doubt. 
            THE OLYMPICS - I just love the global energy of the Summer Olympic games. To see the best of our young people compete on the worldwide stage, to see the commitment and determination, and best of all, to see the humanity displayed that we all share, is something that is so needed, given the foolishness, and out and out lying that we see from just about every quarter during this election year.
            To put it simply, watching the Olympics on television is refreshing because, beyond the Team USA men’s basketball squad (and various NBA players playing for other countries), we know that the athletes are not wealthy, spoiled brats. Those kids are regular people, are our neighbors, who have scrapped up their money, and worked and trained very hard to be where they are today.
            That means something to most of us because it permits us to genuinely cheer them on.
            Oh sure, I love watching “Dream Team 2012” thrash an opposing team by 30-40 points. But I know that every player - from Lebron to Kobe - will brush off losing the gold because they’re really in the business of winning an NBA championship.
            But the kid who does not play for pro team, who is only playing to be the best for family, hometown and country, who plays with all of the heart in the world, THAT is the kid I root for more than any other, because we know that’s all they have.
            So we’ll see ultimately who wins the gold, and who doesn’t.
            But regardless of the outcome, we’re proud of all of them for fighting, and trying, to be the best in the world, and for representing us.
            DON CHEADLE - Last weekend, I took my nien-year-old daughter, KaLa, with me to Durham on my interview with acting superstar Don Cheadle. Cheadle is one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors, having starred or co-starred with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Al Pacino (the “Ocean 11” films); Denzel Washington (“Devil in  Blue Dress” and the upcoming “Flight”), and of course  Robert Downey Jr. (“Iron Man 2”).
            Cheadle has been in Wilmington for the past several weeks doing “Iron Man 3” returning to his role as “War Machine.”
            But Saturday, Cheadle was visiting Durham and Raleigh, stumping on behalf of Pres. Obama. Cheadle was very clear on why he felt it was imperative that the president must be reelected. He is an intelligent man of the arts ho cares deeply about important issues, and his president.
            Listen to Cheadle’s interview this afternoon (Thursday) at 4 p.m. on my show, “Make it Happen,” on Power 750 WAUG-Am, and on the web at www.myWAUG.com.
            THE COUNCIL OF ELDERS - This week I’m in Greensboro covering the National Council of Elders Conference at NC A&T University. I’ve covered a lot of meetings and conferences, but this one is unique, indeed.
            “Veterans of the defining American social justice movements of the 20th century.”
            That is their definition of who they are, and what they’ve done. Many are civil rights activists of the 50’s and 60’s. Some worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Cesar Chavez to bring about the great social change we enjoy today. Some were anti-war and gay rights activists. Some were environmentalists.
            I even met an activist, who once was a monk, who years ago married a nun.
            I’m not kidding.
            This week they all came together to discuss ways of using their great experience and wisdom of yesteryear, to impact the issues and politics of today.
            The very fact that at ages of 60, 70 and 80 (if not older) these activists still believe that they have something to offer to improve our collective quality of life.
            You’ll be reading the story elsewhere in this paper, but make no mistake, based on what I’ve heard during this conference, you will be hearing from the National Council of Elders in the very near future.   
            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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012



[GREENSBORO] For the tenth straight year, parents will be able to save money by not paying state sales tax on specific items when the annual sales tax holiday comes the weekend of Aug. 3-5. Clothing, footwear and school supplies of $100 or less per item; along with school instructional material of $300 or less per item; sports and recreational equipment of $50 or less per item; computers of $3,500 or less per item; and computer supplies of $250 or less per item, are covered. Tablets and netbooks of $3,500 or less per item are included, but eReaders are not. The period begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, August 3, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday night, August 5.

            [PRINCEVILLE] Princeville leaders say the town is in deep financial trouble, so much so that Edgecombe County moved to shut off the water of 200 Princeville residents. The town has been notified that it owes over $300,000 on a Water and Sewer Fund loan, and could be in default. Town commissioners call the financial situation “critical.” Revamping Princeville’s accounting records is seen as a step, by town leaders, towards improving the situation.

            [GREENSBORO] For the third straight month, North Carolina’s unemployment rate remained stagnant at 9.4 in the month of June. Nationally, the jobless rate is at 8.2 percent, making North Carolina’s rate the third highest in the nation. Experts say they expect more job growth in the state for the rest of the year.



by Cash Michaels


            He’s a five-time NBA/ABA all-star, having played for the Carolina Cougars in the early 1970’s, scoring at will, and giving “Dr. J” Julius Erving fits on defense every time they faced off.
            He is also one of the most coveted hoop stars in Arizona State University Sun Devils history, the former 6’5” guard/forward having his #32 jersey retired to the rafters there in 2010.
            But the honor that “Pogo” Joe Caldwell displays with the greatest pride from his extraordinary career in collegiate and professional basketball is the gold medal he brought home from the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
            So he knows, firsthand, how the US Olympic men’s basketball team, in addition to all of the other American athletes, feel as the Games of the XXX Olympiad get underway in London, England.
            Caldwell, 71 and residing in Arizona, says even for the professional basketball players there, there is a tremendous sense of pride and honor in knowing that you are representing your country on the giant world stage, and that you are competing against the best athletes in the world.
            After standing on the Olympic stage in Tokyo with his teammates, receiving the gold medal around his neck, Pogo Joe says after their victory, there was no feeling like it.
            “As young men, all we wanted to do was win the gold,” he says.
            And yes, in case you were wondering, Caldwell’s Olympic gold medal is indeed solid gold.
            Having grown up a poor black boy in Texas city, Texas, Joseph Louis Caldwell, nicknamed “Pogo Joe” because of his tremendous ability to leap so high off the ground, was now part of a proud legacy of US Olympic champions in 1964. So much so that his mother kept his gold medal with pride until she died, and his father, who was always tough with Joe, even had to admit that his son achieved something he never dreamed of.
            Especially after Joe went to the White House, and shook hands with another Texas native, President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
            “Everybody’s got to be on the same page,” Caldwell says now regarding the current US Olympics men team, featuring NBA stars Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Kevin Durant; and coached, once again by Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski.
            Pogo Joe says when, at age 23, he was chosen the first of the final 12 from a list of 100 great college basketball players like Willis Reed and Cazzie Russell, to play for the United States, “There was simply no feeling like it.”
            Caldwell’s team then was significant because it was one of the last to feature primarily college stars, in contrast to the NBA-dominated “Dream Team” US Olympic men’s basketball teams that have been in vogue since 1992, featuring superstar future Hall of Famers like North Carolina native Michael Jordan, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird.
            Caldwell’s 1964 US Olympic team, which it had no pro players (that wouldn’t be allowed to until a 1989 change of international rules), didn’t do too badly in the future NBA superstar category either. UNC Tar Heel player Larry Brown was a top scorer; as was future NY Knicks star Bill Bradley; Duke University’s Jeff Mullins; and UCLA’s Walt Hazzard.
            “We were the originally Dream Team,” he says.
            They won all nine of their Olympic contests in Tokyo convincingly, finishing off top favorite (and USA arch-enemy) the now defunct Soviet Union, 73-59.
            So important was the Olympic victory over the Soviets during what was the “Cold War” period in US-Soviet relations, that military personnel held the victory as a great symbol of pride to them.
            Historically, it was the US Olympic men’s basketball team’s sixth straight Olympic gold medal, and their 46th straight win.
            Caldwell would be drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1964 after he brought the gold home from Tokyo. He would later play for the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks, and then make history by being one of the first NBA players to leave to play for the fledgling ABA, signing one of the first big contracts ever in 1970 with the Carolina Cougars, which played in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. Caldwell and his family lived in Greensboro from 1970 -74.
            It was only after the Cougars moved to St. Louis, and changed it name, was Caldwell “indefinitely” suspended in a contract dispute that ultimately forced him out of the game that he loved.
            But despite all of the hardship of his professional basketball days, the heartwarming glory of Caldwell’s Olympic gold medal days are what still put a bright, prideful smile on his face.
            Sometimes he’ll just take the mark of singular history, put it around his neck, and visit a restaurant or Sun Devils game. People immediately recognize their native son, and greet Caldwell with hearty handshakes, and heartfelt hugs.
            Pogo Joe’s triumphant college basketball career made him a living legend in Arizona.
            But his Olympic gold medal made the living legend a champion of history, something Caldwell says he’ll cherish the rest of his life.


By Cash Michaels


            As of July 25, 2012, there were 6,306,529 registered voters in North Carolina, according to the state Board of Elections.
            But will all of them be allowed to cast an unfettered ballot in the Nov. 6th presidential election?
            Not if they aren’t properly registered in the correct precinct. And that’s why voting officials and civil rights activists are urging registered voters to double-check now, long before the November elections, to make sure that with the new redistricting maps went into effect this year, you are still residing in the same voting district, and are still assigned to the same voting precinct you voted in since the 2008 elections if you haven’t moved.
            The new maps split districts and precincts, something many voters didn’t realize when they voted in the May primaries. In many cases, people were sent to their proper new voting precincts. But in situations where voting officials weren’t sure, voters were required to cast provisional ballots, which were kept separate from all other ballots.
            Those provisional ballots were checked later, and validated only if the elections board could confirm the voter’s status for that district.
            That means not all of those provisional ballots cast were validated.
            Checking your status now is key, observers say, because if you don’t live in the same voting district or precinct as you did even six months ago, you could have a problem come Election Day.
            There currently is no photo voter identification required in North Carolina, but that doesn’t mean voters won’t face hurdles if their registration isn’t in order.
            According to the NC Board of Elections, to be registered to vote in North Carolina, a person:
                      - Must be a U.S. citizen.
             - Must be a resident of North Carolina.
             - Prior to voting, must be a resident of the county for at least 30 days prior to Election Day.
             - Must be at least 18 years old or will be 18 by the date of the next general election.
             - Must rescind any previous registration in another county or state.
             - If previously convicted of a felony, the person’s citizenship rights must be restored (must not be serving an active sentence, including probation or parole).
               The deadline to be properly registered to vote in your county of residence is 25 days before Election Day.
                While there are a variety of places where one can properly register (public libraries, county NC Dept. of Motor Vehicle offices, disability services agencies, public assistance agencies, etc.), checking one’s voter registration occurs only at your county Board of Elections office, or online per the NC Board of Elections website at https://www.ncsbe.gov/VoterLookup.aspx.
                Online, the NC Board of Elections page is titled, “Voter Lookup,” and it allows you to get your most recent voter information after entering your first and last name, your birth date and county of residence.
                You can also check the status of your absentee ballot if you submitted one, or your provisional ballot if you cast one at the polls on Election Day.
                If you have indeed recently moved out of the county or voting district you once resided in, or intend to be living elsewhere in North Carolina 25 days prior to the November 6th elections, then you must change your voter registration status by signed written notice to your county Board of Elections. Read more about this at http://www.ncsbe.gov/content.aspx?id=24.
               For more information, call the NC Board of Elections at 919-733-7173

Special to The Carolinian

[Editor's note - The Carolinian will be exclusively covering this historic three-day summit of top 20th century civil rights leaders. Look for our reports next week]

From July 29 through August 1, 2012 approximately 30 leaders of the defining justice movements of the 20th century will gather in Greensboro, North Carolina, to lay the groundwork for the creation of a National Council of Elders. These Elders from 20th century justice movements will review the critical moral and spiritual issues confronting the nation with the express purpose of sharing their experience and expertise with leaders of 21st century justice movements.

“This is an historic occasion,” says Dr. Zoharah Simmons, a member of the Elder’s Organizing Committee, “and it is happening in an historic place. For the first time in our nation’s history, leaders of justice movements from the past century are organizing to bring our collective wisdom and experience to bear on the crises confronting our nation and to offer our support to those who are leading the justice movements of the present century.”

For the Elders, Greensboro represents “a sacred space” in the history of the Civil Rights movement. During their meeting they will gather for a moment of silence at the memorial to the four young African Americans who refused to give up their “whites only” seats at a Woolworth lunch counter in 1960. Their action quickly captured the imaginations of thousands of black and white Americans and the “sit in” movement they launched that day led to the desegregation of the entire Woolworth chain and over time to the 1964 Civil Rights Legislation that banned all forms of racial segregation in this nation.

"For me and many like me," states Bernice Johnson Reagon, Greensboro represents the leadership of young people who create actions challenging evil within our communities. Greensboro then also represents elders who joined and supported the Movement. It called my name in Southwest Georgia. Today, as elders in a new century, we come to this place hosted by local leaders with the intention of offering whatever gifts we have to extend that line, ‘We who believe in Freedom cannot rest...’"

It is very clear that the 20th century leaders who are gathering in Greensboro have a combination of wisdom and experience that will be useful to 21st century activists. They are veteran leaders of the justice movements that shaped their century: Civil Rights, Women’s, Peace, Nuclear Disarmament, Environmental, Gay and Lesbian, Immigrant Justice, Native American Rights, labor rights and other nation changing movements of the last 60 years.

Those who have already accepted the invitation to join the Council of Elders include and are attending the gathering in Greensboro: 

Rev. Charles and Shirley Sherrod,  prominent civil rights and land collective activists, leaders of SNCC, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and co-founders of New Communities, a collective farm in Southwest Georgia. Danny Glover,  actor, film director, a civil rights leader and political activist, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war and the Bush administration, active supporter of various humanitarian and political causes. Fr. Louis Vitale, a Franciscan priest, co-founder of Nevada Desert Experience, and lifelong civil rights activist who has engaged in civil disobedience for nearly four decades in pursuit of peace and justice. Dorothy Cotton, civil rights activist, a leader of the SCLC, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who created citizenship classes throughout the south, an organizer of the 1963 Birmingham Movement and Children’s Crusade. Gloria House, professor, poet, human rights activist, a SNCC field secretary in Lowndes County, Ala., a leader in African American community development and Third World solidarity causes. Chokwe Lumumba, activist, organizer, human rights advocate, city councilman, Jackson, MS, an attorney who represented poor people and political activists, defended individuals and groups whose human rights have been violated, opposed the death penalty and represented individuals sentenced to death. Gus Newport, former Mayor of Berkeley, CA., co-chair of the U.S. Peace Council, a grassroots community organizer focused on peace and justice issues, public policy, leadership development transforming devastated neighborhoods in Boston and New Orleans. Ron Scott, a social justice activist in Detroit, host American Black Journal, a member of Michigan’s Democratic State Central Committee and the Coalition Against Police Brutality and Peace Zones for Life. Suzanne Pharr, organizer, political strategist, founded Women’s Project in Arkansas, 1981, a co-founder of Southerners on New Ground, 1984, director of the Highlander Center 1999-2004, and author of Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism, and In the Time of the Right: Reflections on Liberation.



This Friday Raleigh teen Dynasty Winters will get the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama in Washington, DC as part of weeklong activities with American Legion’s Girls Nation. Ms. Winters and Devin Burch, both rising seniors at Southeast Raleigh High School, graduated from the American Legion Auxiliary Tar Heel Girls State Program at closing exercises held Saturday, June 16, 2012, at Catawba College in Salisbury, NC.  The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 157 and Charles T. Norwood American Legion Post 157, both of Raleigh, co-sponsored the girls to attend.  

The Girls State Program is a highly acclaimed youth leadership development program conducted every summer in every state across the nation for young women who have exemplified outstanding character traits and scholastic ability. The two top performers from each state’s program are selected to participate in the Girls Nation Program held later in the summer in Washington, DC. Ms. Winters was one of the top two performers at this year’s Tar Heel Girls State event and traveled to Washington as a ”Senator” representing North Carolina.

While in the nation’s capital she will participate in a weeklong immersive, and highly valued learning experience. Activities will include running for office, electing a mock U.S. Girls Nation President, campaigning for the passage of mock legislation, and meeting with several of our national government leaders. The highlight of the week includes a visit to the White House, where, traditionally, the young ladies visit with the President of the United States.

According to the American Legion’s published information, American Legion Boys State and American Legion Auxiliary Girls State are the premier programs for teaching how government works while developing leadership skills & an appreciation for your rights as a citizen.

By Cash Michaels

            THE SUMMER OLYMPICS ARE HERE - From now until August 12th, all of the pomp, ceremony and excitement of the 2012 Summer Olympics will unfold on our TV screens from London. We wish out American teams all the best, and hope that they bring back the gold. We could all use the uplift.
            And please US Men’s Olympic Basketball team, behave yourselves! Your representing your country, now!
            GOODBYE, SHERMAN - Must acknowledge the passing this week of one of the great comic talents ever, Sherman Hemsley, known best as black businessman "George Jefferson" in the CBS '70 sitcom, "The Jeffersons," which was originally a spinoff of the classic hit, "All in the Family." Hemsley later went on to star in the NBC sitcom, "Amen." as Deacon Frye.
              Hemsley was 74 when he was found dead in his El Paso, Texas home this week. Interestingly, Hemsley had no wife and no kids.
A SICK NATION - Once again vicious gunfire has rung out, and high numbers of innocent people have been killed and wounded. It is more than sad, and beyond sickening what happened in Aurora, Colorado last week.
            But what is even sadder is our nation’s reluctance to deal conclusively with the ready availability of guns, assault weapons and ammunition.
            In the African-American community, we know this first-hand, given the numerous shooting deaths in our impoverished inner cities nationwide, especially in major urban centers like New York, Philadelphia, and of course, Chicago.
            To be blunt, the blood of all of this gun violence is on all of our hands.
            Gun advocates are working hard to make sure that this debate goes nowhere. Since the Aurora shootings, they’ve been trying hard to make the issue mental health, instead of the ready availability of semi-automatic weapons with magazines of 100 rounds of firepower (which can be readily procured on the internet with no background check).
            The issue isn’t mental health. People arming themselves to the teeth for some war they can’t wait to fight on the homeland…now THAT’S crazy!
            People stocking up on AK-47s to enforce their drug territory, that’s insane.
            And folks rushing out to buy a gun and ammo right after Barack Obama is elected the first black president of the United States…now THAT’s racist!
            Let’s face it, this country functions on a culture of guns and money. We love our weapons, and the freedom to use them. Somehow, the power to take a life, and hide behind the excuse of “self-defense,” just makes some of us feel all gooey inside.
            Don’t believe me? Just ask George Zimmerman, Lee Harvey Oswald and now, of course, James Holmes.
            Guns and money represent power in our land, the kind of power many of believe GOD entitled us to as American citizens.
            Of course that’s bull, but many of us believe it, and could probably miscontrue a Bible verse or two to back it up.
            The fact of the matter is a good deal of our gun culture is based on race.
            Trust me, a lot of the folks who push hard NOT to restrict firearms are not worried about shooting each other.
            No, they want to protect themselves from “them,” whoever “them” happens to be in their town, state or region.
            And as long as “them” is perceived to be a viable threat, these Second Amendment folks will insist that they have a right to their guns.
            Even when a six-year-old child is murdered in cold blood at a movie theater in Aurora, Col.
            Even when a six-year-old girl is murdered after visiting her congesswoman in an Arizona shopping center.
            And even when a 4-year-old little girl is killed by a driveby stray bullet that pierced the walls of her home here in Durham.
            Yes, ours is a sick nation. Even after this tragedy in Colorado, we apparently aren’t outraged enough to demand the gun laws be toughened.
            Perhaps, if all of a sudden, the sons and daughters of powerful people start killing each other with automatic weapons, then we’ll see some change.
            But until then…the blood of all of these shootings will always be on all of our hands.
            THE “O” STRATEGY - It’s uncanny. President Barack Obama is a better president when he’s a candidate, than when he’s a president.
            Without a campaign, Barack Obama is nice, wholesome, willing to work with everyone, and take a lot of unnecessary gruff from anyone, just to show that he’s here for all of America.
            But with a campaign, Barack Obama is a shrew, coldblooded competitor who gives as good as he gets when it comes to hardball politics. I think Hillary Clinton can testify to that, and I know Willard Mitt Romney is still smarting from his whole Bain Capital/I-want-to-keep-my-taxes-a-secret episode.
            It’s no secret which one is my favorite.
            Don’t get me wrong…the fact that this president looks for opportunities to bring people together for a common cause is a good thing. My problem has been - it’s been proven - that when people aren’t really interested in working together, and actually tell you that to your face (or at least tell the rest of the world via a press conference), then take that message, and move forward without them with all deliberate speed.
            That’s the beauty of watching Obama in campaign mode. There’s no room for Republicans in that setting. The objective is to win, because you know you can do a better job for the people of this nation.
            And the more junk they talk about you and your policies, the more you make them pay when election time comes.
            So couple Barack Obama’s drive with the extraordinary brain trust he has around him, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has his hands full for sure, as proven by his lackluster response to the president’s aggressive campaign  of defining him as a rich guy who is spectacularly out of touch with the America people.
            The “O” strategy is to put Romney in a box so that no matter which direction he tries to go, he runs smack into a question about his past and ethics.
            And what helps the “O” strategy along is that Romney’s Republican base is really not all that enthused with the former Massachusetts governor, thanks to his moderate-to-liberal past. So when they do defend Mitt for some of the stupid stuff from his past, they sound awfully half-hearted.
            Indeed, the only reason why they defend Romney at all, besides how bad it looks if they didn’t, is that Republican Party hates Barack Obama so, so much, and want him out of the White House so, so bad.
            No question that hate is such a powerful emotion, it can make things happen. But hate also makes you make mistakes because you can’t see the forest for the trees.
            The Obama campaign hopes to capitalize on those mistakes. Keep in mind that they’ve proven that they are more than capable of doing exactly that, giving the president the opportunity to eek out a slim victory this November.
            We’ll see.
SUPPORT THE W-10 PARDON PROJECT - Support is slowly but surely building for the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project from not only across the nation, but around the world.
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  445 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.

Obama Needs Another Record Black Turnout to Win
By George E. Curry
NNPA Editor-in-Chief

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – If Black voter turnout reverts to the level it was before Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in 2008, the nation’s first Black president will have a difficult time winning a second term in the White House, concludes a National Urban League report released Monday.
The report, “The Hidden Swing Voters: Impact of African-Americans in 2012,” was written by Madura Wijewarden and Valerie Wilson of the National Urban League Policy Institute based in Washington.
The report observed, “In 2012, if the African-American voter turnout rate in every state declines to 60%, which was the national voter turnout rate for African-Americans in 2004, then we estimate:
  • “President Barack Obama will not win North Carolina – a decline in African-American turnout will lead to a loss of 63,706 votes which is 4.5 times the 2008 margin of victory.
  • “President Barack Obama will have difficulty winning Ohio and Virginia – lower African-American turnout will lead to a loss of almost a quarter of the margin of victory in 2008.”
President Obama may have difficulty matching the record Black turnout of 2008.
“Some 2.4 million more African-Americans voted in 2008 compared to 2004,” the National urban League Report found. “This was a 16% increase in African-Americans who voted to bring the total to 16.67 million voters.”
And that increase was reflected across various age groups.
“African-Americans between 18 to 44 years old had higher turnout rates than their white (non-Hispanic) counterparts – 6 points higher for 18 to 25 year olds and 1.9 points higher for 26 to 44 year olds,” the report stated. “This was the first time any race/ethnic group had surpassed the white (non-Hispanic) turnout.”
In addition, the report found: “The number of African-Americans who voted grew by 16.4% between 2004 and 2008 – this was an additional 2.4 million African-American voters. This was 2.11 times the rate of growth in the African-American citizen, over 18 years population.”
African-Americans clearly made a difference in North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana and Florida.
“The 2008 victory by then-Senator Barack Obama in North Carolina was primarily due to the growth in African-American voters in that state,” the report said. “The number of additional African-Americans who voted in North Carolina in 2008 compared to 2004 was nearly nine times the margin of victory in North Carolina – an additional 127,000 African-Americans voted and the margin of victory was 14,177.”
The National Urban League study estimated that if John McCain had received an additional 2 points in support from African-Americans in North Carolina, he would have defeated Obama, a lesson that is apparently not lost on Mitt Romney, who has begun courting the African-American vote.
Growth in the Black vote between 2004 and 2008 in Virginia was nearly equal to Obama’s margin of victory there in 2008. And in Indiana and Florida, African-American growth over that same period represented nearly 80 percent of the margin of victory in those states in 2008, according to the report.
The progress of 2008 could be undermined if efforts to dilute the Black vote are successful, the report said.
“Efforts by several states to introduce voter identification requirements and limitations on early and postal voting are casting doubts on whether the diverse electorate of 2008 will be maintained, let alone expanded,” it stated. “The stability and legitimacy of the republican form of government depends more on achieving that expansion of the electoral franchise than anything else. This makes 2012 a crucial election.”
Even though phenomenal growth has been achieved in Black voter turnout, voter registration has not kept pace with that progress.
The 69.7 percent Black voter registration rate in 2008 was 3.8 percent lower than the rate for Whites. But the turnout rate for African-Americans was only 1.4 points lower than Whites. If the Black registration rate of 69.7 percent in 2008 can be increased to 78.3 percent –the same rate as for African-Americans in Maryland – and the turnout remains the same as it was in 2008, an additional 3 million African-American voters can be gained this year, according to projections in the National Urban League report.
Getting Blacks registered is half the battle because once they sign up, they are more likely to vote (92.8 percent) than Whites (90 percent) or Latinos (84 percent).
Like Bill Clinton before him, Obama became president without winning a majority of the White vote. CNN exit polls in 2008 showed Republican candidate John McCain holding a 54 percent to 45 percent edge over then-Senator Obama among White voters.
The November presidential election will pit Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, against Mitt Romney, the first Mormon to win the nomination of a major party for president.
The Urban League report observed, “This expansion of access to the highest office in the land to different racial, ethnic and religious minorities through leadership of both political parties is a cause for celebration.”
For Blacks to celebrate again, however, they will have to match or exceed the enthusiasm generated in 2008 by the election of the nation’s first African-American president.
As the report reminded readers, “This was perhaps the first time in the history of the world that a people had popularly elected a member of a racial minority as their head of state with executive authority.”


                                             REP. WILLIAM WAINWRIGHT

       The deputy Democratic minority leader of the NC House, state Representative William Wainwright, died Tuesday evening after a long illness.
        He was 64.
        Published reports indicate that Wainwright had been suffering from an illness for the past year. Recently, Wainwright has to be admitted to hospice care.
        Wainwright, who served 11 terms in the NC House and formerly served as House speaker pro tem, represented the 12th District of Craven and Lenoir counties. He lived in Havelock, and was a minister. Wainwright was funeralized and buried last Saturday, with bGov. Beverly Perdue, and colleagues from the NC General Assembly, in attendance.
         House Democratic Minority Leader Joe Hackney said, "William Wainwright conducted his business at the General Assembly with as much passion as anyone I encountered during my time in office. He was a talented negotiator motivated only by what was best for the people of his district. He was speaker pro tem during my four years as speaker and deputy minority leader for our caucus for the past two years, but we have been friends for much longer. I will miss him.”

By Cash Michaels

            Editor’s note - There is no question that the false prosecution forty years of the nine young black men and one white woman who would become widely known as 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.
 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. Three have since died.
Today, forty years later, the Wilmington Ten and their families seek individual pardons of innocence from the State of North Carolina for crimes they didn’t commit. But even pardons cannot erase the pain and struggle they’ve all endured.
In part 2 of this three-part series, we look at the lives of Connie Tindall, Marvin Patrick, and James “Bun” McKoy.

Young Connie Tindall was an all-star high school football champion in Wilmington who dreamed of growing up to play Sunday afternoons in the NFL one day. At age 20, Tindall had the skill, the talent and the ambition. All he needed was the chance to prove himself.
But the Wilmington Ten episode changed all of that.
Tindall, whose father was a longshoreman, was looking for work while still attending school. The unjust way he saw black students being treated in the New Hanover county Public School System after it closed all-black Williston High in 1968, compelled Tindall to get involved with the movement for educational equality 1971.
It wasn’t long before Connie became a fiery spokesman for the black student cause headquartered at Gregory Congregational United Church of Christ, located in Wilmington’s black community.
Tindall shaped the black student message, and became their face in the media. Even after UCC Rev. Benjamin Chavis took over leadership in February 1971, Tindall continued to help lead and speak out amid the building racial tensions that saw violence in the streets, and police reluctance to do anything about it.
Apparently the authorities made note of Tindall, however, because a year after the firebombing of Mike’s Grocery near Gregory Church, Tindall was yanked out of bed late at night in his parents’ home, arrested and charged with conspiracy in connection with the grocery store incident.
“We have a warrant for your son’s arrest,” Tindall recalls the police telling his shocked parents, remembering how they had the house surrounded.
The young man was taken from the house to the street, and handcuffed, as his bewildered parents watch.
Tindall knew the arrest and charges were bogus, because on the night of the fire, he was across town in a club called the Ponderosa, celebrating his birthday with several friends.
Tindall admits that before the Wilmington Ten episode, he had a “few scraps” with the law - things that teenagers normally got in trouble for. But nothing of the magnitude of what he was being charged with now - conspiracy in connection with the firebombing and the sniper fire aimed at firefighters.
When the first trial in June 1972 was cut short and declared a mistrial, Tindall says there was no question in his mind that he and the other members of the Wilmington Ten would be hung out to dry. There were ten blacks and two whites on the first jury. When the case began again on Sept. 11, 1972, the new jury was now ten whites and two blacks.
Tindall said the prosecutor, Jay Stroud, was “deranged,” especially in how he “wined and dined” witnesses like Allen Hall to lie on the stand.
Tindall’s family attended the trial, distraught at what they were seeing. But they also supportive of their son, telling him, “We believe in you.”
Tindall was convicted and sentenced to 31 years in prison.
It hit him and his family hard, he says, but they remained supportive during his incarceration.
“Prison was just another way of life,” he recalls. “Same things went on in the streets, went on there.”
Tindall kept the faith that even if it took ten or twenty years, the truth would come out. He said that the whole ordeal was meant to destroy him, but he refused to allow that to happen, and held his head up high.
His family came to see him often in prison, and encouraged Tindall to stay strong.
When Tindall finally left prison on early release after almost five years, his return to Wilmington was met with no job (or least no job he could keep past one week).
Fortunately, because Tindall’s father is a longshoreman, he’s able to work with him.
But beyond that, some people in the community continued to shun Tindall, black people, and he admits that it hurt. It took several years before living in Wilmington became “bearable,” primarily because many believed that he was guilty.
Tindall’s future prospects for personal success were dim as long as he stayed in Wilmington. He says had the Wilmington Ten never happened, he “would have been a beast” as an NFL defensive back.
Tindall refused to leave Wilmington, despite the difficulty and heartache, because the port city was his home.
In recent years, Tindall has faced health challenges, but he continues to strive toward the day that Gov. Perdue declares he and the other nine members of the Wilmington Ten receive pardons of actual innocence.
Tindall still harbors some anger for how his life was ruined, how his dreams were destroyed, all because of a false persecution, and prosecution by the state of North Carolina.
“If you want to do something for me, then pay me for those 4 ½ to five years I sat up in that penitentiary for nothing,” he demands. “Vindicate me.”
Tindall concluded by asking, “Why us?”

                                    MARVIN PATRICK

At 60 years of age, Marvin Patrick has suffered a stroke and struggles to get around on a cane.
Looking back over the past 40 years, Patrick says being arrested as part of the Wilmington Ten lost him the opportunity of being unionized with the longshoremen, like his father.  At the age of 20, Patrick had already worked on the docks, and even served a short stint in the US Army.
In 1971, Patrick got involved in the black student movement at Gregory Church because he deeply believed in a quality education, and that included African-Americans learning about their history and culture. That was being taken away from them, and Rev. Ben Chavis, who Patrick was close with, was leading them in a constructive, yet defiant manner, to get the gains that they lost, back in the aftermath of the closing of Williston High School.
In an ironic twist a year after the firebombing of Mike’s Grocery, word gets out that the authorities are arresting various students who were at Gregory Church. Rev. Ben Chavis, the movement leader, has also been arrested, and is being held. When Patrick goes down to see his friend, he is arrested too, and charged with conspiracy.
When the trials came, Patrick didn’t want his mother to attend. He knew how heavy a burden the whole ordeal had been for her and his father, and he wanted to spare them as much as possible. “I didn’t want to put no pressure on her,” he says. “She knew in her heart that her son was innocent.
Patrick was convicted along with the rest of the Wilmington Ten at age 21, and sentenced to prison for 29 years. He credits the Lord with helping him to survive Odom Farms Prison in Northhampton County. The fact that several of the ten were sent to prison together meant they were able to be supportive of one another.
Because of the distance from Wilmington, the visits from family were fewer than Patrick had hoped for, but when they did come, they lifted his spirits.
Thanks to the case beginning to fall apart in the mid-1970’s, Patrick leaves prison early, and comes back to Wilmington. But when he did, “even black folks acted funny.”
Patrick’s association with the Wilmington Ten makes keeping a job difficult.  After a while, he’s forced to lie to get, and keep a job.
He’s treated badly even in church, where members believe that the Wilmington Ten were guilty.
Through the years, Patrick worked as long as he could, until he had a stroke over a year ago.
As for what he would say to the governor regarding why he feels that he is deserving of a pardon of innocence,” Patrick said, “Ma’am, my name is Marvin Patrick, and I plead innocent to these charges.”

                                                JAMES “BUN” MCKOY

What has happened to his life because of the Wilmington Ten episode brings tears to the eyes of James “Bun” McKoy, age 59.
At 18, McKoy played bass guitar in bands, particularly on Carolina Beach, where he played with whites at supper clubs. He wanted to play professionally. “I just wanted to be the entertainer.” The youngest of four, McKoy graduated from Hoggard High School in 1971, amid the strife and black student protests.
McKoy joined the protests, but says, unlike many of the others, he “didn’t think much” of their new leader, Rev. Ben Chavis, primarily because music, not activism, was his preoccupation.
So in 1972 when young McKoy was arrested and charged with conspiracy in connection with the Mike’s Grocery bombing, McKoy couldn't fathom why, or how. He and Willie Earl Vereen, a fellow musician, were playing a gig together out of town the night that Mike's Grocery burned.
That means they had plenty of witnesses. But it didn't matter.
Police arrested McKoy at home at 2:30 in the morning, while his stunned mother watched helplessly. McKoy figured the only reason why he was being arrested is because he lived in the neighborhood of Gregory Church.
As the case headed to trial, McKoy’s parents urged him to “Hang in there,” telling the young man to stay strong despite what was very much looking like a stacked deck by prosecutors.
“Why they picked us out is the question,” McKoy says.
He knew the trial would be a farce given what happened during the preliminary hearing when the state’s star witness, Allen Hall, angrily jump off the stand at defense attorney James Ferguson.
McKoy’s family attended the trial, praying and hoping that the jury will see through the prosecutor’s tricks. But in the end, McKoy and the others are convicted.
McKoy was sentenced to 29 years.
He was sent to Odom prison, but knowing that his parents and siblings were praying for him, and with him in spirit, helped McKoy cope.
“One thing [my mother] would say is, “We’re still with you,” he recalls.
McKoy also copes by playing his music, and cutting up. Since several of the other W-Ten defendants were sent to the same prison, they all stick together.
The family comes the long way to visit when they can.
McKoy says though he held out hope that the truth would eventually come out, he is angered by the North Carolina Appellate Courts, which voted to uphold the Wilmington Ten’s convictions.
He feels that the rulings by the NC courts were to, “satisfy some people.” McKoy has more appreciation for the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ultimately overturned the Ten’s convictions.
After McKoy left prison on early release, he didn‘t have too many problems fining work when it came to music. In the interceding years, McKoy has sustained two strokes.
So why does James McKoy believe that he deserves a pardon of innocence from Gov. Perdue? “Because I’m innocent,” he says. “Now read the record!”