Tuesday, April 30, 2013


        PRAYFUL DISOBEDIENCE - After blocking the NC Senate chambers door in a show of civil disobedience against Republican policies Monday, NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber (center) and 16 others were arrested, and spent the night in the Wake County jail. Barber promises there will be more of the same next week [photo courtesy of the NAACP]
PROTESTING THE LEGISLATURE - While he speaks to the press and followers shortly before going into the NC Legislative Building Monday, Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP, is supported by several ministers and activists. [photo courtesy of the NAACP]

Ben Wrobel
Special to The Carolinian from the NAACP

Seventeen people, including eight ministers, civil rights leaders, and students, were arrested for a prayerful protest at the state legislature in Raleigh on Monday.

They promise to return again next Monday, and again the following week. The protest has already attracted national attention from MSNBC and other news outlets.

The activists were handcuffed and taken to jail while they sang and prayed in front of the locked chamber doors of the North Carolina Senate. The nonviolent civil disobedience was the opening round in a series of protests to focus national attention on what Rev. Dr. William Barber, North Carolina NAACP State President, called “the ideologically driven, extremist, mean-spirited agenda” that has captured both legislative houses and the Governor’s office in North Carolina.

“The decision to engage in civil disobedience is not one we take lightly,” stated Dr. Barber. “But the extremists are acting like the George Wallaces of the 21st century. They are pursuing a cruel, unusual and unconstitutional agenda reminiscent of the Old South. What happens in North Carolina does not stay in North Carolina. It has national implications. North Carolina is ground zero in a national struggle to defend democracy for all.”

 The group arrested Monday was composed of men and women of many different races and backgrounds, with ages ranging from 18 to 74. The ministers included: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II; Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins; Rev. Curtis Gatewood; Rev. Nelson Johnson; Rev. John Mendez; Rev. Maria Palmer; Rev. Larry Read and Rev. Theodore Anthony Spearman. The others included three college professors, two students, and veteran civil rights leaders: Adam Sotak; Dr. Timothy Tyson; Margaretta Belin; Bryan Perlmutter; O’Linda Gillis; Professor Perri Morgan; Molly McDonough; Barbara Zelter; and Bob Zellner, a veteran of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

One of those arrested was an elderly woman in a wheelchair.

Sources say the protesters were deliberately delayed by Capitol Police in being processed at the Hammond Street jail until after 11 p.m. to keep them from appearing on the late evening news.

Republican lawmakers say despite the protests, they are only doing what the voters elected them to do.

 In the first 50 days of the North Carolina legislative session, the Republican-controlled legislature enacted polices that critics say will adversely impact hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians. A recent PPP poll found that a majority of North Carolinians oppose what Rev. Barber calls “an extreme and aggressive agenda.” However, the legislature appears steadfastly committed to acting on it.
This session, the legislature has:
                Rejected funding to expand Medicaid to cover 500,000 North Carolinians without health insurance;
                Rejected more than $700 million in federal funds for unemployment benefits, affecting 170,000 laid off workers;
                Cut the payroll tax credit for over 900,000 poor and working people, while giving a tax break to 23 of the wealthiest people in the state;
                Planned to reduce access to pre-school and kindergarten; and
                Pushing a voter ID bill, in addition to stopping Sunday voting, cutting the early voting period, stopping same-day registration and ending straight-ticket voting, efforts that critics say disenfranchise black and young voters.
“Love and justice demand a witness in the face of this regressive public policy,” stated Rev. Barber. “The noblest sentiment of our constitution and deepest aspirations of our religious traditions summon us in the public square to enact policies that maintain a commitment to the protection of civil and human rights, the common good, the good of the whole, equal protection and justice for all, and the uplift of the poor and marginalized. Anything opposing these principles must be challenged.”

“This much is clear: the Republican-led legislature is standing in the way of progress and passing laws that violate fundamental constitutional rights. As leaders of moral conscience, we must draw the line somewhere. That is what this direct action is all about,” Rev. Barber added.

Critics say the attack on voting rights seen in North Carolina is being mirrored in state legislatures across the country, particularly the South. Legislators are pursuing extremist, regressive agendas, critics say, to block progress by making it harder for people to vote.

“Those most impacted by these policies are seniors, students, people of color and the working poor,” stated Attorney Al McSurely of the North Carolina. “Reverend Barber calls on all people of conscience to hold similar protests and direct actions in cities and states across the country, in solidarity with us in North Carolina.”

On Wednesday, members of the NC Legislative Black Caucus announced that they supported "the return of 1960's style protests" against the "tactics used" by the Republican-controlled leadership.

"Legislative tactics being used by these Tea Party Republicans speaks volumes as to their desire to segment our great state all over again," staid Rep. Garland E. Pierce, chairman of the NCLBC. "To say that this General Assembly continues to traumatize and victimize our citizens is an understatement." 

Reporter Cash Michaels contributed to this report.

Special to The Carolinian Newpaper

The collapse of the housing market has had a tremendously negative impact on the net worth of American families, particularly for communities of color. According to a new Urban Institute Study, Hispanic families lost 44 percent of their wealth between 2007 and 2010 and black families lost 31 percent.

White families, by comparison, lost 11 percent of their wealth.

These estimates of wealth loss reinforce similar striking estimates from an earlier, 2011, study by the Pew Research Center that found the racial wealth gap doubled for African Americans and Latinos relative to whites, during the Great Recession.

“The disproportionate loss of homeownership among people of color is the largest contributor to the startling increase in wealth disparity,” says James H. Carr, a housing finance, banking and urban policy expert; a Distinguished Scholar at the Opportunity Agenda, and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC.

Severely depressed home prices are another contributor. To the extent home prices recover, families that have managed to hold on to their homes will also begin to recover their lost wealth. But due to disproportionate loss of homeownership among people of color, the racial wealth gap is likely to grow further as families that have lost their homes will see no benefit from the recovering home prices.

“Proposals to rebuild the housing finance system going forward must better serve people of color,” Carr says. “In particular, our rebuilt housing system must support the leveraging of current historic low mortgage interest rates and significantly depressed home prices to enable people of color to become homeowners. Most proposals on the table, unfortunately, do not address either a duty to serve borrowers of color or a need to support and promote affordable homeownership. In fact, most proposals to restructure or replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac acknowledge the inadequacy of those recommendations to promote affordable homeownership and suggest that goal should be solely the role of FHA.”

”In essence, those proposals recommend institutionalizing a dual mortgage market in which low-wealth families and borrowers of color are steered to the most expensive and restrictive credit channel to meet their mortgage needs.,” Carr continues. “This is unacceptable and inconsistent with American values of equality of opportunity – dual credit systems are breeding grounds for abusive and predatory lending practices.”

Attracting private capital to the mortgage market in a manner that only increases financial firms’ earnings but fails to increase access and affordability for the American public does not serve a legitimate public purpose.


The single most significant reason for the racial wealth gap prior to the Great Recession was higher homeownership rates enjoyed by non-Hispanic white families, largely as a result of favorable access to mortgage credit. In fact, borrowers of color did not have equal access to the mortgage finance system due to rampant discrimination that was federally endorsed from the 1930s through 1960s and tacitly allowed thereafter through 2007.

“Now is the time,” Carr says, “to finally build a housing finance system that works for all America’s families.”

To find out more about the racial wealth gap and housing, visit www.opportunityagenda.org.


            Five-term state Rep. Deborah Ross announced this week that she is stepping down from her legislative seat to join Triangle Transit as general counsel, beginning June 17th. The Wake County Democrat said she looked forward to “…working to ensure the best transit options are available for all residents of our region…” Rep. Ross said she supports former state Rep. Grier Martin to fill out her term. Ross previously served as executive director of the NC ACLU.

            Emails from the staff of the NC Attorney General’s Office have surfaced this week questioning the legality of the contract approved by the NC Council of State allowing the city of Raleigh to lease the Dorothea Dix property. Last December, a staff attorney expressed “strong misgivings” about the lease, saying that the Council might need to approve certain passages before approving the final version. But, in a rush to get it approved, only one vote was taken. NC Attorney General Roy Cooper, a member of the Council, voted for it. Republican lawmakers are looking to scrap the lease, saying that it cheats the state of the property’s true value. The state Senate has already voted to revoke the lease.

            Jonathan Broyhill, 31, the man Raleigh police say fatally stabbed Democratic fundraiser Jamie Hahn April 22, was released from the hospital this week and formally charged with her first –degree murder. Broyhill could face the death penalty. He is also alleged to have stabbed Mrs. Hahn’s husband, Nation, during that attack in their North Raleigh home. Published reports say Broyhill was the couple’s best man at their wedding a few years ago. He will be held at Central Prison until trial. Investigators allege that Broyhill attacked the Hahns after they discovered that he mismanaged the campaign funds of former Congressman Brad Miller.


            [CHARLOTTE] In two surprising moves this week, Pres. Barack Obama chose Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the new Secretary of Transportation, and veteran NC Congressman Mel Watt [D-NC-12] to head up the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Watt will supervise Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Watt is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and has sponsored groundbreaking legislation dealing with housing during his 20 years in Congress. Charlotte Mayor Foxx has served two terms, and hosted the president last year during the 2012 Democratic National Convention.  Foxx had recently announced that he would not seek a third term as mayor. If confirmed by the US Senate, Mayor Foxx would be one of two Cabinet officials in Pres. Obama’s second-term administration.

            [WILMINGTON] With its opening in North America slated for Friday, the number one movie in the world, “Iron Man 3” is being touted a boon for North Carolina’s economy. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, from when production first began in Wilmington in December 2011, until it wrapped in January 2013, “Iron Man 3,” starring Robert Downey Jr., created 2,039 jobs in the state, and generated almost $180 million in spending. Over 700 businesses in over 85 communities throughout the state benefited. Hollywood relied on North Carolina’s generous tax incentive program for the production, which amounted to $20 million. Republicans in the NC General Assembly now say they want to end that program, calling it “corporate welfare.” The GOP disputes the number of jobs created by television and movie productions in the state.

            [GREENSBORO] The NC Dept. of Labor reported 35 job-related deaths in 2012. But a new study suggests the actual number is much higher. According to the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health calculates the number to be at least three times higher than reported. The group says the state doesn’t count deaths that are vehicle-related, workplace violence or deaths among the self-employed. The group’s report also charges that fines are too small to force businesses to implement greater workplace safety measures.

By Cash Michaels

            The ice may be thawing just a bit between the Democrat-led Wake School Board and the Republican-dominated Wake County Commission Board on the schools ownership, according to Wake School Board Chairman Keith Sutton.
            During an exclusive interview last week on the Power 750-WAUG-AM talk program “Make It Happen,” Sutton as both boards work together to push a much needed $911 million school construction bond referendum for this October, they may be able to negotiate some sort of compromise per the GOP-sponsored bill which passed the state Senate recently which, if it becomes law, would assign ownership and management of all school system properties to the county commission board.
            Currently, school systems own all and manage of all their buildings and properties, even though county commission boards pay for them (school boards have no taxing authority, and thus, must get their funding from the county commissioners).
            In the past, Sutton argued that the school system has more experience in purchasing school properties and managing them. Wake County Republican
Commissioners counter that because they bankroll school system properties, it just makes sense that they own and manage them. The school system would have little to no say.
            “We don’t like that bill,” Chairman Sutton told “Make It Happen” last week, ”but we’re seeing some willingness on the part of the county commissioners that there may be an opportunity to compromise on this bill.”
            Sutton says the school board had “a great joint meeting” two weeks ago to discuss the school bond referendum.
            “I think was the first, perhaps, in a series of olive branches you may see from one side to the other that are being extended to try and work together. I think, at the end of the day, if we’re going to be successful in trying to pass a bond that we have to have, it’s going to take the community seeing both boards working together,” Sutton said.
            “So we’re trying to work through this piece,” Chairman Sutton continued, “and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to come up with some sort of compromise that allows …both organizations to hold onto the things that they feel like they do best.”
Regarding the Republican-sponsored bill, also authored by Sen. Hunt, that would change the Wake School Board election map from nine districts to just seven with two at-large districts covering the county, Chairman Sutton says county commissioners say they had nothing to do with that one. They did not recommend it, they claim.
            Last week during debate on the state Senate floor, Sen. Dan Blue [D-Wake] charged that the measure was racially motivated because Sen. Hunt’s maps essentially moved much of Wake’s black voting population into a single district.
            Hunt denied this.
            But Chairman Sutton agreed with Sen. Blue that the Hunt maps were guilty of “stacking and packing” black voters into a single district, thus improving the probability that Republicans would have an advantage in most other school board districts.
            “[The Wake School Board] did not ask that our maps be redrawn,” Sutton said, noting that they were last redrawn by the then-Republican-led wake School Board in 2011. “The [proposed] districts, as they are drawn, are not compact at all. They look like a gerrymander, similar to the state House and Senate districts.
            Both bills are now in the House.

By Cash Michaels

            JASON COLLINS – Well, well. History was made this week when NBA center Jason Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated article and told the world that he was gay, making it the first time in history that an active athlete on a professional sports team in one of the four major sports, admitted to being so.
            Collins immediately got strong support from LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant, NBA Commissioner David Stern, and ultimately from President Barack Obama, who actually came back to his podium after concluding a press conference Tuesday to say how much he admired Collins for his courage.
            Indeed, whether you agree with Collins or not, it did take courage for him to come out. Many say he didn’t have to. He could have kept his sexual orientation to himself, and only GOD would know.
            Still others, including Collins, say keeping his sexual orientation from the world was like living in a prison, pretending to be someone, or something he wasn’t.
            I don’t think there’s much question as to the controversy about Jason Collins revelation, especially here in the black community, where we’re told that biblical principles tell us GOD created man to be with woman for the purpose of procreation.
            It strikes me, though, that the more we meet and hear from people who are homosexual, the more we learn that many of them are who they are. Collins, for instance, was in an eight-year relationship with a woman, and even engaged to her, only to break it off inexplicably. She had no idea at the time why, and admits to being stunned now that she has learned the truth.
            That tells me that Jason Collins isn’t just wanting to be gay, but that he is, and that it is a natural part of his being. Many Christians rail against the thought that GOD would create men to be with men, and women with women. It doesn’t make sense to those who are strict in their interpretation of GOD’s Word.
            And yet, there he is, a young man of good character who tells us that until now, he has been living a lie.
            So American society has to now learn how to deal with this. The US Supreme Court is due to rule on California’s Proposition Eight which banned same-sex marriages in that state. Just recently we saw NBA basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson stand strong by his son, who has admitted to being gay.
            President Obama made it clear last year that he has “evolved” on the subject, and now supports same-sex marriage, to the chagrin of many a black preacher.
            And now, Jason Collins comes out.
            There are some Christians, like myself, who have always believed, absent any proof that GOD doesn’t create gay people, that in the end, no matter who we are, that our Creator will be the final judge of who we are, and how we behaved as who we are. What two consulting adults do in and with their lives has little to do with me and mine, and as long as it stays that way, then there’s little that they do that is my business.
            Then there are other Christians who believe that they are GOD’s posse here on Earth, and their main mission in life is to make sure that everyone walks, talks, eats and drinks the way “God” would have them to do so.
            Problem with – most of these “christians” usually skip over the part in the Bible that says, What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19),” meaning that we have a lot of fat folks telling other people what to do with their bodies, while all the while they’re two prayers from a heart attack given all of the fat and sugar they gobble up at church dinners.
            And that is the danger in folks judging Jason Collins, or any other member of the gay community.  Some abhor the very idea of same-sex anything, focusing only on the sexual part of it. But they either do not, or refuse to see the hypocrisy in their own lives, given what would certainly be deemed to be sinful in their own behaviors.
            “Homosexuality is not natural,” they say. If true, neither is eating yourself into a gluttonous stupor using as an excuse that GOD loves ALL of you.
            All I’m saying is that those who have been, and continue to be quick to criticize the Jason Collinses of the world, and judge him either sexually or religiously, well guess what? It’s NOT your job! That is GOD’s job, just as He will be judging you, me, Collins and everybody else.
            So let’s be honest. When folks have problems with gay people, they aren’t speaking for GOD, because He is perfectly capable of speaking for himself, and has.
What they are really doing is expressing their fear. FEAR, of what they don’t know, and more importantly, don’t want to know. And they then hide behind their faith to justify their fear.
            Mind you, these are otherwise good people. I am not calling them evil or anything. But fear makes you do and say desperate things. As a result, we have folks accusing gay people of attacking children, and also posturing to takeover the world.
And they have the gall to hide behind their faith to justify their bigotry.
            Don’t like what gay people do with each other? Fine. But you say precious little about what our heterosexual young people are doing with each other. Indeed, all of that “ungodly” music and videos our young folks listen to and watch. If you went after that garbage like you go after gay folks, our kids would be listening to Stevie Wonder instead of Lil Wayne.
            And one more thing – there are many in our community who say that the Jason Collineses of the world have no business claiming that their civil rights as American citizens are being violated. The civil rights movement was about black people and no one else, they say. Gay people have all the rights they need, folks insist.
            Then what was Amendment One – the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage - all about last year? Proposition Eight before the US Supreme Court? If these folks have all the rights they need, then why is it against the law in a majority of US states for them to marry each other?
            And what are we doing to make heterosexual marriages last longer and work better, since we’re such “experts” we just know that same-sex marriages won’t last?
            We need to cut the bull, in my opinion. GOD is the ultimate judge, not you or I. As long as consenting adults are also law abiding, then what they do is between them and GOD.
            Time for the rest of us who pride ourselves as being heterosexual, to get our acts together, and stop being so hypocritical. Like my mama always said, “GOD don’t like ugly!”
            Amen, Mom!
            “42” - Amid all of the toil and trouble of last weekend, I took a well-deserved break, grabbed a free movie ticket from my wife, and went to see “42: The Jackie Robinson Story” starring Chadwick Boseman as the legendary first major league baseball player, and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers who dared to break professional baseball’s color barrier in 1947 by recruiting Robinson from the old Negro Leagues.
            I had heard good things about this film - especially about Harrison Ford’s extraordinary performance as Rickey, which I’ll get back to in a moment - but of course, how many films have I heard “the good word” about before that were ultimately very disappointing?
            But “42” isn’t one of them. This is a fine film, well acted, written and directed. If you have a heart, “42” speaks to it, and gives you hope that one day, America can, and will know better in how to treat its citizens.
            Harrison Ford deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance and Branch Rickey. Chadwick Boseman was superb as Robinson. And the young actress who portrayed Rachel Robinson, Nicole Beharie, was fantastic.
            Written and directed by Brian Helgeland, go see “42.” You won’t be sorry!
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 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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