Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Pres. Obama meets with national civil rights leaders Monday about his administration's commitment to fight for voting rights for every American in the aftermath of the US Supreme Court's decision crippling the 1965 Voting Rights Act. [White House Photo]





            [RALEIGH] NC Health Director Dr. Laura Gerald resigned her position this week with the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services. Dr. Gerald, an African-American who had been on the job for the past 18 months, said her in resignation letter, "I acknowledge I have significant differences and disagreements with many of the policy and administrative directions I see unfolding in North Carolina and in the Department of Health and Human Services. These differences are making it increasingly impossible for me to continue to be effective in my current role. Nonetheless, I ultimately believe that we all want to see the state continue to move forward." Dr. Gerald’s resignation was effective immediately. She is a noted pediatrician from Robeson County, and once chaired the Eugenics Compensation Board under Gov. Beverly Perdue.

            [RALEIGH] It may have started as a goodwill gesture, but it ended with critics of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory if he’s in full control of his faculties. Pro-choice advocates were holding a protest vigil across the street from the Governor’s mansion Tuesday afternoon asking the governor not to sign a controversial new law that would further restrict access to abortion services in the state. All of a sudden, from behind the gates of the mansion strides a jacketless Gov. McCrory with a plate of chocolate chip cookies. As four security guards stopped traffic and watched closely, McCrory called one of the protesters over to the middle of the street, handed her the cookies saying, " These are for you. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you.' " Stunned, she took the plate and walked back over to the shocked demonstrators. No one eat the treats, however, and soon took the plate back over to the gate with a note chiding McCrory for not being wiling to speak with them. Some said they felt very insulted by the governor’s gesture.
                   [RALEIGH] After delivering the largest crowd ever of the 13 Moral Monday demonstrations at the state Legislative Building this week, organizers say they are suspending the Raleigh rallies until the NC General Assembly reconvenes next May, and will instead begin a series of regional Moral Monday demonstrations, the first this Monday in the North Carolina mountains, and then later to the North Carolina coast. An estimated 10,000 jammed the streets around the legislature, even though lawmakers had ended the session last Friday. Demonstrators blasted the Republican majority and Gov. Pat McCrory for new laws restricting voting and abortion rights.


            Dr. James Merrill, former the supt. of Virginia Beach City Schools, officially took over as Wake County Public School System superintendent today. Dr. Merrill succeeds retired US Army Brigadier Gen. Tony Tata, who was fired by the Democrat-led board in September of last year after a controversial 18-month tenure. One of Dr. Merrill’s first tasks will be to push county voters to support the over $700 million school bond referendum this fall.

            For the fifth consecutive month, the unemployment rate in Triangle area counties fell slightly, officials say. According to the NC Dept. of Commerce, the seasonal adjusted rate notched down from 7.4 percent in May to 7.2 percent in June. Raleigh and Cary added over 6,000 jobs during the past 12 months, boosting that total to 529,000 employed. Durham and Chapel Hill have paled by comparison, adding only 3,400 jobs during that same period, bringing their total jobs to 286,000.

            A Cary police officer has resigned her job after she was reportedly arrested after blowing a .9 blood alcohol level last Thursday. Raleigh police say Tiffany Dawn Silsbee, who lives in Raleigh, allegedly crashed her car into four vehicles along Boylan Avenue before being stopped and charged with DWI.  A Town of Cary spokesperson says Officer Silsbee resigned from her job the next day.

By Cash Michaels

            If there was any doubt about Republican confidence in staying in power in the NC General Assembly, those doubts were dashed last week when the GOP passed what many observers say is the most restrictive law in the nation governing voter rights.
            The NC NAACP and others had been fighting the prospect of a voter photo ID requirement, something that state House Republicans, and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, said was needed to maintain the integrity of North Carolina’s election system, and combat voter fraud, even though voter fraud in the state has historically been virtually nonexistent.
            Black leaders and Democrats, on the other hand, countered that the bill was just another GOP attempt at voter suppression, aimed specifically at the traditional Democratic base – African-Americans, Hispanics, college students, the elderly and the poor.
            But in an apparent horse trade with House Republicans, the state Senate last week, during the final four days of the legislative session, shocked everyone by introducing a 57-page omnibus elections package that not only included a voter photo ID bill, but also:
                Eliminates 7 days of early voting, same-day voter registration, ”Souls to the Polls” Sunday voting, provisional voting if you’re in the wrong precinct, straight-ticket voting and pre-voter registration of 16 and 17 year olds;

                          Authorizes vigilante poll watchers to challenge a citizen's right to vote in any jurisdiction in the state;

                          Prevents a county from adding one hour to the time for citizens to vote on Election Day if lines get long;

                          Eliminates a requirement that campaign ads must be endorsed by candidates and increases contribution limits to $5,000;

                          Unlimited corporate campaign contributions are now allowed

                         Doesn’t allow college students to use their college ID’s to vote.

Only three of the 57-page omnibus elections measure actually addressed
voter ID’s.
            The Republican-majority NC Senate passed the bill 33-14, then sending it to the GOP-led House, where it passed 74, 41. Gov. McCrory indicated in a press conference afterwards that while he hadn’t read the whole bill, he would sign it into law.
 House Democrats – black and white, were livid.
            “I want you to understand what this bill means to people,” veteran black lawmaker, Rep. H. M. “Mickey” Michaux, told his GOP colleagues. “We have fought for, died for and struggled for our right to vote. You can take these 57 pages of abomination and confine them to the streets of hell for all eternity."
            House Republicans replied that every provision in the elections bill protected North Carolina voters, and streamlined the system, but Democrats weren’t buying it.
            "What does [stopping Souls to the Polls Sunday voting] have to do with voter ID?" asked state Rep. Garland Pierce, chairman of the NC Legislative Black Caucus, reminding all the black churches traditionally bring their congregants by vans to vote after service during these early voting periods. “This is not about voter ID,” Rep. Pierce said. “This is about voter suppression.”
            The state NAACP, which has been leading weekly “Moral Monday” protests attracting tens of thousands of protesters to the state legislative building since April 29th, resulting in 926 arrests thus far, agrees.
            "This latest voting rights attack represents the most comprehensive attack on the right to vote that this state has enacted since the institution of Jim Crow laws in the 19th Century when federal troops pulled out of the South," said North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. "Extremist members of the General Assembly viewed the Supreme Court's ruling [striking down Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act] as once again federal protections being removed, thereby giving them the freedom to undermine and disenfranchise the poor, African Americans, and all people of color."
            The remarks of US Attorney General Eric Holder last week before the National Urban League Conference in Philadelphia, where he vowed that despite the High Court’s crippling of the VRA, the Justice Dept. would still vigorously pursue Texas, and other states where the voting’s rights of African-Americans have been hindered, was welcomed by the NC NAACP.
            "The NC NAACP commends the Department of Justice for taking action to address clear discrimination in Texas,” NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Barber said in a statement. “Just as in Texas, the omnibus bill awaiting signature by our Governor is based on nothing but a bare intent to discriminate against African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, women, students, the poor and other minorities in North Carolina.”
             "If this bill is signed into law, in response to these drastic, immoral, and race-based enactments, the NC NAACP will use every legal, organizing, and communications tool available to uphold and defend both the letter and the spirit of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the North Carolina Constitution, and the U.S. Constitution,” Rev. Barber continued,  “and we will win."

By Cash Michaels

            THE BIG BLACK EYE – Well, it just took six months to do it in, but the Republicans can slap themselves on the back for making it happen. With the exception of the conservative Wall Street Journal, every major newspaper and magazine of note have officially declared North Carolina dead or dying.
            And it only took six months. Amazing!
            From the regressive new tax policy, to a state budget that unmercifully slashes education, to a runaway train of an voter suppression law that not only requires voter photo identification, but literally allows any registered voter of any given North Carolina county to approach another registered voter of that same county, an challenge their right to vote, just to look at them.
            Democrats, may I suggest that you do that to Republicans before they do it to you.
            The national media, from the New York Times to MSNBC, simply can’t believe what’s going on here in North Carolina, and frankly, I don’t blame them. We live here, and we can’t believe how our Republican-led legislature has turned this state on its ears in six short months.
            So now, instead proudly being from the state of North Carolina – something that many of us, despite some problems, were always proud to say – we are literally embarrassed by the brazen grasp for sheer power by the GOP to manhandle almost every aspect of our lives.
            And remember, this was supposed to be the party of less government.
            One thing that has been made very clear to me, though, and that is the role that conservatives’ interpretation of Christianity plays in all of this. And I deliberately emphasize “interpretation of Christianity” because clearly, being a Christian myself, I don’t agree with their views.
            If there is any sign of “helping your fellow man” in North Carolina Republican policy, it only applies to helping your fellow rich man get richer.” Which means if you’re poor and struggling, under the GOP mantra, then there’s something wrong with you, and you should be punished. Thus the denial of Medicaid coverage to over 500,000 North Carolinians; the slashing of unemployment benefits for over 70,000, and the extraordinary restrictions on voting rights for communities of color, young people and the elderly.
            A woman’s right to choose is also severely curtailed.
            All of this is just the tip of the iceberg of the tremendous backwards direction that has virtually destroyed the well-earned reputation of a once progressive Southern state.
            This is why it is so very important for you and yours in the community to continue to support the Black Press. This African-American newspaper is deeply committed to not only reporting to our community, but also standing up strong to speak truth to power in advocating for our community, without apology.
            But we can’t do it without you, seriously. When the Black Press stands up strong, we make a lot of enemies who have tried, and continue to try to shut us up, if not shut us down. Don’t think just because you see a new edition on the newsstands every week, that that means everything is A-OK. To the contrary, the legacy of the Black Press, just like the legacy of the black community, is one of struggle and overcoming. Every day, indeed, every week is a challenge to gather the news and perspective you and the community need.
            Part of the reason why we continue to fight is because we know we’re needed. We know what will happen when we’re gone, and there’s little else standing in the breach to defend our community.
            That’s why we say, while we can say it, “Stand with this black newspaper; stand with the Black Press.” Next to the black church, no other institution in our community has the history of standing strong for all of us.
            Just don’t call on us when you need us. Make us part of your lives and families. Talk about the stories and columns you read in this newspaper. Purchase extra copies for your friends and neighbors. Submit your pictures and articles for publications.
            Now, perhaps more than ever before, make this black newspaper part of your life, support us, and our advertisers, so that we can continue to support, and fight for you.
            VICIOUS ATTACK – Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, has been the epitome of grace and courage in the aftermath of the murder of her child. While she has certainly expressed heartfelt outrage in the aftermath of a Florida jury acquitting the man who took her son from her, she has done so with a dignity that even the president of the United States had to salute.
            And yet, there are those so vicious on the right-wing who would ruthlessly attack those grieving mother. And some of these vultures look just like us.
            Take Crystal Wright, better known online as “Conservative Black Chick.” Just think of conservative Ann Coulter with a half-cooked turkey tan and you get the idea. I had never heard of this woman before, but remarks she’s recently made about Sybrina Fulton have certainly put her on the map.
            After Trayvon’s mother made remarks last week at the National Urban League Conference in Philly about thanking the community for its support of her family and how she will continue to advocate to make sure that what happened her son never happens to anyone else, Conservative Black Chick takes to Twitter with the following messages:
            “Martin family + media, time to move on from this manufactured race war. Or get on w/writing your books.”
            When a white male fan tweets to CBC, “didn't care about Trayvon till she copyrighted his name and made trash cans of money!” a reference to how Ms. Fulton had to legally claim the rights to her son’s image so that t-shirt makers could stop profiting from the tragedy, CBC tweeted back, “Boom. That’s it!”
            It doesn’t get much more coldblooded than that. Conservative Black Chick can now consider herself in the ranks with Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly.
            You may recall, this follows a pattern that conservatives follow consistently.
Children are shot to death in a shooting rampage at school, the right-wing attacks the parents and protect the gun owners.
The families of 9/11 victims lobby Congress for better legislation, the right-wing accuses them of just wanting money and public pity (Ann Coulter was especially vicious on that).
An unarmed black teen is shot to death by a vigilante, and it’s the child’s fault for being a black teen.
They’ll say anything, no matter how hateful, because the right-wing doesn’t want to deal with any issue that they feel gives their opposition strength.
Even if it means hatefully attacking a grieving mother, and dancing on the grave of her murdered son.
I hope one day, when Crystal Wright, aka “Conservative Black Chick” really looks at herself in the mirror, she’ll see who she really is.
A political zealot who feeds off the destruction of others, especially her own.
            JAY-Z AND BELAFONTE –I join with those who have a serious problem with rapper Jay-Z and his criticism of legendary entertainer/civil rights activist Harry Belafonte.
            Belafonte, as is his fashion, criticized Jay-Z and his wife, superstar Beyonce’, for not doing more to help their community.
            A furious Jay-Z struck back in a song on his new CD, calling Mr. Belafonte a “boy,” later saying that he, Jay-Z, is just like Pres. Obama because his very presence is “charity.”
            To call a legend like Harry Belafonte “boy” is so low and ignorant, I can’t even begin to comprehend. I get it that J-Z didn’t like being called out. Guess what? That’s what our elders do in the community when they see us young bucks either doing wrong, or not doing enough of what we should. Belafonte did the same thing former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, and yes, to even Pres. Obama.
            Intelligence and wisdom on Jay-Z’s part would have told him that to get into a rhetorical fight with Harry Belafonte, a man who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and who has been on the cutting edge of social consciousness for half-a-century, would be a losing proposition.
            To make matters worse, Belafonte has more courage than ten Jay-Z’s, and has no fear of speaking his mind. Jay-Z doesn’t realize yet, but the empire he’s built could all be taken away in manner of months.
            I hope these two get to sit down and talk, as Mr. Belafonte has requested. That would require Jay-Z to bury his ego, and realize that part of living is respecting our elders, because they’ve lived the life, and have that wisdom that we so desperately need.
            Wise up, Jay-Z, and watch that “boy” stuff!
             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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