Tuesday, August 27, 2013





                               NC ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CHERI JUSTICE

By Cash Michaels

Saying that some of the lawsuits now being filed against controversial legislation by the NC General Assembly will eventually come to the NC Supreme Court, NC Associate Justice Cheri Beasley urged the community, and particularly young people, that they “…must care about, understand and know the people serving you on the highest court in the state of North Carolina, because we cannot afford to get it wrong.”
“The work that [the NC Supreme Court does] affects your lives each and every day,” Justice Beasley assured attendees Saturday during a keynote address before the Seventh Annual Wendell-Wake County NAACP Youth Council Banquet in Wendell.
“I thank God today because I know a better day is coming,” Beasley continued, “but in the meantime, in only God’s way, we’re going to go through some things. There are people who are suffering; people who are losing their homes; who don’t have employment…no healthcare, [and] an assault on education systems. We’ve got to care.”
Republicans currently hold the majority on the state Supreme Court.
Beasley, who has been on the state’s High Court since December 2012, did not go express an opinion, which she is prohibited from doing, about any of the controversies involving restrictions on voting or abortion rights that have emanated from the Republican-led state Legislature.
But the state court’s newest justice did make it clear that she, like many, was concerned, and that the NAACP, of which she is a life member, should remain vigilant.
“We need you to be the resources in the community so that other folks won’t get it wrong,” Beasley said.
“There’s too much at stake.”
Justice Beasley praised the youth members of the Wendell-Wake NAACP for their commitment and promise to the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, and Ms. Mary E. Perry, branch youth advisor and former president, for keeping them on track, and involved.
“I know you have school, you have your activities and social lives, but you really have decided that this is the time in your lives that you must be committed to doing what’s right.”
“We are going to hear more from these young people,” Justice Beasley said, adding that they know that “We must keep God first.”
 “They’re bright, and they’re talented,” she continued. It is in times like these that we count on young people to break new ground.”
“We need you,” Justice Beasley said, “we need you now.”
Justice Beasley’s remarks to young African-Americans were considered unique, given that fifty years ago this week, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his now legendary, “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, there were no blacks serving on any Supreme Court in the nation – state or otherwise.
            Indeed in North Carolina’s case, Justice Beasley noted that all five African-Americans who’ve ever served in the state’s 200-year history of High Court are still living – justices Henry Frye, James Wynn, Patricia Timmons-Goodson, G. K. Butterfield, and now, Beasley.
Justice Beasley is the newest member of the state’s High Court. She was appointed by Gov. Beverly Perdue in Dec. 2012 to serve out the remaining term of former Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, which ends in 2014.  If Justice Beasley runs for election next year, she will be mandated to serve only three more eight-year terms, retiring in February 2038.
Prior to Gov. Perdue’s appointment, Beasley served as an Associate Judge on the NC Court of Appeals, where she was elected to in 2008. That made Judge Beasley the only African-American female elected to a statewide office in North Carolina without the benefit of incumbency or appointment of a governor.
            Prior to that, Judge Beasley served for nearly ten years as a District Court judge in the Twelfth Judicial District, originally appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt in 1999.


            [CHARLOTTE] In an effort to keep track of the impact of the new restrictions on voting recently passed by the Republican-led General Assembly, the NC NAACP has announced that it has setup, in association with the Advancement Project of Washington, DC, a voter suppression hotline. The number to call for those voters who need assistance if they run into trouble at the polls during future elections is 1-855 – 664-3487. Lawyers from the Advancement Project will be on the other side taking calls. The NCNAACP said it also has lawyers researching why the Watauga County Board of Elections disqualified Elizabeth City State University student Montravias King from running for City Council, ruling that he was not a resident because he lived in a dorm room. That Republican-led board also removed the early voting site from the ECSU campus. The state Elections Board is scheduled to take up King’s appeal on Sept. 3rd.

            [RICHMOND, VA.] In what experts say is a “rare move,” judges on the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals blasted federal prosecutors in North Carolina Eastern District for withholding exculpatory evidence from defense witnesses. In their ruling, the judges found at least three cases of “discovery abuse,” saying that the cases “raises questions regarding whether the errors are fairly characterized as unintentional.” The judges want the US Attorney’ Office to meet with them about the problems “and discuss improvement of its discovery procedures.” They say if the problems persist, there could be “sanctions or disciplinary options.”

            [DURHAM] Former NC State Rep. Ken Spaulding has announced that he is running for governor in 2016, being Gov. McCrory’s first announced Democratic opponent for re-election. Spaulding, 68, a Durham attorney, is the son of Asa Spaulding, who once served as president of NC Mutual Insurance Co. “The taxpayers and voters are looking for a reasonable alternative to the extremist positions and actions taken by the governor and his legislative majority,” Spaulding, 68, said in a statement. Thus far, only state Attorney General Roy Cooper is seen as also vying for governor in 2016.


            Candidates for Raleigh mayor, City Council and the Wake School Board will take part in a candidates' forum Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. at Martin Street Baptist Church Family Life Center, 1009 East Martin Street in Raleigh. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available. This event is sponsored by the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association, the Voter Education, Phi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alpha Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., NC Black Women’s Empowerment Network and the Raleigh-Apex NAACP.

            The AdvancED school accreditation agency has now closed the books on all complaints against the Wake County Board of Education, saying that it has fixed all concerns, and has become more transparent. The board has satisfied all governance issues that began three years ago when the Republicans took over the majority and the NCNAACP filed the first action. AdvancED later dismissed a complaint by the conservative Wake County Taxpayers Association after Supt. Tony Tata was fired last September. AdvancED even congratulated the now Democrat-led school board for its “significant progress” since it’s February 2011 special review.

            Raleigh City Council members of the council’s Law and Public Safety Committee discussed the incident last weekend when police suddenly stopped a charitable organization from feeding the homeless in Moore Square Park.  Officials say they were only enforcing an ordinance that’s been on the books for sometime. The confusion arose because groups have been able to do so for the past six year without problem. However planned downtown development, in addition to complaints from local businesspeople, have put pressure on officials to deal with the homeless issue. Mayor Nancy McFarlane vowed that a solution would be found to satisfy all parties.

By Cash Michaels

            LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER – After hearing and seeing so much positive talk about, I decided to take time to go see “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” last weekend, starring Forrest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey.
            In my opinion, it is certainly worth the time and attention, with Oscar-worthy performances from not only Whitaker and Winfrey, but an impressive cast.
            The story, as you by now know, is based on a Washington Post story about about White House butler Eugene Allen, who served under eight presidents. The film is loosely based on Allen’s life, with the main character, renamed “Cecil Gaines” and portrayed by Whitaker, being the son of Georgia slaves who runs away, learns how to serve in restaurants and swanky hotels, and finally makes his way to the White House. Gaines lives through various pivotal events in the civil rights movement, and each president he serves deals with them.
            Whitaker gives superb breath and honesty to his role as a negro happy to be a house (n-word), but as he grows older, learns to stand up for his rights, and demand equality.
            Gaines’ eldest son, Louis, ably portrayed by the talented British actor David Oyelowo, helps in that process by seeing things from the outside of the White House, and becoming intimately involved in the civil rights struggle, becoming more militant by the day, and building a wedge between himself and his father. The two are at odds for most of the film, but towards the end, as they both grow older, come back together.
            Oyelowo’s challenge (besides covering his substantial British accent), is to grow up in front of us and mature as a young activist, which he does.
            That leaves some of the heavy lifting to talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, who hadn’t acted for 15 years before taking the role of Gloria Gaines, the wayward wife of Cecil. She smokes, she drinks, she fornicates, and cares nothing for the White House because it takes her man away from home more times than not. And yet, there is a strain of decency and love for family that allows us to embrace Gloria, especially when she faces the challenges of raising her two boys, sending one off to college, and another off to fight in Vietnam.
            The world is changing radically for Cecil and Gloria, but they stick together through it all.
            Winfrey is not a stage-trained actress, and yet, as she did in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated classic, “The Color Purple,” Winfrey delivers such a natural performance that you never see the seams of her acting showing.
            The rest of the actors, with few exceptions, do stellar work, from Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lenny Kravitz as White House butlers, to Robin Williams, Liev Schreiber and Alan Rickman as presidents Eisenhower, Johnson and Reagan respectively.
            And Jane Fonda does a great turn as First Lady Nancy Reagan as well.
            The film was written by Danny Strong, who won Emmy Wards for writing  the HBO movies “Recount,” about the 2000 Florida presidential voting controversy and “Game Change,” about Gov. Sarah Palin’s role in the 2008 presidential race.
            With such strong material and excellent actors, it would take a visionary director, indeed, to pull it all together, and that Lee Daniels does.
            He is the Oscar-nominated director who produced “Monster’s Ball,” which won Halle Berry an Academy Award for Best Actress; and he directed “Precious,” which won two Oscars.
            Daniels loves to dabble with explosive stories, and with “The Butler” (his names was officially added to the title when Warner Bros. caused problems claiming that it had a 1916 film by the same name) he gets plenty of dynamite.
            Daniels recreates all of the fire and passion of the civil rights movement, showing us both sides of the coin – those in the community, like Cecil Gaines, who felt “negroes” were moving too fast; and those like his militant son, Louis, who felt the time had come for justice, no matter the price.
            From the Greyhound bus carrying Freedom Riders being attacked, to the Black Panther Party and the assassination of Dr. King, Daniels helps us relive these traumatic moments in  time with skill and depth. And he puts it all in the context of the Gaines family.
            I enjoyed “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” To me, this was fine and timely moviemaking that will be heard from come Oscar time.
            HOMEBOY MAKES GOOD – Bolton, NC is a small town of 800 folks a few miles from Wilmington, and yet, one of it’s own is on top of the literary world right now. Poet-novelist Jason Mott, an alumnus of UNC – Wilmington, has just released his new novel titled, “The Returned,” and it has become an instant hit.
            The story of a small town called Arcadia, NC, where the dead eight-year-old son of an elderly couple return to them fifty years later alive, Motts book was immediately optioned by actor Brad Pitts production company, and next March, will be an ABC TV series starring Omar Epps (for TV, the book will be renamed “Resurrection.” Don’t ask me what was wrong with “The Returned.”)
            Mott is traveling the country on tour promoting his book, and says though he’s spent over the past 12 years writing poetry and struggling, to have this success is a blessing.
            The book was released this week. We wish this homeboy well. Hear my interview with him next week on my radio show, “Make It Happen,” Thursday at 4 on www.myWAUG.com.
            THE GODFATHER OF SOUL – A new movie about the life of soul singer James Brown is scheduled to start filming in Mississippi soon, and actor Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed Jackie Robinson in the fine film, “42: The Jackie Robinson Story,” is set to play the Godfather of Soul. One of the producers of the film is Rolling Stones’ lead man Mick Jagger, and the director is Tate Taylor, who brought us, “The Help.”
            Let’s see how this will turn out, shall we?
            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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