Sunday, November 24, 2013



By Cash Michaels
Staff writer

            Last week, NHC District Attorney Ben David and Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous told reporters that the Oct. 25th police shootings of three suspects in the 17th Street Pizza Hut robbery, two of whom were killed, was justified, but NHC NAACP President Deborah Maxwell remains unconvinced, and says the community must move forward with its demands for greater law enforcement accountability through a citizens’ police review board.
            “We respect our law enforcement, but we feel there’s still a need to bring to the table a citizens review board for New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington,” Ms. Maxwell told the Journal Monday.
            David and Chief Evangelous said that WPD officers were “justified” in firing on the three suspects because they did not comply with orders to stop when commanded, and ran towards police.
Though they were armed, the suspects – Tevion Robinson, Ronald Dasaen Roland, who were killed; and Jalani Smith, who was wounded and arrested – never fired at authorities.
Two weeks ago, Ms. Maxwell, along with state NAACP President Rev. William Barber, blasted local law enforcement for a total of five police shootings of black men since October, three of them fatally.
Both NAACP leaders demanded a state investigation into what they called a “pattern of street justice, rather than courthouse justice.”
The State Bureau of Investigations is already probing all of the police shootings in question. The SBI has already determined two NHC Sheriff’s deputies and an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent were justified in the Oct. 13th fatal shooting of Brandon Devonne Smith, after he allegedly fired upon two officers in Creekwood.
The NAACP demanded the public release of police reports; the setting up of an independent local citizens’ police review board; and patience on the part of law enforcement for investigations to be completed before publicly stating that police shootings are justified.
The civil rights group, which issued an open letter two weeks ago, also wants, ““…an immediate meeting convened by the D.A., the Mayor and the Police Chief, to set up a joint community forum with the NAACP within two weeks to hear and respond to concerns about how we might build an atmosphere of trust, transparency and training in our community.”
Thus far, on Monday, Dec 2nd, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Cape Fear Community College, Union Station on Front Street, fifth floor, the city is sponsoring another in a series of a public meetings, this one focusing on the role of education in addressing crime and violence.
It is not, however, the community forum the NHC NAACP asked for.
 “A few years ago we lost our Human Relations Commission,” NHC NAACP Pres. Maxwell said. “People don’t have a voice. The district attorney says a voice is through a grand jury, but that is a process that is intensive, and lengthy.”
            “People need more immediate mediation, or feeling that something is resolved that a citizens review board would bring,” Maxwell added, saying that last year, such a body was indeed proposed at the City Council, but the issue was never pursued.
            President Maxwell also noted that various citizens in the community, not the NHC NAACP, have contacted the Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department, urging an investigation into the recent police shootings, and she supported that action.
            Ms. Maxwell also discussed a recent meeting, which involved herself and two members of the Wilmington City Council, to discuss the NAACP demands.
            Monday night, Maxwell says she was invited to take part in a “needed” meeting of community ministers to discuss the issues surrounding the police shootings.

By Cash Michaels

            One of Monika Johnson-Hostler’s first duties after being sworn-in to serve on the Wake Board of Education on Dec. 3rd is to vote for a new chairman and vice chairman.
            By all indications, Johnson-Hostler seems to support current Chair Keith Sutton, who reportedly will face strong opposition from his other fellow board members, despite racking up an impressive record of accomplishments within the past year.
            Johnson-Hostler, 38, who spoke with The Carolinian prior to news that Sutton would be challenged, says she knows him well, as worked with him in the past, and is looking forward to working with him again, this time as one of two African-Americans on the board.
            “She’s a professional,” Chairman Sutton, who helped to recruit Johnson-Hostler, told The Carolinian Newspaper. “She is an advocate…and she knows how to prepare for presenting her ideas and issues in a very strong way, one that is convincing.”
            “She stands for what she believes in,” Sutton said, adding that Johnson-Hostler also brings, “ …an added aspect of diversity that is certainly needed on the board as being an African-American woman.”           
Johnson-Hostler, the executive director and 16-year veteran of the NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault – a nonprofit statewide advocacy agency for sexual abuse victims – is married to Wake County school teacher, and has an eight-year daughter who is a student in the school system.
            Even though she lives in Southeast Raleigh, Johnson-Hostler, a Democrat, represents part of Southeast, plus Garner and Fuquay-Varina in District 2, where controversial Tea Party favorite John Tedesco was elected from in 2009.
            “I think what the people said was that they were waiting for someone new, someone who was actually sincere in listening to the public, and had a history and a track record of listening to the public,” Johnson-Hostler, who was a psychology major at Fayetteville State University, said.
            Johnson-Hostler won not only because she was a fresh, energetic face that even The News and Observer and The Weekly Independent happily endorsed, but also because of significant, albeit split support for the $810 million school construction bond, which ultimately passed.
            Johnson-Hostler, who says even though public service has been her life, deciding to run for the Wake School Board was a difficult decision she couldn’t have made without first seriously discussing it with her family, indeed has a vision for the type of public school system she feels WCPSS should be.
            “ What I bring to the board is wanting to see more children healthy and productive,” Johnson-Hostler said. “ I bring to the board an understanding of the policy role, which is different from the implementation role. Parents want to understand that process.”
            Johnson-Hostler says she knows that even though Democrats now have a firm grip on the school board majority, translating into divisive partisan politics are a thing of the past, that does not mean that there still won’t be serious disagreements over the formation of policy, and the public should expect that.
            The newest board member is also aware that even though she will be serving in the interest of ensuring that all Wake County public school students receive the best education possible, that being one of two school board members of color, over a school system in which over half the pupils are African-American and Hispanic, also means something.
            “I’m a North Carolina born-and-bred African-American [woman], so me this is huge because I’m raising a black daughter,” Johnson-Hostler said. “So absolutely I’m there to represent the district, I’m there to represent all kids, but it is not lost on me that I’m also a representative in a district [that]  is fifty percent black and brown kids.”
            So Keith and I are just marginally touching the surface of that customer base,” Johnson-Hostler continued. “And I think, if nothing else, it is our job to bring those voices to the table through advisory committees, through small groups, through community hearings in a way that has not happened before.”
            “It behooves us to show our kids that we recognize the importance of who they are in that school system,” Johnson-Hostler said, noting that the last time two African-Americans served on the Wake School Board was right after the county and Raleigh schools systems merged back in the 1970’s.
            Johnson-Hostler says she has met with new Supt. Dr. James Merrill to give him assurances that she is strictly a policymaker and supporter, and will not be “getting in the trenches” of implementation, which is his job.
            Of Keith Sutton’s tenure as chairman for the past year, Johnson-Hostler gives him credit for, “…[taking] the helm[of the school system], and really attempted to calm the waters…and if nothing else, he was able to get the board back on track, of course with other board members. But I think that speaks volumes to leadership. I can only look at that from the outside [presently].”
            Johnson-Hostler says that collaboration and hearing all voices is important to her, but also that “The job of a chairman is to move the board along.”
            Next Tuesday, in perhaps her very first act as a member of the Wake County Board of Education, she will have to vote either for increased collaboration, or for a leader who has proven that he can successfully move the board along.

By Cash Michaels

            If Wake School Board Chairman Keith Sutton is going to lose his job, it’s not going to be without a fight.
            The influential Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association – the grassroots Southeast Raleigh organization whose political endorsements are vigorously sought during election season – caught wind of The Carolinian’s exclusive story that Sutton, the board's only African-American, will be challenged for his chairman’s seat during the board’s Dec. 3rd meeting next week, and has made clear that the current chairman has not only accomplished a lot in the past year, but that they expect him to continue to lead the rebuilding of the embattled Wake School Board in the coming year.
Here is the RWCA statement issued exclusively to The Carolinian:

            The Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association and the Membership Political Action Committee (MPAC) applaud the efforts of the Wake County School Board.  The school board has demonstrated commitment to Wake County residents and its students by implementing policies that ensure that all children in Wake County receive a quality education. 

School Board Chairperson Keith Sutton led the board during a challenging time.  His leadership and collaboration with other Board members yielded outstanding results says RWCA President Dr. Earl Johnson.  During Sutton’s tenure as chairperson, the Wake County School Board:

     - Filled two board vacancies;
     - Passed a balanced budget in a continued fragile economy;
    - Hired a superintendent in a transparent, fair, and open process;
    - Defeated efforts by Wake Commissioners to control school construction and             maintenance of facilities;
    - Obtained community support for passage of an $810 million bond referendum;
   - Continued development and implementation of a new student assignment plan that contained no reassignments for the upcoming school year; and
   - Convened a task force on school and campus safety that produced recommendations for improved security across the school district.
We hope that Sutton will continue to lead the Wake County School Board and look forward to working with him and other board members.

           In reaction, Chairman Keith Sutton told The Carolinian,  "I appreciate the support of this venerable organization and their recognition of the great work that the Wake County Board of Education has accomplished over the past year."  
             Sources have told The Carolinian that as word has spread in churches and other civic organizations that many of the school board’s members want to replace Sutton because they feel he should be more collaborative with them, people are asking, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
            But sources close to the school board say members, while wholehearted agreeing that Chairman Sutton has certainly led them out of the dark, divisive days of Republican partisanship and politically-inspired education policy, many of them feel that a new, more academically oriented direction must be chartered for the board to pursue.
            Wake School Board Vice Chairman Christine Kushner is said to be the most likely challenger to Sutton's seat. She has recently raised her profile in the press, talking extensively about the need for the board to find a solution to the dramatic increase in high poverty schools that four years of Republican policymaking, when the GOP was in charge, has left behind.
            Though none of the board members, except one that The Carolinian contacted for comment, would respond, the one that did said there was resentment that Sutton would hold meetings with Joe Bryan, chairman of the Wake County Commissioners; and other community leaders without inviting other members of the school board to take part.
            That one board member, who asked not to be identified, said they now need  “a different kind of leadership” that involves more members.
            That may make sense to the rest of the board, though Sutton is expected to have at least one, maybe two allies supporting his re-election. But if the RWCA statement is any indication, replacing Sutton as chairman because some board members don’t like his style may not float as a justification for removing him after he’s successfully, if not singlehandedly, lead the Wake School Board to numerous big victories that not even the board’s supporters thought possible.
            For his part, Sutton tells The Carolinian that his colleagues have been involved in many key issues over the past year, including the transparent process of selecting a new superintendent, working jointly with the Wake Commission Board to develop, then push passage of the $810 million school construction bond; filling the vacancies in the wake of the departures of former board members Debra Goldman and Chris Malone; and approval of the new fiscal budget.
            And now that the board’s committee system is up and running again, school board members will have even more opportunity to help shape and impact policy.
            With the swearing in of two new board members on Tuesday, Dec. 3rd, there is expected to be a large audience on-hand at the next board member.
            But there may also be numerous members of the community present, concerned that a school board chairman who, by all measure, has done an outstanding job in the past year, may now be sidelined just because his colleagues allegedly just don’t like his style.


HAPPY THANKSGIVING: If you and yours are among the many who work hard for their money to help provide the basics of life, then I hope that you and your family are enjoying a happy, healthy, blessed and peaceful day of Thanksgiving.
Yes, I know, I know, most of the big department stores are open today ahead of the so-called “Black Friday” to get a jump on enticing you to spend your money for Christmas, hoping that the earlier they get you to run up those bills, the more you will shell out.
For the record, I’m not a big fan of the department stores being open on Thanksgiving Day. The only stores I don’t mind being open then are the grocery stores, and that’s only because you might need something to add to that special Thanksgiving dinner.
But, of course, I don’t have the last word on these subjects.
Bottomline is, no matter what you do, or how you do it for Thanksgiving, I hope that you and your family don’t forget the real reason for the holiday.
No, not that the pilgrims were fattening up the Indians before taking their land from them (though one could certainly argue that point).
No, we have certainly changed the meaning of Thanksgiving since its inception, and that meaning is being genuinely thankful to GOD and Christ for the many, many blessings that have been bestowed upon each and every one of us, and our families.
Trust me, as bad as things are (and Lord knows you could get high blood pressure just thinking about all that’s going on now), they could be much, much worse. If there’s any reason to thank GOD for anything, it’s certainly that we all still have at least one day in life, starting with today, to make things better.
That fact alone should give us all hope.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
SAY WHAT? - I told you once before that today's Black music was in serious trouble. That without the brilliance of artists like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Anita Baker and more, that our music ceases to exist?
Well Sunday night at the 2013 American Music Awards, Justin Timberlake, of all people, wins the Soul/R&B category.
Justin $&^%^&%^ Timberlake!!!!!
Take what I'm about to say verrrrry seriously folks...when we are no longer the best at the music that we created, there is a serious problem!
A very serious problem!
“SCANDAL” HISTORYMAKER – Yes, last week’s episode of “Scandal” on ABC was off the chain. I mean it literally was chock full of so much unexpected stuff – scandalous stuff if you prefer – that by the time it reached the end (Olivia’s long imprisoned mother finally escaping and finding her), you were glad the raucous episode was over because you just couldn’t take anymore.
But last week’s episode was a historymaker of sorts as well.
For the first ever, a television show with a black woman as lead, was also directed by a black woman, and produced by a black woman. In this case, Kerry Washington starred, series creator Shonda Rhimes directed, and filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who made the awardwinning feature film, “Middle of Nowhere,” produced the crazy episode.
Let’s hope this kind of history continues to happen in the future, and forever more.
Way to go, ladies!
SCOTTSBORO BOYS PARDON – The word “pardons” has taken on an extra special meaning for me ever since Gov. Beverly Perdue granted pardons of innocence to the Wilmington Ten on Dec. 31st, 2012. Nine black men and one white woman, falsely accused, tried, convicted and sentenced to prison for crimes they did not commit.
Working hard, in coalition with others, to clear their names for history, was one of the proudest, most meaningful accomplishments of my personal and professional life.
That’s the reason why I find myself celebrating again upon news that the state of Alabama has now issued posthumous pardons for the last of the Scottsboro Boys, nine young black males, falsely accused and convicted of raping two white girls in 1932. It is a shame that it’s taken this long for justice to triumph, but I join others in celebrating the fact that it’s here.
One can only hope that more innocence cases come to light as we head into a new year.
“PARDONS OF INNOCENCE: THE WILMINGTON TEN” – As you know, we are in post-production on the NNPA – CashWorks HD Productions documentary, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” which we’re planning to unveil in Wilmington next February 2014.
All I can tell you now is that it’s coming along nicely, and I can’t wait to finish editing it. I will say this, though…thus far, this film has power, and I haven’t even edited to the half-hour point yet.
We’ll keep you updated, but I promise you that in February 2014, it will be the talk!
You read it here first!
GOODBYE, FATHER MAYER - It was with great, great sadness that the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project announced the death of Father Paul Mayer. We received a report about his Nov. 22nd passing on Saturday, but said nothing until we were able to confirm it with his granddaughter, Shanna. Father Mayer, a prominent activist in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and a prominent leader in the world human rights movement since the 1960's, was also, unbeknownst to many, the author of the 1976 Amnesty International report that first declared the Wilmington Ten "political prisoners of conscience," which sparked a worldwide movement that demanded the W-Ten be pardoned. We had the chance to meet Father Mayer in the summer of 2012 when he came to Greensboro, NC. After he told us about his historic role in the Wilmington Ten case, he allowed us to film an interview with him. Parts of that interview will be seen in the documentary, "Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten" when it premieres in Wilmington on Friday, February 14, 2014. Our deepest condolences go out to the loving family of this fine man, and champion for justice! Thank you for your service to mankind, Father Paul Mayer.
BLACK NAVIVITY – Boy with black films doing gangbusters at the box office lately, this holiday weekend seems like an excellent time to take in one. “Best Man Holiday” is still doing tremendous business, as is “12 Years a Slave.” So this week, add “Black Nativity” to the list. The film is a musical starring Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Tyrese, Forest Whitaker and Jacob Latimore, and of course, it’s about Christmas. Sounds like good family fun, and a blast of good holiday entertainment too. Check it out, and let me know how you like it.
 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 And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” ( 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.


            [RALEIGH] After a brief press conference, the NC NAACP, along with supporters and various faith leaders, delivered a an open letter with hundreds of petition signatures to the offices of Gov. Pat McCrory at the state Capital Tuesday. The letter was a call for the Republican governor to convene a special “Redemption Session” of the NC General Assembly “…to reverse the course on two extremist policies that deny 500,000 poor and working people [Medicaid] healthcare and 170,000 North Carolinians federally-funded unemployment benefits.” Rev. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP, also announced that a Change.Org online petition campaign was being launched, geared to alert the Governor’s Office every time someone signs it. McCrory has already said that he will not call the Republican General Assembly back into special session.

            [GREENSBORO]The unemployment rate in North Carolina for September and October has been steadily declining, according to officials with the NC Dept. of Commerce. In September, the jobless rate was 8.3 percent, and fell significantly in October to 8.0 percent. Over 19,000 people in the state found employment during that two-month period, with the number of unemployed statewide falling by more than 37,000. September numbers were delayed because of the 16-day federal government shutdown.

            [GASTONIA] When the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing in Gastonia last week to gauge how the Affordable Care Act was working in North Carolina, only critics of the ACA were allowed to speak. That did not please protesters demonstrating outside of the hearings, who were openly calling the hearings “a sham,” and demanding that some of their number be allowed to speak, only to be denied. No Democratic congressmembers from Washington attended the proceeding. Republican Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa of California ran the hearing, and Republican Rep. Patrick Henry of the 10th District, where the hearing was held, made remarks. Rep. Issa said the committee was on a “fact-finding” mission, and all of the witnesses who testified were opposed to the ACSA.



            Durham city officials are staying mum on exactly how a 17-year-old police suspect shot himself while supposedly handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser two weeks ago, pending an SBI probe. But this week, Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield indicated that so far, evidence shows that “no police officer fired a weapon” or discharged during the incident. So did the teenage victim, Jesus Huerta, a runaway arrested for trespassing, have a gun with him, and if so, how if he was under arrest? Protesters wanted answers last Friday evening as they demonstrated in front of Durham Police headquarters, with some breaking windows. Two people were arrested in the fray.

            The former accuser in the 2006 Duke lacrosse rape case was convicted of second-degree murder in Durham Superior Court last week. Crystal Mangum, 35, who testified that she stabbed boyfriend Reginald Daye in self-defense during an April 2011 domestic violence incident, was sentenced to a minimum of 14 years and two months, to a maximum of 18 years in prison. Daye died several days after being stabbed in the chest. Before he died, he told investigators that Mangum had stabbed him in the side of the chest.

            Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says he “loves” his job, and wants to keep it, which is why he’s announced that he intends to run for a fourth term. But former Wake Sheriff’s Dept. officer major Willie Rowe believes that serious changes are needed in Harrison’s force, so he retired early to announce to that will run against his former boss come 2014. Rowe, who has served with the Wake Sheriff’s Dept. since the days of the late Sheriff John Baker, says more deputies are needed to increase patrols across the over 800-square miles of Wake County, and more community outreach to young people is also needed.


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