CHAVIS TO DEMOCRATS: DECIDE
IF YOU WANT ME
by Cash Michaels
In the aftermath of last week’s political firestorm surrounding the nomination of Rev. Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. as executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Chavis, who had his nomination temporarily withdrawn amid false allegations from moderate and conservative Democrats, says he can and will help the party muster up needed votes to win this fall.
But only if the state party can overcome its internal differences and divisions, and unify in asking him to help.
Meanwhile a statewide petition is being circulated to Democrats, asking the NCDP Executive Council to back Chairman Randy Voller in his efforts to recruit Chavis.
In an exclusive interview with The Carolinian and Wilmington Journal newspapers Wednesday, Dr. Chavis said, “It is up to the [NCDP]…” if he is to become executive director.
“I would never try to impose my leadership on anyone or anything.”
Dr. Chavis says Chairman Voller, whom he had known for only a short time since the Wilmington Ten Pardons of Innocence Project and had supported as chair, approached Chavis with the offer to become an interim NCDP executive director. Chavis was moving back home to North Carolina to pursue other opportunities – particularly with helping historically black colleges and universities - but says he was willing to lend his talents and services to the NCDP in what is considered a crucial midterm election year.
But once word got out, it didn’t take long for Chavis to realize that those in the party who opposed the progressive politics of Voller were moving swiftly to block the nomination at all costs.
What specifically surprised Chavis was that contrary to what he expected, there were officers directly under the NCDP chairman who were opposed to his nomination as E.D., and were also working to stop it.
“Some of the people who opposed Voller used this as an opportunity to create their own agenda,” Chavis said. “I thought that when the chairman of the [NC] Democratic Party extended an overture, that his overture was representative of the political will of at least a majority of the officials at the party.”
“I would have never entertained the idea of becoming executive director of the NCDP if I didn’t feel that it was a sincere overture,” Chavis continued, adding that there are progressive, moderate and conservative divisions within the party.
Chavis said Chairman Voller had hoped to unite all factions of the party around a massive voter registration effort, which needed to start immediately in order to generate enough of a statewide base to carry the Democrats to victory in November.
The key was to do what the Obama campaign successfully did in 2008, namely bring new voters into the base. With a tight statewide race between incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and any Republican on the line, and GOP redistricting essentially making almost every Republican-led voting district bulletproof on the state and congressional levels, Chavis said his previous experience at running voter registration campaigns on national, regional and statewide levels, plus his skills communicating with young people through his Hip Hop Action Network with Russell Simmons, was the NCDP’s best hope of taking North Carolina back from the Republicans this year.
Chavis said if you total the number of black, Latino and young potential voters who are not registered in the state, it adds up to approximately one million. Unless the NCDP devises an effective outreach to capture the lion’s share of these unregistered groups, its chances of winning back North Carolina are slim.
Chavis said he was willing to devote himself to that task for his home state, and the NCDP. Given the negative impact on the state since the Republicans took over in 2012, he saw it as an imperative that he does all he can to help turn the tide.
And of key interest to Chavis is working on economic development issues across the state, so that low-wealth communities could grow and prosper.
“My motive was to come to serve the people of North Carolina, to serve institutions of higher learning, and to serve those, heretofore, whose rights have been denied and suppressed,” Chavis said.
But before his plane could touch down at RDU International Airport Tuesday, Feb. 11th, Democrats opposed to Voller’s leadership mobilized a concerted media and online campaign to relitigate not only past allegations of sexual harassment against Chavis from his days as executive director of the NAACP twenty years ago, but also his brief membership in the Nation of Islam subsequently.
On social media sites like Facebook and Blue NC, Democrats identifying themselves as Jewish immediately labeled Chavis as “anti-Semitic” because of his association with NOI leader Min. Louis Farrakhan, who has a history of making inflammatory statements about alleged Jewish mistreatment of blacks.
With the exception of a late interview which aired too late to make a difference, Chavis was not afforded an effective platform or opportunity to answer the charges, and ended up asking Chairman Voller to with draw his nomination, possibly to regroup in 30 days.
Chavis says though there was a settlement of a sexual harassment allegation when he was executive director of the NAACP in 1994, it was a “totally false” allegation, with no admission of guilt.
“We live in a litigious society where sometimes people will try to extort money from an organization or a person by making false allegations,” Chavis insisted. “None of though allegations were ever proven to be true.”
Chavis also vehemently denied charges of anti-Semitism (hating Jewish people), saying that in his many ventures across the country and the world, he works with Jews “almost every day. He adds that his critics would be hardpressed to find any statements by him expressing hatred of Jewish people, because he’s never made any.
Chavis said he hasn’t been a member of the NOI for years, and is a member of Oak Level United Church of Christ in Manson, NC, where the Rev. Leon White is the pastor.
And then this week, Gary Pearce, currently involved in entertainer Clay Aiken's congressional campaign, and former press secretary to Gov. Jim Hunt when Hunt refused to pardon Chavis and the Wilmington Ten in 1978, posted the false assertion that Barack Obama has “disavowed” support from Chavis during his 2008 presidential campaign.
Chavis not only refuted the false allegation (Obama did disavow his former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Min Farrakhan), but added that he and Obama worked together in Chicago when the president was still a community organizer there.
As of press time, Mr. Pearce had not retracted his false allegation, nor apologized for the error.
Chavis what has happened in the past week proves that there is a fear in North Carolina that is not just generated by Republicans, and that’s what has North Carolina “trending backwards.”
“If the [NCDP] wants me to serve [as executive director], I am open to that overture,” Chavis said Wednesday, “but it’s up to them.”
“I’m not going to stand still.”
This week, a statewide petition letter, addressed to the NCDP State Executive Council, and circulated this week by Gracie Galloway, Democratic chairperson of the Eighth Congressional District, not only denounces the attacks on Dr. Chavis, leveled against him in a concerted effort by moderate NC Democratic party members, but challenges those members to own up to the party’s own misdeeds of sexual harassment coverup and criminal corruption by elected officials, before they judge the civil rights leader.
The petition, authored by Galloway, also reasserts the chairman’s right to not only terminate an employee, but then hire a replacement, subject, according to the NCDP’s Plan of Organization, to the approval of the State Executive Council, “…to serve at the pleasure of the state chair.”
Galloway, who is located on Facebook, says she wants Democrats to sign the letter, and send it to Chairman Voller at NC Democratic Party Headquarters.
Galloway calls what happened to Dr. Chavis, “ a travesty.”
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS – 2-20-14
AUTHORITIES PROBE WAKE STUDENT NUDE PHOTOS
Parents are alarmed at news of nude photos of several Wake County high schoolers that have shown up on Instagram and Twitter this week. According to published reports, the photos are of both girls and boys, with at least one photo showing sexual interaction. At presstime, police haven’t made any arrests, but are tracing the links to the pictures. The students are believed to attend Enloe, Athens, Holly Springs, Heritage, Rolesville and Middle Creek high schools. The problem was first discovered by a Wake Forest parent who found a picture of her daughter online. Police are asking parents to talk to their children about the dangers of taking nude photographs, and putting them on the Internet.
WAKE SCHOOL MAKEUP DAYS WON’T CHANGE SCHEDULE MUCH
Wake County school leaders have announced that makeup time for the school days missed due to inclement weather on February 12-14, 2014, will require only the cancellation of Early Release on Friday, March 7, 2014. The district will be able to meet the required 1,025 hours of instruction, by keeping the make-up days already announced, changing the March 7 early release day to a full day, and using banked hours that are already in our scheduled days. Go to
http://www.wcpss.net/parents/calendars/2013-14/make-up.html for full list of make up days.
WAKE COMMISSIONERS, SCHOOL BOARD TO MEET FRIDAY
In an effort to forge a better relationship, members of the Republican-led Wake Board of Commissioners and the Democrat-majority Wake School Board are scheduled to meet Friday. The two boards have clashed in the past, especially when commissioners have tried to legislatively take ownership and management of Wake school system properties. Commissioners say they may try again. Meantime, the two boards seem to be coming to an agreement about funding for schools set to open in 2016. Commissioners have been withholding funds, saying that the school board needed to prove school construction would be cost effective.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS – 2-20-14
CHARLOTTE MAYOR OFFERS HELP TO WORKER FIRED BECAUSE OF MCCRORY
[CHARLOTTE] Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon has offered to help a man who was fired because he mouthed off at Gov. McCrory to find another job. Drew Swope was terminated from his job at Reid’s Fine Foods Sunday after Gov. McCrory’s security detail told the owner Swope told the governor “Thanks for nothing” when McCrory visited the store and said he didn’t need nay help. Swope, a Democrat, alleges that McCrory, a Republican, began yelling at him, though the governor’s people deny that. Mayor Cannon says he’s spoken to Swope, and is only trying to “help a constituent” find a job in the private sector.
NC APPEALS COURT RULES STATE CRIMINAL DATABASE PUBLIC RECORD
[RALEIGH] According to a recent ruling by a three-judge panel of the NC Court of Appeals, the state’s criminal records database is public record, and the public should have access to it upon request. The ruling overturns lower-court decisions that deemed those records the province of the local clerk of court’s office.
REPUBLICAN SENATE CANDIDATE MISLED INVESTORS, SAYS JURY
[RALEIGH] Not a good week for Republican US Senate candidate Greg Bannon. Not only was it reported that he over $8,000 behind in paying his Wake County property taxes, but now a Wake County jury has decided that Bannon defrauded two investors in his startup company. The jury passed judgment after two weeks of testimony and eight hours of deliberation. Bannon is vying for the GOP nomination to unseat US Sen. Kay Hagan in the fall. He was hoping to defeat state Speaker of the House Thom Tillis in the May primary.
CASH IN THE APPLE FOR 2-20-14
By Cash Michaels
SOMETHING IS WRONG – Something is indeed wrong in the state of Florida, where grown men are able to shoot and kill young black teenagers at will, and the law allows them to get away with it.
Last year it was the Trayvon Martin case, and his killer, George Zimmerman, has been waltzing around without a care in the world ever since.
Michael Dunn is so lucky. Dunn, who fatally shot black teenager Jordan Davis last year at a Florida gas station while Davis and his friends were listening to music, was convicted last weekend of three counts of attempted murder for shooting into a vehicle where Davis and his friends were.
But the Florida jury couldn’t reach a verdict on Dunn killing an unarmed Davis. Makes no sense, until you factor in clear evidence and writings of Michael Dunn that he sees all black male youth as thugs and threats. The man makes up seeing a gun, justifies first-degree murder, and at least one juror buys it, and Dunn, who is white, gets off the most serious charge.
He will be tried again for it, and he will serve at least 60 years in prison for the attempted murder charges (if he lives that long), but the fact of the matter is we see clear evidence of black life being cheap in this nation, and by all accounts, Jordan Davis’ life had tremendous value to it. He wasn’t “a thug.” He had no criminal record. He came from a good two-parent household.
Yes, there’s tremendous black-on-black violence amongst our youth, and the community struggles to deal with that.
But that doesn’t give anyone the right to feel that they, too, can just arbitrarily aim, click and fires…and ultimately get away with.
Those days have to end.
NC DEMOCRATS, HYPOCRISY AND BEN CHAVIS - A tragedy took place last week, and it deserves insight, reflection and perspective.
Last week it was announced that Randolph Voller, the chairman of what is clearly a divided NC Democratic Party which has been at war with itself since he took over the reins over a year ago, had fired the party’s executive director, Robert Dempsey.
No official reason was given, though subsequent reports suggest Voller wasn’t pleased with the job Dempsey was doing. It should be noted that none of our esteemed members of the major local media have bothered to look into the possible reasons, and never, apparently, asked any of their sources within the party about why Dempsey had to go.
Almost immediately, however, because of tweets from the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, and Chairman Voller over the weekend, by Monday it was determined that Dr. Chavis would be replacing Mr. Dempsey as party executive director. A press conference at NC Democratic Party (NCDP) headquarters was scheduled for Wednesday to make the official announcement.
That gave powerful forces in the elitist wings of the NCDP enough time to mount an effective counteroffensive, and devise a plot to smear Dr. Chavis with his past association with the Nation of Islam; with false allegations of his being anti-Semitic (meaning he hated Jews because of the NOI association); and also smearing Chavis with past allegations of sexual harassment from his days as executive director of the NAACP.
Yes, there were allegations, and yes, there was a court settlement. But no, nowhere in those court papers do you find an admission of guilt on the part of Chavis. And, in fact, he even says today that the allegations were false when they were made 20 years ago.
Chavis’ denial was never reported in any of the scandal-hungry local media when the controversy began.
By Tuesday, the controversy was full flame. Elitist Democrats were now using social media to further tar and feather Ben Chavis for allegations dating back 20 years. Local media were busy digging up, or being handed old articles and accusations to use to further build a case against Chavis being executive director. Jewish Democrats were declaring Chavis anti-Semitic and unfit – end of story. Emails from members of the Democratic Women of NC were referring to the negative articles about the man as justification for opposing Chavis. Party elders deliberately referred to Chavis as “Muhammad,” his former Muslim surname, as if to suggest he was still a member of the Nation of Islam, when in fact he had left the NOI almost ten years ago.
And Gary Pearce, who was once press secretary to Gov. Jim Hunt in the late 1970’s when Hunt refused to pardon Ben Chavis when he was in prison for a crime he didn’t commit during the Wilmington Ten case, got on his blog and called Rev. Chavis “…the most divisive, controversial figure” Chairman Voller could find to be executive director.
By the time Ben Chavis got off the plane in Raleigh Tuesday afternoon, he was facing a well-organized NC Democratic Party opposition that Chairman Voller had absolutely no control over, which was a huge mistake and gross miscalculation.
Virtually no one in the media, or as part of the NCDP, thought to look to see what Chavis had been doing for the past 20 years, or 10 years, or five year, or even within the past year, to balance the record.
Virtually no one thought to do that, except anchor Pam Saulsby with WNCN-TV News. She caught up with Rev. Chavis soon after he arrived, and taped a sitdown interview with him, putting the tough questions to him, and giving him a chance to answer his critics. Of all of the so-called “journalists” this week, Pam Saulsby was the only true journalist to do her job – giving a controversial figure a fair opportunity to answer his critics…truly giving both sides of the story.
Chavis told Saulsby how he was no longer a member of the Nation of Islam, having left the group many years ago. He said that he was not guilty of sexual harassment allegations, and that sometimes, people target high profile leaders with those charges, knowing that that places then in untenable situations.
Saulsby gave Chavis some of the due process he deserved, but it was too late. By the time the interview aired, the Executive Council of the NC Democratic Party, in a raucous session, had already voted by teleconference to appoint an interim executive director for thirty days.
Chairman Voller, at the request of Ben Chavis, did not submit Chavis’ name given the uproar. Voller says he may still do so later, but that’s extremely doubtful
NC Democratic Party members are now slapping themselves on the back fro keeping that “no good Chavis-Muhammad-sexual-harasser-fella from becoming executive director. After all, we don’t need a racist and sexual harasser running our party.”
Well, members of the NC Democratic Party, time to give you some truth right about now. First of all, I am not pleased with the sloppy, ill-advised way Chairman Randolph Voller handled this whole affair. It was Mickey Mouse and unprofessional from the word go, and if given the opportunity, I’ll tell him (in fact, as of this writing, I have), because in the interim, a good man and courageous leader was wounded and lynched this week… a man who has tremendous courage and dignity, and has a solid record of bring people, and especially young people of all stripes and backgrounds together, who could truly help what can only be described as a crippled NCDP so weak and directionless that long before Randolph Voller took over as chairman, it literally handed the Republicans control of this state for at least the next six years because its Democratic past Democratic speaker of the House and one of his lieutenants were convicted of corruption and sent to prison; and because its past chairman allegedly paid hush money to a former staffer who had been allegedly sexually harassed by the then party executive director.
All of this happened in just the past five years, and no Democrat enjoys having that nonsense thrown back in their face without a fair hearing, but those same Democrats were more than willing to convict a man for allegations dating back 20 years ago, without a fair hearing…without due process. Somehow, that doesn’t make sense.
Oh, and racism…Ben Chavis is (supposedly) an anti-Semite because of his past association with the Nation of Islam in the 1990’s? I might remind the NCDP that back in 2006, you were forced to apologize to the African-American community of this great state for the fact that in 1898, white supremacist leaders of your party decided Democrats could no longer tolerate black economic and political progress, and, employing the Ku Klux Klan, ravaged the mostly black city of Wilmington, NC in November 1898, shooting black people on the streets, chasing black businesspeople from their homes and properties at gunpoint, and taking over the city government by force, ushering in the era that became known as Jim Crow.
So who do you have now, NC Democrats? You hate your chairman, the big money bags have stopped giving cash to the party, your reputation has been in shambles for at least the past five years, you’ve lost control of the Governor’s Mansion and the General Assembly with no real hope of getting it back, you’re fighting each other more than you’re fighting Republicans, you’ve now lynch mobbed a man without due process… and you wonder why more and more people are disgusted with both you and the Republicans, and changing their political party registration to NO political party registration?
Well, I’m joining them!
My core value system is freedom, justice, equality …and truth. Anything or anyone I’m associated with has to reflect some, if not most of those core values. And when I find out, without question, that those values are not reflected in my association, I cut ties, because I will not cast a blind eye to hypocrisy.
The question is, if the NC Democratic Party continues with this clown show and lynch mob party, then how many others are you going to send away from your ranks?
And if any of what I’ve just said you think was wrong or unfair…well, now you know how Ben Chavis feels.
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.
And coming in April, 2014, the NNPA-CashWorks HD Productions documentary presentation of, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.”
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.