Tuesday, April 29, 2014



By Cash Michaels

            The Rev. Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. says he’s coming back “home” to North Carolina to help jumpstart a voter empowerment movement for young people during this election year. And according to Chavis, the activist community of Durham is best suited to lead the charge.
            Dr. Chavis made his remarks Sunday during a “Get Out To Vote Rally, sponsored by the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People at Covenant Presbyterian Church, where activist Rev. Jimmy Hawkins is the pastor.
            Chavis said it was crucial that the power of young voters be harnessed in order to combat the Republican drive to build on their iron grip on state government, and the “negative” policies, like voter ID that have ultimately resulted.
            “These are some rough times,” Chavis told those gathered Sunday.  “[But] I’m here today to remind us that we’ve had rough times before.”
            “What’s going in the state Legislature, what’s going on in the Governor’s Mansion represents not just those Republicans? It represents a larger reality…somebody voted to put them in power. All of these bad things they have done to hurt people [in North Carolina]…just didn’t happen by themselves,” Dr. Chavis continued.
            In the face of Republican domination, the “challenge” is to reach out to the hundreds of thousands of blacks, Latinos and youth people who currently are not registered to vote, or are orientated to understand what freedoms they have lost since the GOP takeover in North Carolina, and what more could they lose.
            After saying that he would “love to see” the Democrats take back the NC General Assembly in the 2014 midterms, or the Governor’s Mansion in 2016, Chavis added, “…and I don’t think that’s an impossible dream.”
            “We not only have to pray for what is right, but allow ourselves to be GOD’s instruments for further change,” Chavis said, adding that all right-thing people of good will, no matter what their color, must come together to work for change.
            “If you work to make life better for black people in America, you work to make life better for all people in America,” the former leader of the Wilmington Ten said. “But we have to keep pushin’.”
            Chavis pointed to how One Stop – Early Voting numbers for the May 6th primary are slack, and how something must be done to improve those numbers by Election Day.
            “Driving up here I saw a lot of students…a lot of young people on the street. And I’m not so sure how conscious they are that not only can they early vote, but what’s at stake in this election.”
            Dr. Chavis, who was recently nominated to be interim executive director of the NC Democratic Party before moderate Democrats led a smear campaign to kill the effort, called Election Day “payback day,” saying that it is the day that voters kick elected officials out of office who have not served in the public interest.
            “I think the people in the Legislature and the Governor’s Mansion need to be paid back for what they’ve done,” Chavis said to applause. “So who is going to pay them back? I’m not so sure if the people of North Carolina are fighting ready.”
            Chavis said he is willing to come back, at his own expense, to help take part in “turning North Carolina around,” but it has to happen county-by-county. He suggested that Durham County lead the way in that effort because historically it produced “intellectual giants and forward thinking.”
Young people, Dr. Chavis said, are essential to that turnaround.
            “Young people voted in record numbers in 2008 because they got inspired. So what is it on the short term, between now and May 6th, that we can do in North Carolina to inspire and make our young people vote again?’
            Chavis said there must be outreach to the youth, using social media and the modern communications vehicles.
            “There are one million more Democrats than there are Republicans in North Carolina,” Dr. Chavis said. “What kind of calculus is that? How is that mathematically possible? You have one million more Democrats than Republicans, but the Republicans win the elections. That’s a mathematical impossibility, unless we and our allies have let go of not only our enthusiasm, but our sense of calling every day.”
            “There’s no better feeling when you go to sleep at night than knowing that when you wake up, you’re going to help somebody, because when you do, you also help yourself,” Chavis said.
            “Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can get right back up, he continued. “We’ve hit rock bottom. I don’t think it’s possible to go lower.”
            The former executive director of the NAACP called for a “democracy revival” in North Carolina, saying that the people’s spirituality, politics and economic outlook must all come together to move forward.
            “We have to reassert ourselves. We’ve made so much progress politically, but I think we have to make more progress economically, because one of the reasons why we’re politically weak today is because we’re also weak economically.”
            Dr. Chavis says the African-American community needs to start an economic  “war chest” so that it no longer has to take money from figures like disgraced
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned from the NBA this week after a recording of his racist rantings was made public last weekend. Sterling had received a “life achievement award” from the Los Angeles NAACP chapter in 2009 despite reports of his being a racist slumlord, and was set to receive another on May 15th at the L.A. NAACP’s Freedom Fund banquet.
            That award, which published reports say was the result of Sterling contributing thousands of dollars to that branch, has since been withdrawn.
            Chavis said with the US Supreme Court rollback on voting rights and affirmative action, in addition to the North Carolina Republican rollback on voting rights, social programming and their assault on the poor and unemployed, are more than enough reasons for people across the state to band together, and vote not just in the May 6th primaries next Tuesday, but November midterm elections in the fall.


            A Shaw University who was arrested and charged with trespassing because he allegedly refused to leave the campus library when asked, has had the misdemeanor charge dropped by the Wake County District Attorney’s Office. Authorities say the student, Na'Eem Shaemey Wilkins, 21, was arrested and charged Sunday evening after being asked twice to leave the library at closing. Wilkins alleged countered that he still needed to student for exams. The Shaw University library has since announced that it is extending its library hours.

         Several Durham police officers and department employees are being punished by Chief Jose Lopez for allegedly keeping confiscated gun parts for use with their official or personal weapons. A court order requires that all confiscated weapons be destroyed. Lopez says violators were apparently unaware of the court order. Seven in all now face disciplinary actions.

            Expect the elimination of 55 jobs as North Carolina Central University faces upwards of $6 million in budget cuts. The Board of Trustees last week also voted not to fill 38 open positions, and to lay off 17 employees during the first week in May. School officials say the cuts are necessary to keep NCCU moving forward.

            Raleigh residents in City Council District C are invited to a town hall meeting on Thursday, May 8, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at John Chavis Community Center, 505 Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. District C City Council Member Eugene Weeks will host the town hall meeting to discuss issues of importance to both the district and the city overall. District C covers the south and east quadrants of Raleigh. City Manager Ruffin Hall and some City department heads will be attending to respond to any questions submitted by citizens.


            [GREENSBORO] With the May 6th primaries scheduled statewide for next Tuesday, the One Stop – Early Voting period ends on Saturday, May 3rd. Republicans and Democrats  have primaries for the US Senate, most of the Congressional, state House and state Senate Districts, among other positions. Polls open at 6;30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

            [RALEIGH] On April 29th, the NCNAACP commemorated the first anniversary of its Forward Together coalition effort, the Moral Monday Movement, which brought tens of thousands of protesters to demonstrate the policies of the Republican-led  NC General Assembly last Spring. With the legislative Short Session scheduled to begin on May 19th, those demonstrations are scheduled to return as well, says Rev. William Barber, NCNAACP president.

            [MILWAUKEE, WIS.] Those who have filed suit against North Carolina’s photo voter I.D. law are gaining hope from this week’s ruling by a federal judge in Wisconsin finding that that state’s voter I.D. law was unconstitutional. The court found that the law imposed a “unfair burden” on the state’s poor citizens of color, and violated the Constitution’s equal protection law. The ruling hasn’t been appealed yet.


CASH IN THE APPLE – 05-01-14
By Cash Michaels

            BEING REAL – Earlier this week, Adam Silver, rookie commissioner of the National Basketball Association, made history when he announced the banning for life of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from his team and the league, along with a $2.5 million fine.
            In addition, Commissioner Silver announced that it will take three-fourth’s of the current 30-member governing board of NBA directors, otherwise known as the other 29 members, to vote to force Sterling to sell his team.
            So yes, I certainly join with players and coaches – past and present – in applauding the commissioner’s actions.
            But I also agree that this whole controversy, which started last Saturday morning when the celebrity website TMZ released secret tapes of who has now been confirmed as Sterling going on a racial rant with his alleged mistress about her putting pictures of she and black people, like basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, online, is not over.
            As of this writing, it’s not clear exactly what the timetable for the NBA owners to vote to sell Sterling’s stake in the L.A. Clippers will be. And what role will Sterling’s wife and family play in this. Could they end up with the club, thus keeping it in the family?
            Those are just some of the issues that lie ahead, and their good questions.
            But there are other questions, not just about Donald Sterling’s past, but the NBA’s past, that are also still outstanding. For instance, if everyone in the NBA’s hierarchy knew about Sterling’s racist past (it is well documented that he is a slumlord, that he’s expressed views about black people “smelling” and attracting “vermin”, and that legendary basketball great Elgin Baylor sued Sterling for racial and age discrimination when he as fired as Clippers general manager years ago, saying that the Sterling wanted “a plantation” of “poor black kids”, run by a “white coach”), then why is it only now, when the guy is set up by his alleged mistress and the world hears his racist views, that the NBA decides it needs to get rid of him pronto?
            That’s simple. Because Sterling’s previous racist actions apparently weren’t embarrassing enough. Let me explain.
            Even though Sterling’s previous racial controversies involved lawsuits and extraordinary accusations, apparently they weren’t “sexy” or clear cut enough for the Los Angeles media to make big noise about, so folks in LA weren’t that exercised (though they should have been), and the rest of the county knew little about Sterling and how he conducted business.
            Fast forward to now. Sterling’s racist views, as mean as ever, were served up on a silver platter by a sexy woman who was alleged to be the rich man’s ex-mistress on tape. And as a bonus, the rich white guy is not only railing to her not to take pictures with blacks, but not to bring any to his games.
            Then, to add the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake, the rich racist white guy then attacks one of the most beloved figures in the history of professional sports – Magic Johnson.
            That combination bust through all of the clutter, especially when the rich racist white guy’s voice can be heard clear as a bell. The presentation left few questions. We all knew what we heard, and were pretty darn sure who we heard, even if we had never heard him before. All that was needed  was public reaction from some of our cultural icons like Magic, like Lebron James, and like…gasp…MICHAEL JORDAN commenting on racism (didn’t know homeboy knew how to spell the word)…and it was a led pipe cinch that the fuse had been lit, and one way or another, something big was going to explode.
            National reaction to the fast moving story, especially from the NBA, President Obama and major advertisers, guaranteed that the only thing that would move it from the top headline would be the discovery of missing plane Flight 370.
            Finally, on Tuesday, the NBA announced its punishment against Sterling.
            As of press time, at least 25 of the 30 NBA owners had  issued statements applauding Commissioner Silver, and calling for Donald Sterling’s head.
            For his part, Sterling has made it clear that he won’t be selling the Clippers to anyone.
            Either way, the players of the NBA are hailing Com. Silver for his bold and decisive action. It was bold and decisive, but it’s not over.
            THE NBA AND RACISM – I have a friend in Arizona who used to be one of the best players in both the NBA and ABA back in the 1960’s and early 70s. Indeed, he used to play for the Atlanta Hawks and the Carolina Cougars.
            His name is “Pogo” Joe Caldwell.
            Joe led the 1964 US Olympic Men’s Basketball team along with Bill Bradley, Larry Brown and Walt Hazzard. When he got to professional basketball, Joe, called “Pogo Joe” or “Jumpin’ Joe” because of his leaping ability and speed, was an all-star in both the NBA and ABA.
            I bring Joe up because when I interviewed him two years ago for a short film I did on him, he talked about all of the racism he faced in both leagues at the time.
            The most striking story was when he, Lou Hudson and Walt Bellamy played for the Atlanta Hawks. It was the last 1960’s, and the Hawks was the team to contend with in the NBA. But the owner decided he wanted to shake things up, so he signed a young white player from Raleigh, NC named “Pistol” Pete Maravich.
            Maravich was a brilliant player from Louisiana State University known for his extraordinary ball handling and passing, not to mention his prolific scoring. The Hawks owner wanted Pete bad, and signed the young man for $1.9 million, a huge amount of money no pro athlete earned back in the late 1960s.
            When Joe and the black players on the Hawks heard about this, they balked. The average NBA ball player back in the 1960s earned around $45,000, if that much, and their contracts were not long-term, but year-to-year that automatically renewed at the same rate. Raises were given only if the owners were willing, which wasn’t very often.
Joe demanded to meet with the Hawks owner. He was invited to meet at an expensive steakhouse, where they could dine and chat. Finally, Joe decided to chuck the small talk and get right down to the butter – why is this new kid with no professional experience getting paid much. Much more than your veteran black players who have worked hard to win for the team, and put people in the seats?
The owner was shockingly matter-of-fact.
“Because Joe,” the owner told Caldwell,  “one white boy is worth more than six niggers.”
A shocked Pogo Joe Caldwell decided right then and there that he would never again play for that racist Hawks owner, and he didn’t.  The Hawks had to take Joe to court, but he refused, instead jumping to the ABA and the Carolina Cougars, where he played for several years before the Cougars were sold when the ABA and NBA merged..
Soon after that sale, Joe was indefinitely suspended from the NBA.
Caldwell has told me other stories of how racism permeated the early days of professional basketball. So when he saw NBA Commissioner Adam Silver lower the boom on Clipper owner Donald Sterling, he was surprised.
Very surprised.
TONIGHT – We’re bringing a free screening of the NNPA – CashWorks HD Production of “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten” to the Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville Street, tonight. Thursday, May 1st, at 6:30 p.m. Again, this event is free and open to the public.
As we said last week, Raleigh and Durham are two very different markets, and we’re extremely interested in hearing the varying views and perspectives of each one, especially young people. We’re still tweaking this film, which did very well with a 500+ audience in Wilmington on April 5th, and before we go further with it, we want to be sure that we’ve produced something which will positively add to our understanding of history as a people and society.
So Durham, we’ll see you TONIGHT, Thursday, May 1st, 6:30 p.m. at Hayti Heritage Center.
Raleigh, we’ll see you next week on Friday, May 9th, 6:30 p.m. at Martin Street Baptist Church (Family Life Center).
Both events are, again, free and open to the public, because we want to hear from you. On behalf of CashWorks HD Productions and the National Newspaper Publishers Association, thank you for supporting our film.
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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