Tuesday, June 10, 2014





BLACK FACE COMEDIAN CONTROVERSY - The Lincoln County NAACP is opposing the appearance of Willie P. Richardson (left) a white comedian who performs blackface seen here with singer Percy Sledge, from bringing his act there in August to benefit the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge. The NAACP says Richardson's act is offensive to blacks. [ photo Richardson website]

By Cash Michaels

            Controversy is brewing over the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #85 in Lincolnton hiring a “black face” white comedian to do a benefit concert, despite objections of the Lincoln County NAACP.
            On its website, the FOP Lodge #85 – which is made up of local Lincoln County police officers and sheriff’s deputies – defended its actions, saying, “The comedy concert will feature Willie P. Richardson. We invite the citizens of Lincoln County to join us for a night of clean comedy suited for the entire family.”
            While it’s true that Richardson, who hails from Nacogdoches, Texas and is best known on the predominately white country music circuit as “The Phone Prankster” for his comic black male phone impersonations in black face, apparently doesn’t use profanity or sexual humor in his stage act, a look at his many Youtube videos featuring a fat black woman having to be pushed through the door of a bus by two drivers; or an older black male with bad teeth smiling wide, or a midget in a Mexican sombrero wearing a diaper, might easily be deemed racially offensive by many.
            Debra C. Williams, president of the Lincoln County NAACP, is certainly offended. After sending out a press release about the planned Richardson show to the local Lincoln Times-News newspaper, and then apparently seeing some of his controversial videos on Youtube, Williams was clear in her opposition.
            "These are the people who are supposed to protect us, but behind closed doors, they're making fun of us," Williams told WBT News in Charlotte this week. "It's time for the community to take a stand.”
            For its part, FOP Lodge 85 is defending its “family friendly” choice of entertainment, even though, in response to the controversy, it has postponed the Richardson show from June 28th, to August 16th in an apparent effort to build up public support.
            On its website, the lodge said an FOP group from another state recommended using Richardson after he had called seeking to do a show. He had previously performed a benefit concert for a local fire fighters’ association several years earlier as well, without a problem.
When FOP Lodge 85 members voted to hire him, “There is no indication that any of our members knew the race” of Richardson, “…and had no reason to expect controversy,” the statement went on, adding that many were familiar with him from his radio appearances.
            Lodge #85 is disappointed with the Lincoln County Branch of the NAACP.  By contacting the media first instead of Lodge #85 it appears the Lincoln County Branch of the NAACP was more concerned about publicity for their organization then an open dialogue with Lodge #85,” The statement added.
An FOP spokesman, Spencer Summers, told WBTV-TV that the lodge “unanimously” voted to go ahead with the show, but with one new caveat.
            “The comedian is not going to do it in [black] makeup,” Summers said. “He’s [going to] do it in regular face.”
            Summers, the FOP Lodge spokesperson, is black, and he insisted that other black FOP police officers see nothing wrong with Richardson’s act.
            The FOP Lodge statement clarifies even more, stating, “Willie P. Richardson will NOT perform in makeup or “blackface”. Willie P Richardson will perform his clean political incorrect humor as a Caucasian male. He does not use profanity or tell racist jokes or stories.”
            "Lodge #85 is a diverse organization made up of police officers and sheriff's deputies from local law enforcement agencies,” a statement from the leadership maintained. “Members of all races voted to have the comedy benefit concert with Willie P. Richardson."
            The statement added that the motion to go forward with the Richardson act “…was made by an African American member, and seconded by another African American member of Lodge #85.”
            The lodge went on to remind all of its past charitable work in the community – from donating toys to needy children, to helping injured law enforcement officers with medical bills.
            Still, the question remains, did the lodge actually check into Richardson’s background or videos, all readily available online.
            An online article from July 2007 titled, “RAY PRICE GETS “BLACK-FACED” LAST WEEKEND, SPEAKS OUT AGAINST RACIAL BROUHAHA,” reported how country music singer Ray Price was blindsided by Richardson’s blackface act opening for his show in Lafayette, Louisiana.
            According to the article, Richardson was mistakenly thought to be black when he performed, and the Lafayette NAACP asked that his act be barred once it was discovered that he was white.
            "When asked why he would let a white comedian who paints himself black open for him, Ray Price commented, “I don’t get to choose who opens for me, the promoter does that. Besides, it doesn’t make any difference to me how he wants to look. I’ve always liked black people,” the paper reported. Price later added, ““I have nothing against blacks. In fact, if they came to the show, they might’ve enjoyed it.”
            Richardson peddles CDs and DVDs of his blackface act at his online website, and travels the country doing clubs and concerts. He insists that he does not do racial jokes, though he’s proud that his brand of comedy is “politically incorrect.”
            Interestingly, some of Richardson’s earlier “phone prank” comedy bits didn’t feature him pictured in black face, but rather an elderly black man smiling with rotted teeth on a telephone, giving the audience the impression that it was a black man doing the talking.
            Richardson’s comic logo features a black man with a cigar in his mouth. And the subject matter, like a comic bit titled “Frequent Voter,” which has Richardson calling a local elections office claiming to be a black voter who has already voted absentee, and wants to know if he can vote again since he and his wife are normally paid to do, clearly has him furthering false right-wing allegations that justify voter photo ID.
            Interviewed by the Lincoln Times - News, Richardson says his comedy is not designed to "demean" anybody, and he gets signed releases to use the phone prank recordings on CD.
            State NAACP President Rev. William Barber says, "We stand in solidarity with the Lincoln County NAACP branch."

By Cash Michaels

            TRACY MORGAN – All of our collective prayers go to comedian Tracy Morgan and his family, as he continues to recover from a tragic traffic accident on the New Jersey Turnpike over the weekend. Reportedly the driver of a Wal-mart truck, who had not slept for at least 24 hours, allegedly swerved into the path of Morgan’s vehicle, causing an accident. One person in Morgan’s vehicle was killed, and he was injured badly from the crash.
            Once again, no matter who you are, or how high on the hog you’ve been, anything can happen at any moment that can dramatically change your life in an instant. Morgan is an extremely talented person, and we pray for his speedy recovery.
            DR. ANGELOU’S MEMORIAL – It was a dignified, yet spirited memorial service honoring Dr. Maya Angelou held at the Wait Chapel of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem last Saturday.  Personages from all walks of life, from First Lady Michelle Obama, to former Pres. Bill Clinton, to talk queen Oprah Winfrey, to former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, were there to pay homage to a phenominal woman who contributed by measure to the fields of literature, the arts and education.
            Listening to the tributes to Dr. Angelou reinforced the value of African-American culture to the world, and the vital, pivotal role that she played in shaping it. Her groundbreaking autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” has inspired generations. Her historic poem at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, “On the Pulse of the Morning” produced visionaries who picked up her cues, and their pens, and gave us even more great poetry.
            You could feel Dr. Angelou smile as the tributes were sung, and the songs were sung. Certainly the words and music of Valerie Simpson at the end reminded us that Dr. Maya Angelou was someone who enjoyed a good time.
            She taught us all well, Dr. Maya Angelou did. Let’s hope all of us move forward with the lessons of peace and hope that she prayed we would learn.
            “DRUMLINE” – Sometimes you don’t really appreciate a film or television show until years after it’s come out. Last weekend I had the chance to watch “Drumline,” starring Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldanna and Orlando Jones. It is the story of a talented young musician who attends an historically black college in the South, and joins the school’s marching band. Nothing exciting in that description, and yet the lessons learned by Nick Cannon’s character about discipline, teamwork and creativity are valuable, making this 2003 film timeless in message.
            The film was directed by Charles Stone III, and if you’ve never seen, I suggest you do, because it’s fine work. And if you have, I suggest that you watch it with your kids. Yes, there are one or two scenes that come close to the sexual line, and some of the language can get a little rough for kids, which is why it’s rated PG-13 (parent guidance suggested). And yet, I think the overall message is great, and needs to be seen by our young people.
            GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – There can be little doubt that comic book movies literally rule the box office now, with the tremendous success of The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Spider –man, X-Men, Captain America…and the list can go on, and will. That’s why the next big summer movie for superheroes comes in August with “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which looks really weird and seems to have a comic (as in funny) edge to it. Starring Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper, I predict that it will be hit primarily because we could all use something that stretches the imagination, but allows us to feel a little silly too.
            Looking forward to “Guardians of the Galaxy” in August.
            HEAT VERSUS THE SPURS – By the time you read this, game three of the NBA Finals between defending champs the Miami Heat, and erstwhile challenger the San Antonio Spurs, is in the books. But make no mistake, based on what we’ve seen in games 1 and 2, this seven game series may go the distance, and both teams are just as worthy to win. 
            They also have deeply personal reasons to want to win.
            The Spurs feel that they should have won last year when they had the Heat against the ropes in game 6 with just seconds to go. Problem is Heat player Ray Allen had other ideas, sunk a three from deep in the corner, and that turned fortunes around for the Heat, winning game 6, and then game 7.
            So the Spur want it badly this year.
            And the Miami Heat, the two-time champions, are not pleased with the way the air conditioning was turned off (OK, OK, broke down, are you happy?), and team leader LeBron James had to suffer cramps in 90 degree heat. That forced the Heat to lose to the Spurs in a game they were winning.
            You saw what happened in game 2, when James came back mighty strong to score 35 points and dominate to lead the Heat to victory. We’re writing this before game 3 kicks off, but there’s no doubt that James and the Heat don’t like being embarrassed, so they’re playing to prove that the first two championships were no fluke, and that they deserve respect.
            Like I said, this is going six or seven games, but ALL of them will be thrilling!
            And yes, I have the Heat to win. Have a problem with that?
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.


            Now that state legislative leaders have unveiled their plans for improving teacher pay, the Republican-led Wake Commission Board is proposing to raise the local teacher pay supplement from $6,200 annually to beyond the $6,400 a year Chapel Hill – Carrboro School System teachers now receive – the highest in the state. Without raising local property tax rates, the commissioners intend to use $3.75 million in tax revenue from alcoholic beverages to raise the salary supplement.  “We’re the richest county of North Carolina,” said Commissioner Betty Lou Ward at Monday’s meeting. “We definitely should be able to pay our teachers better.”

            At press time, the black bear that several people, including police, spotted trolling through various sections of Raleigh’s Five Points area Monday, has not been captured, and is probably long gone. The bear was seen on Carroll Drive just after midnight Sunday, and was later seen crossing Glenwood Avenue before disappearing. Experts say this is mating season for bears – whose population has increased in recent years - so it’s not unusual for black bears, which are considered shy and harmless, to venture into urban areas.

            The Raleigh City Council passed the first budget under new city manager Ruffin Hall this week, and it requires city residents to dig 2.12 percent deeper into their pockets. The $750 million budget raises fees for garbage pickup and utility services like water and sewer. It also funds street repaving, school crossing guards, and gives city employees a 2 to 4 percent raise.


            [WINSTON – SALEM] First Lady Michelle Obama led a star-studded list of those who paid tribute Saturday to the late Dr. Maya Angelou during a private memorial ceremony in Wait Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University, where Dr. Angelou taught for many years. Oprah Winfrey, former Pres. Bill Clinton, singer Valerie Simpson and others told mourners about what made Angelou great and inspirational in word and deed. Notables like ABC-TV’s Robin Roberts, former UN Ambassador Andrew Young and author Prof. Michael Eric Dyson were in the audience of over 2,000 to pay their last respects.

            [WILMINGTON] A federal judge has ordered UNC – Wilmington to pay over $700,000 in legal fees to Associate Professor Mike Adams who sued the school because he alleged it illegally denied him promotion to a full professorship after he converted from atheism to Christianity. Last March, a federal Jury in Greenville found the school at fault. The judge ordered UNC – W to give Adams his full promotion, with all pay and benefits due since 2007. UNC – W may appeal the ruling.

            [CHARLOTTE] Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon could serve a maximum 20 years in prison for pleading guilty to one count of corruption last week in US District Court. But if he starts telling what he knows to federal authorities about other figures involved in similar corruption schemes involving city government, that maximum sentence could be cut significantly, published reports say. However, if Cannon, 47, is found to be still breaking the law in any way, or withholding information that could lead to other prosecutions, his plea agreement is out the window, legal observers say.


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