Monday, July 28, 2014




by Cash Michaels

            A young man from Southeast Raleigh is in San Antonio, Texas this week  competing on one of the largest national stages for swimming competitions.
            Bryson Johnson, 12, is swimming in the Southern Zone Age Group Championships of  USA Swimming, hosted by the Alamo Aquatics Association at the NISD Swimming Complex from July 29th to August 2nd.
            Bryson is part of a new swim team at the Garner Road Community Center. He qualified for the Zone Championship based on his excellent times in the North Carolina state finals in Cary recently. Bryson’s father, A.C. Johnson, credits Coach Scott Bowers with working with his son, helping him to come in #4 in the 50 Meter Free style in the state swimming competition ages 11-12.
            Mr. Johnson considers Bowers, who is African-American, a “strong coach” who has given good direction to his son. Johnson says the community should be made aware of the new swim team at the Garner Road Community Center, and support it.
            Johnson remembers fondly how he and his wife,  JesSanne, introduced young Bryson to swimming when he was just six months old in 2002 at the Pullen Park Swim Facility for Parents and Infants.
            When that program ended, we learned that Ruth Palmer was conducting Swim Lessons for Parents and Infants as the summer was coming back around,” Mr. Johnson recalls.  “We attended her program over a few summers keeping him in the water as much as possible.”
            “In 2004, we brought him to Gypsy Divers for group swim lessons and ultimately private lessons. In 2008, at the age of 6, we attended the YMCA try outs for 6 to 8 year-olds year-round swim team.  There were 8 kids there, 2 six year olds and 4 eight year olds with 2 openings for the North Raleigh YMCA YOTA Team.  Because Bryson had the correct double kick for the Butterfly down, he and an 8 year-old were selected for the YOTA Team, 8 and under.  Ruth’s and Gypsy Divers (Corey’s) trainings paid off,” Mr. Johnson says.  
            Bryson’s lessons continued at the Y, and when he was 7, he was introduced to the NC Aqua Blazers Team. They came together every year from around North Carolina to compete in the Annual Black Heritage Swim Meet in Cary.
            The meet attracted swimmers from 19 states, from all walks of life.
            “This was significant to us because we noticed that as we attended meets with our son, anywhere, we could pick him out of 1,000 swimmers quickly because of the color of his skin,” Mr. Johnson recalls. 
            Meanwhile, concerns were growing with Bryson on the YOTA Team at the Y.
            “In 2012, I began to notice Bryson was not progressing as I thought he should,” Mr. Johnson said. “I sat in on a few practices with the YOTA Team and decided to speak with the coach then for Bryson’s then age group. to find out what could be done to improve on his progress.  Disappointingly, I was told by his coach at the time that my son just did not put any effort in his swimming, thus, the coach had other swimmers he was putting more of his time into.”  
            At first, I went to Bryson and asked him to focus, thinking he needed to put more effort into his practices.  In reality, I realized he was just another cog in the wheel of a team of over 600 members.
Thus, I began to do research on other teams in our area.  There was one thing I found common with them all, and it was they were all very large.”
            Mr. Johnson began asking around, and after a while, he began hearing more and more about Coach Scott Bowser.
            Bowser was black, which Johnson felt would be important in bringing out the best from his black male son, and his teams were small, but excellent.
            “He’s been coaching for over 17 years; coached on all levels from beginners to swimmers within the Division 1 College Level; High School State Team Championships; High School State Champions; and Olympic Trial Qualifiers,” Johnson said.
“Thus, July of 2013 I moved my son to begin training with Coach Scott’s team.  As we walked in to work with him, Bryson had barely qualified for the NC State Championship Meet.  This meant he was ranked somewhere in the 100s among all 11-12 boys in the state and way up in the 1000s to tens of 1000s nationally.” 
“Right away I saw a difference in my son’s attentiveness to Coach Scott.  He was being challenged to improve his stroke mechanics with every lap, thus leading to faster times,” Johnson says. 
But the concerned black father saw something else in Coach Bowser’s tutelage that heartened him.
“Bryson was starting the 6th grade at Carnage Middle School,” Johnson recalls.  “Coach Scott stood in the gap there too, in front of us at times as he demanded Bryson to perform well in school! Demanded!  Bryson’s strokes became more refined; his times began to get faster; and more importantly, his grades went up.” 
Johnson knew then that he and his wife had made the right choice in Coach Bowser.
“About 6 months ago, Coach Bowser moved his team to the Garner Road Community Center after stepping out to own and control his own team’s destiny,” Johnson says.  About six families followed him, with us in tow.”  
“Many questioned why we would take our son to the Community Center.  Some felt it’s not in the “best part” of the city; it’s not the prettiest of pools; and blah, blah, blah.”
“For us, it’s not the location for us…..though we enjoy the facility.  Yes, it needs some philanthropic donors to help revive its aesthetics, and yes, we stayed with the coach because our son’s a better swimmer and becoming a better young man for it,” Johnson said.
“Bryson, who barely made the State Championship Meet last year, qualified this past March to go to Atlanta to compete with kids from all over the South.  This was a moment of “ah ha” for JesSanne and me.  Bryson went to work and finished in the top 16 of the 11-12 year old Boys 50 Fly.  Not even a year with Coach Scott and he was improving with each competition.”
It was at the State Championships recently where Bryson earned the right to represent North Carolina in San Antonio, Texas this week, competing against 15 other All-Star teams from across the South in the USA Swimming Meet.
The Johnsons were proud to see their son not only qualify in the State Championships in meets he did not qualify for last year, but actually dramatically improve his times and standings in the meets that he did, finishing as high as 4th in the 50 Free.
Coach Bowser, realizing that Bryson could qualify for the USA Swimming meet, pushed him hard, dropping his finishing times dramatically with each effort over a three-day period.
In the end, Bryson was on the plane to San Antonio Monday, representing North Carolina as one of its best.
“Yes, our son, who just a year ago barely made this meet in two events and finished in the range from 80-100 was now 5th fastest 11 – 12 boy in the state and now going to Texas to swim representing the state of North Carolina,” says Mr. Johnson. 
“Thank you Coach Ruth Palmer with the Parent Child Swim Lessons at 6 months old during the summers; Gypsy Divers (Dave and Coach Corey) for lessons from 2 to 6 years old; YOTA Swim Team (particularly Coach Jen); NC Aqua Blazers Swim Team (Coaches Eman and Britney) and of course Mo at the Garner Road Community Center for working with the NC Aqua Blazers Swim Team and Coach Scott Bowser in building a New Team there too.  
Finally, to Coach Bowser, for practicing what he preaches when he says, “it’s all about the kids, they deserve the credit, they do the work, I just guide them and want the best for them. Greatness can happen anywhere at any time.  Look for the best for your child and be amazed at what will come.”
“And thank you Coach Bowser,” says Mr. Johnson, “for believing in our children as a team, not just one, but all.”


By Cash Michaels

            STEPHEN A. GETS SHUT DOWN – ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith was forced to apologize Monday on air because last Friday, while discussing the punishment the NFL imposed on Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice for assaulting his wife, Smith suggested that some women can be guilty of provoking domestic violence that they ultimately become the victims of.
            Smith caught hell, and was forced to come back on the air Monday morning during his “First Take” program with his tail between his legs, begging forgiveness. It was later revealed that Smith had been suspended for the balance of the week because of the incident from both "First Take," and his ESPN Radio program.
            I’m not going to get into the domestic abuse issue, though you can sign me up as one of the first on the list of those who believe that men have no business hitting or battering women. Clearly what Ray Rice did to his wife was beyond all explanation, and the brother needs serious help. But it is long past due for this nation to have an honest, open discussion about domestic violence (notice I didn’t say domestic abuse, which common sense tells us should never occur) in this nation, and what can, and should be done about it. We are afraid to discuss the issue of violence in domestic relationships because commonly, the issues of violence and abuse get conflated, when in fact, they need to be separated, and examined as such. The two are not the same.
            When the nation is ready for such an honest, open, dispassionate discussion, please let me know. Problem is just like with race, another subject we refuse to discuss in an open and honest forum, I bet we never get there.
            ISRAELI –PALESTINIAN CRISIS – Former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright was right on target when she said that world right now was “a mess.” Growing US – Russian tensions over the Ukraine and the shootdown of Flight M-17; the human crisis of Central American children crossing the US border seeking asylum as refugees from violence in their own countries; and the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
            Yes, it is documented that the terror organization Hamas began the shelling of Israel, which Israel, in turn has responded to with incredible force. The result – over 1,000 Palestinians (including hundreds of children) dead, and approximately 60-70 Israeli soldiers and a few civilians killed.
            Despite the best efforts of Secretary John Kerry and other allies, the hatred between the two only grows. Israel, however, is losing by winning. By killing so many innocent Palestinians, Israel is feeding growing anger in the Arab world, meaning that terrorists will come from other parts of the region to defend the Palestinians.
            Some may also come to US shores to attack us, since our nation is a strong ally of Israel.
            Like Ms. Albright said, the world is a mess right now. Pray for us all, because anything can happen now.
            THE EBOLA CRISIS –  Ever see the 1995 movie “Outbreak” with Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding, Jr. about an African Ebola disease spreading in the United States? Well it took a while, but in Africa right now, there is a Ebola outbreak, with over 660 people dead in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and an unknown number infected.
            Recently, at least two doctors died of it, and a woman who was infected in Sierra Leon escaped quarantine, possibly infecting hundreds, if not thousands more.
            Two American volunteers are among those who have died.
            We pray that this deadly disease is contained soon, and does not spread.
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” (
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.
By Cash Michaels

            Though it may settle down, reaction to conservative Art Pope’s purchase of the former Kroger Supermarket site on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in Southeast Raleigh is still raging.
            Personally I think the purchase by Pope is a slap in the face to the black community,” Rev. Dr. Earl Johnson, pastor of nearby Martin Street Baptist Church, and president of the Raleigh – Wake Citizens Association, told The Carolinian this week.
“[Pope] has a history of taking advantage of poor blacks and Hispanics, making huge profits and using that money to finance programs to further keep them poor,” Rev. Johnson charged.
            Pope, the state’s budget director under current Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, is also a major conservative campaign donor, and chief executive of Variety Wholesalers, Inc. – owner of several discount stores like Roses and Maxway which target the African-American community. He purchased the empty building and parking lot from the Kroger Company last week for $2.57 million dollars, reportedly way short of its $5.65 million tax assessed value.
            Kroger closed its store at that site in January 2013 because, the company said, of lagging sales.
            In published reports, Pope says he plans to open a grocery store there, but combine it with a Roses store, to “…serve our community.”
            Pope’s critics in Southeast Raleigh, however, see the purchase of the Kroger site as Pope “serving” the furthering of his conservative political interests, and forcing Southeast Raleigh’s African-American community to pay the bill through his stores.
            According to Democracy North Carolina, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social advocacy group in Durham, “James Arthur (Art) Pope is the poster child of what one extremely wealthy individual can do to twist an entire state’s public policy in a racially-divisive, ultra-conservative direction.”
            DNC goes to charge that Pope “literally depends on the black community to finance his political operation..,” noting that many of the over 400 discount stores Variety Wholesalers, Inc. owns throughout the South “targets lower-income minority neighborhoods with minimum 25% African-American population within 5 miles, with a median household income of $40,000 or less,” according to the company’s website.
            Various progressive groups, including the NC NAACP, have charged that that Pope-owned stores not only “paid less than a living wage” to its employees, but profits went in part to fund the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh-based conservative think-tank, and the John W. Pope Foundation.
            Pope’s enterprises have also helped to fund the Tea Party-backed Americans for Prosperity, and in 2010, the campaigns of numerous conservative Republican candidates for the General Assembly, effectively fueling the GOP takeover of the state Legislature.
            I would hope the price of convenience and economic development would not be the suffering of many by the backward policies of the Art Pope-financed majority in the General Assembly, businessman and former District C City Councilman Brad Thompson told The Carolinian. “Having plenty of money doesn't make one right. I am happy for the people who get jobs but I will not be someone who shops there.”
            According to critics like Thompson and Rev. Johnson, the Pope purchase is both a blessing and a curse.
            There is no question that a supermarket is needed in the surrounding low-income residential area, and community leaders, led by Raleigh City Councilman Eugene Weeks, have been trying ever since the Kroger store closed to attract a replacement.
            The closest supermarket, Food Lion, is a mile away down Rock Quarry Road, making it a chore for the elderly and those without cars to shop there. As a result, the area surrounding the former Kroger site has been designated a “food desert” because of the lack of grocery store service to its low-income residents.
            According to Councilman Weeks, Mt. Peace Baptist Church, which is next door to the Kroger property, was in discussions with the company to purchase the building for a multi-purpose facility, but those talks fell through. Weeks told The Carolinian this week that while others entered into discussions to purchase the property, no agreements could be reached.
            Weeks says he was as surprised as everyone else to hear not only that Pope purchased the site, but that he got it for almost half the assessed tax value.
            The District C councilman says that while many in the community have serious problems with Pope’s politics, there’s not much they can do about the sale now that it’s done.
            “We needed a grocery store, and now we have one coming,” he said. “We have to move forward.”
            Daniel Coleman, the chair of the South Central Citizens Advisory Council, is all in favor of the Pope acquisition, and feels that opponents should welcome the fact that the conservative businessman is investing in Southeast Raleigh, and could be bringing many jobs with him.
            In a comment to The Carolinian about the Pope purchase, Coleman, who formerly led the RWCA, and has been supportive of conservative politicians in recent years, was critical of anti-Pope bias.
            You want blacks to look where 'liberal' white Raleigh wants us to look while they take us to the cleaners,” Coleman wrote in an email in response to a request for comment. “I hope you read the letter in today's [News & Observer] "bus fares and federal law".  Then ask yourself and the community who the real devil is.” 
            Still, there are those like current RWCA Pres. Rev. Earl Johnson, who say the political paradox that Southeast Raleigh faces because of the Pope purchase is something that can’t be ignored.
            “This area is considered a food desert, and Art knows that because it was created through the policies of the legislature he commands as the governor's overseer,” Rev. Johnson said. “Although it was Kroger' s decision to abandon the people in the area, ultimately it was because of a lack of profits caused by low salaries, transportation issues, and food quality among other things promoted by a Pope-led legislature that doomed Kroger.”
            “I feel sorry for the people in the area,” Rev. Johnson continued. “I am sure they were looking for someone else with less baggage and less political controversy to purchase the site. For them it’s going to mean low wages, low quality food, and high prices for cheap items. 
            Unfortunately, North Carolina has created an environment where the poor are making companies like Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Roses, along with others, billions of dollars because they have no other alternatives.” 
            I hope the community will stand firm and not support this venture by Art Pope,” Rev. Johnson continued. “I will encourage them to shop elsewhere, because the profits, and the money they spend there, will be used to oppress them further.”

        STATE NEWS BRIEFS 7-31-14

            [RALEIGH] Teachers will get a seven percent raise, and $135 million will be cut from the state’s Medicaid program. Those are the highlights of a long awaited budget agreement between the state House and Senate that both GOP-controlled bodies could vote on by the end of the week. In addition, state employees will get a $1,000 bonus. Noncertified teachers will get a $500.00 raise. At presstime, Gov. McCrory, who vowed to veto any budget that gave teachers more than six percent, had not weighed in.

            [WILSON] Neighbors are mourning the death of a seven-year-boy who was fatally wounded when bullets pierced his home on the 400 block of Parkview Street July 23rd. Young Kamari Jones died at Vidant Medical Center the following morning. Police are mum as to way the boy’s home was targeted. They are asking anyone with information to contact Crimestoppers at 252-243-2255.

            [WASH., D.C.] The mayor of Belhaven, NC has completed his 273 - mile trek from his small town to the nation’s capital to protest the closing of the local hospital. Mayor Adam O’Neal arrived in Washington Monday, where he was met by NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber and NC Congressman G. K. Butterfield, among others. O’Neal protested the closing of the hospital owned by Vidant Health System, which said it did so because it was losing money in the wake of the state not expanding Medicaid. 



            The best place for business and careers in America, once again, is the Capital City of North Carolina, says Forbes Magazine in its latest issue. Raleigh beat out Des Moines, Iowa and Provo, Utah (which came in second and third respectively), as well as Charlotte, which finished out of the top ten at #12. A research firm analyzed date from the US Census to make the determination. Previously Raleigh topped the chart in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. 

            Free breakfast will be offered at eight elementary schools starting this year in an effort to help hungry low-income students get a stronger academic start to their day. The so-called “universal breakfast” will allow everyone to breakfast together, thus helping to increase class participation, officials hope. Research shows that the results could be higher test scores. Wake schools currently serve 28,000 breakfasts every day.

            Athletes who left UNC – Chapel Hill before finishing their academic work will now have the opportunity to do so. The school is now giving those athletes scholarships and counseling through a new program called “Complete Carolina.” The Rams Club will provide the scholarships, and the goal is for every athlete to complete their course, and earn their degree. Recent allegations regarding past UNC athletes taking bogus courses to remain eligible are being probed by the NCAA.