Tuesday, July 8, 2014





By Cash Michaels

WHO ARE YOUR TOP TEN SINGERS? – Recently on Facebook, I told our readers how at dinner last week, my youngest daughter, KaLa (who loves music), asked me what my Top Ten favorite singers were. That was a tough one, because Lord knows there are so many. But I had to give her an answer, so here’s my list:
Luther Vandross
Gladys Knight
Dionne Warwick
Aretha Franklin
Anita Baker
Whitney Houston
Peabo Bryson
The Spinners
Tevin Campbell
Roberta Flack

Decent list, most would agree. However, needless to say, when I posed the same question on my Facebook page, lots of folks suggested some other fine singers that I plainly forgot about that certainly deserve to be on the Top Ten list, and others who didn’t because (in my opinion), they were more performers or something else, than singers.
For instance, a most notable absence on my Top Ten list is Michael Jackson. Without question, Michael is one of the greatest performers to ever walk the Earth. There can be no question about his place in entertainment history. But funny thing about Michael Jackson – he was a better singer as a child, than as an adult.
As a child, Michael was still learning and growing. He sang from the soul with little or no gimmicks. His “Off the Wall” album, produced by Quincy Jones, is without a doubt one of the greatest ever. But then, when his mega-millions album “Thriller”, also produced by the Q, came out in 1982, Michael began adopting audible and visual gimmicks that were more performance oriented that took away from his singing.
I know that sounds crazy to some of you. How can a great singing performer not be a great singer? Simple, look at James Brown, another great performer who geared his singing towards performance.
Compare James or Michael to, say, Peabo Bryson, or Philippe Soul Wynn of the Spinners, or Luther Vandross, and you get the point. The latter three put their singing before being visually exciting. Indeed, with Michael and James, their singing became a slave to their performance.
And that’s why, and again, this is all subjective, I put Michael Jackson and James Brown at the top of my Top Ten list of performers, along with such legends as Jackie Wilson and Little Richard. When I think of them, I think performance first. When I think Luther, I think singing first.
Other singers some of our Facebook readers suggested which I agree with include Jeffrey Osbourne, Stevie Wonder, Karen Carpenter, Lou Rawls, the O’Jays with Eddie Levert, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and the Four Tops with Levi Stubbs!
Have e left anyone out? Go to my Facebook page and give me a holler!
BASHING MSNBC – Is MSNBC, the cable channel of the left, perfect? Of course not, and lots of conservative folks and lovers of conservative counterpart Fox News love to take turns throwing rocks at the home of Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews.
Even some liberals like teeing up on MSNBC. Take NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, who last weekend on MSNBC’s “Up with Steve Kornaki” blasted the channel’s liberal hosts for always planting the blame for black struggle on white racism. White racism does exists, Costas said, but the causes of black struggle go beyond that.
I don't have a problem with the race discussions on MSNBC, and I've been covering race and racial issues in the press for over 30 years. Yes, there are some issues that are within our community that must be addressed. Many of those issues are discussed in black radio, and in black newspapers, an even online at black websites. Like certain family issues, neither MSNBC, nor any other broad issue venue, is the appropriate place for such discussions because unless its Melissa Harris Perry or Rev. Al or Joy Reid, none of the other MSNBC hosts are equipped to handle such discussions.
Of all of the cable news channels, MSNBC has been bold enough to have three black hosts who are well versed on our issues, and quite frankly explore then more than anyone else. When we had the Trayvon Martin case, Sharpton led the cause on his TV show. Perry used her program to advocate for pardons for the Wilmington Ten when literally no one else did (Sharpton did on his radio program).
Per Costas, if he's saying that there are black issues that are more complex, and thus aren't directly rooted in white racism, then what he's saying is there are things we would still be doing as a people if white racism didn't exist. OK, what things would that be? I see our behavior as a reaction to the generational hatred we have had to endure for centuries. I see white racism invested in maintaining the conditions that continue to have us turn on each other, instead of stand with each other. I see white racism invested in controlling black media to the point where our children adopt unhealthy attitudes that destroy families, destroy futures, and promotes violence. I see another cable channel, Fox News, cheerlead for an arch-conservative movement that has successfully crippled the right to vote for people of color in this nation, and is working 24/7 to punish the poor, and literally destroy a black president who was admittedly to naive to realize the depth of hatred he as dealing when he got to the White House.
Barack and Michelle Obama are our symbols of what, despite all that we face as a people, we and our children could achieve in this nation, and yet the racism that permeates ever fiber of our institutions have worked overtime since he got into office to portray him as the "other" and the "enemy." Bob Costas wants MSNBC to have a "complex" discussion of problems in the black community? Mister, all due respect, but the problems I see on my TV screen EVERY DAY among your ultra-conservative brethren moving mightily to turn the clock of racial progress back to BEFORE the civil rights movement, is the discussion that y'all MUST not only have, but must figure out in stopping. Because as long as our political system is geared towards the denial and repeal of civil rights, instead of the expansion of rights and opportunity for all, then blacks, Hispanics and other groups still fighting for equality against all odds will continue to suffer under great pressure...pressure that forces a people to act out against their own best interests.
Gee, imagine, a big time sportscaster more worried about discussing why black folks are having a hard time getting their act together, instead of doing something about the forces that profit mightily from keeping black folks from getting their act together. Gee, imagine 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).
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] There’s been some give, but conferees from the state Senate and House are still substantively divided over the propose $21.1 billion state budget they had hoped to have settled before July 1st. At issue, differences over Medicaid funding, teacher pay, coal ash cleanup and film industry incentives. The Senate seems to have backed off of connecting teacher pay with giving up job security, but still wants to slash over 7,000 teacher assistant positions in order to give educators an 11 percent raise. Meanwhile, House members still want to give teachers a five percent raise, payable from funds raised by the NC Lottery. The Senate is still skeptical about that. Wednesday morning, Senate conferees walked out of their meeting with House members, balking that witnesses were invited to speak. 

            [SALISBURY] The chairman of the Rowan County Housing Authority is being probed by the county commission board after a complaint was filed with the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development alleging that he authored racist posts on the online social media site, Facebook. The Rowan County NAACP has called for Chairman Malcolm “Mac” Butner to step down, calling his posts “deplorable and discriminative,” but Butner has refused, saying that he’s done “nothing wrong,” as is well within his First Amendment rights. Among the many comments Butner posted on his Facebook, were negative asides to the Moral Monday demonstrations. ““Gee,” Butner wrote after posting a picture.  “They are all black. I guess the white folk could not get off because they were too busy working (and) being productive, good citizens.” In another post, Butner, a Republican conservative, wrote, “To hell with the lesbos, queers, liberals and baby killers.” The Rowan Commission Board will complete its investigation into Butner by August 4th. His term is up this September.

            [NEW YORK, NY] The Raleigh mother of a 10-month-old baby that she allegedly left on a New York City subway platform near Central Park is in jail. That’s where Frankea Aleasha Dabbs, 11, will stay without bond until her court date July 11th. Dabbs, who is originally from California, but lived in Raleigh before she arrived in New York on July 2nd, has been charged with child abandonment and acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17. Dabbs, who is homeless, told investigators that the child’s father died recently, and she felt she could no longer care for the 10-month-old. A passenger of a train saw Dabbs leave the baby in a stroller on the platform Monday, stayed with the child for 20 minutes, and then called authorities, who took custody. Dabbs was arrested early Tuesday morning. She also has outstanding warrants for marijuana possession in North Carolina.



            The Raleigh City Council made it clear last week that it wants the Raleigh Business and Technology Center downtown back up and running after scandal last fall forced the city to withdrawn funding amid a criminal investigation of alleged fraud. Council said it was looking for new leadership to take over the small business incubator that was originally designed to help South East Raleigh entrepreneurs.  But according to a presentation made to the Council about all available options, one is creating concern – selling the building. That option is considered a “plan B” if other considered options fail. There are also concerns that if the RBTC continues, its primary focus would not be helping small black businesses in South East Raleigh.

            Some good news for St. Augustine’s University for a change.  It has been awarded two grants totaling $800,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide scholarships for students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math. Awarded from NSF’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program, a $600,000 grant will support 30 students in biology, chemistry and computer science, among other areas. A $200,000 grant will focus on assisting students with “cutting edge’ bench research during summer internships for better preparation with graduate studies.

            The educator who  worked to make the merger of the Raleigh Public and Wake County Public school systems as smooth as possible during the mid-1970’s, has died. Former Wake County Schools Supt. Aaron Fussell, 91, died two days passed his birthday. Fussell also served in the NC House for 16 years, retiring in 1994. He was Wake supt. from 1967 to 1976, and is credited with overseeing the racial integration of the city and county systems. Fussell was later elected to the House in 1978 as a Democrat, and focused primarily on education issues. He is remembered fondly as a thoughtful and caring man.


By Cash Michaels

            One week after the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the eyes of the nation are on US District Court in Winston – Salem where a weeklong hearing will decide whether aspects of North Carolina’s new voting restrictions, passed last year by the Republican-led NC General Assembly, will be stalled in time for this fall’s crucial midterm elections.
            “Our movement, and this hearing, builds on the legacy of those who have testified before us with their feet and blood to fight for our equal rights in this state, and certainly in this nation,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP.
            The NCNAACP, along with the NC League of Women Voters; the ACLU; the Washington, DC-based Advancement Project; and even the US Justice Dept., certainly hope so. Their long-term goal in suing the state is to get a federal judge, after a trial in 2015, to overturn the entire House Bill 589 57-page law, known officially as the Voter Identification Verification Act, that they say suppresses the voting rights of African-Americans, and violates Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, along with the 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution.
But this week, if the judge could at least issue a preliminary injunction to delay some of the restrictions like the elimination of same-day registration and Sunday “Souls to the Polls” voting; the slashing of early voting days from 17 to 10; the disallowing of provisional ballots and elimination of straight-ticket balloting, then partial victory could be claimed.
            Their argument – thanks to laws passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature in the late 1990’s that established One Stop early voting and same-day registration, black voter participation improved markedly between 1999 and 2009 to shoot North Carolina to 11th in voting state rankings.
 But in 2013, the GOP majority in the state Legislature passed voter restrictions in an effort to minimize the votes of traditionally Democratic leaning groups like African-Americans, Hispanics, college students and the elderly.
            By making the voting process harder, they contend, the Republicans hope to frustrate those groups to not show up in the large numbers witnessed in 2008 and 2012.
            “We see clearly the long arm of slavery and Jim Crow reaching into the present,” said attorney Penda Hair, co-director of The Advancement Project.
Earlier this week, State Senate Minority Leader Sen. Dan Blue (D-Wake) took the stand and testified how the new law is already intimidating voters in the African-American community. He was especially critical of a provision that allowed poll monitors from anywhere in the state to come to a particular voting precinct, and challenge voters waiting on line to cast their ballots.
            “There is a special psychological thing in the black community about voting,” Sen. Blue told the court. “There are a number of people – not me – who are new to the process and are distrustful. … When you see somebody in a suit and tie in a precinct that is mainly an African-American precinct, some people are intimidated.”
            Also taking the stand, 93-year-old Rosanell Eaton of Franklin County, who recalled how segregation laws during her youth prevented her and other African-Americans from exercising their constitutional rights, including the right to vote.
            Ms. Eaton testified as to how she was made to recite, without error, the Preamble to the US Constitution, before she was allowed to vote. She added that what the new voting restrictions do is no different now. Ms. Eaton won’t be allowed to vote under the new law because the name on her driver’s license and voter registration card does not match, despite decades of voting at the same precinct.
            Former State Elections Board Director Gary Bartlett testified that cutting the early voting period by seven days would just increase costs to local election officials, and same-day registration had the best record of verifiability than any other type of voter registration.
            In addition, attorneys for seven college students say the new law prohibits them from using their college-issued student ID to vote, a violation of the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution that requires no impediment to the voting rights of anyone 18 years of age or older “…by the United States or any state on account of age.”
Attorneys for state Legislature, however, argue that the only voters being targeted by the new laws, which include voter photo identification starting in 2016, and the elimination of pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds, are those who commit fraud at the polls. Those attorneys, who included not only some from the state Attorney General’s Office, but also private Republican heavy-hitters like Thomas Farr, argued in court this week that the voting system as currently configured is rife for fraud. The new laws are designed to protect the integrity of the election process, they insist, and the court, therefore, should not overturn them, let alone issue any injunctions delaying them.
            The main problem with that argument is, experts point out, that thus far, there is very little evidence of voter fraud in North Carolina, let alone across the nation, even though over 30 states have enacted some form of voter ID law.
            The case, thus far, has gotten substantial attention from national media outlets like the New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, and even international media like the Guardian Newspaper of Great Britain, who have been following the NCNAACP’s Moral Monday movement. With the conservative-led US Supreme Court striking down the Section 5 preclearance provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act a year ago – a provision which required the US Justice Dept. to review any and all changes to voting laws and procedures in 40 designated states (including 40 counties in North Carolina) – national media are interested in how the federal courts will deal with what many say is the single biggest law ever that now not only restricts, and even suppresses the voting rights of the poor and communities of color.
            Progressive rights groups say the law started as a 16-page measure requiring voter photo ID, but after the June 2013 VRA ruling by the US Supreme Court, it immediately ballooned to a 67-page bill spelling out a plethora of unexpected voting restrictions that had Democrats and other voting rights advocates howling.
            Gov. Pat McCrory signed those voting restrictions into law in August 2013.
            The US Justice Dept., in its brief before the court, is bluntly alleging that the point of NC’s voter restrictions is racial discrimination, and that Republican lawmakers knew what they were doing, and who would be directly impacted.
           A ruling from US District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder, who was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2008, is expected, if not this week, then at least before the end of the month. Judge Schroeder could issue a preliminary injunction against the voting law, assuming that he sees merit in in the arguments against it.
            However, if the judge doesn’t, he could dismiss the lawsuits against the law altogether, which would be a blow to the NCNAACP and its coalition.

What happens in North Carolina could have ramifications for voting laws across the nation, observers say.

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