Tuesday, August 12, 2014



WORLD MOURNS THE DEATH OF COMEDIAN ROBIN WILLIAMS - Shocking news this week upon word that actor-comedian  Robin Williams, seen here with former NBA great Kareem Abdul - Jabbar, committed suicide at his California home Monday. The star of the hit '80's TV show "Mork and Mindy," and such films as "Good Morning, Vietnam," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and his Oscar-winning "Good Will Hunting," was known to have suffered from drug and alcohol addiction, in addition to depression. Williams was 63.

By Cash Michaels

            A GREAT LOSS – There has been great sadness in the world of late, but few shocks.
            The untimely death of actor/comedian Robin Williams this week, was a great shock indeed.
            The boundless grief expressed, not just in Hollywood from stars like Bill Cosby and Jay Leno, but from President Obama and around the world, was genuine and heartfelt. How could a man so filled with extraordinary talent and seeming joy, also be so haunted with darkness and doubt enough to allegedly take his own life?
            Robin Williams made a good living being our greatest critic. He took all of the stupid things we put up with in life, and made torrid fun of them. True, that’s what good comedians do, and if they do it well, we applaud them for it.
            But Robin had a uniquely combustible talent of instantly, without a script, digging deep into all of our social insanities, and unmercilessly mocking them so precisely with every weapon at his considerable disposal – humor, satire, impressions, dance, meme,
            Robin was comic genius, taking the skill and style of his favorite comic craftsman, Jonathan Winters, one step beyond. To see both Winters and Williams on stage together was watching the master-teacher and master-student enjoying each other.
            Robin Williams was the real deal, a performer who always had a surprise for his audience. One moment as an alien from outer space named Mork who comes to Earth in a weekly TV series that took the country by storm back in the 1980’s.
            Then as a crazy radio disc jockey during the Vietnam War who kept our troops’ spirits up during combat in “Good Morning, Vietnam.”
            Then, Robin threw us a curve, portraying a serious college professor helping young students understand the meaning of life, and literature, in the “Dead Poets Society.”
            Then as an out-of-work actor and divorced father so desperate to stay connected to his children, he dresses up as an English housekeeper named “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and warms our hearts with one of the best comic performances in history (a sequel was in the works).
            Then as a psychiatrist helping a young man deal with a special pain in his life, a role Robin won an Academy Award for in the film “Good Will Hunting.”
            Indeed, there is literally a wealth, a great body of work assigned to the legacy of Robin Williams, with a plethora of Emmy and Grammy Awards to go with it. Light crazy comedies; dark, dark comedies, electric live performances, you name it, and Robin Williams had it for you.
            And you know what? We loved it. We loved every minute of Robin Williams, because it was clear that if GOD had ever created anybody to do what they were doing, He created Robin Williams, entertainer.
            The world loved the comic genius with the eternal little boy in him because he was so good, and he was so lovable.
            What I loved especially about Williams is that no matter how crazy or absurd he got, he always found a way to remind us about our humanity, and how all of us should strive more to make it happen more often. His first big TV show, “Mork and Mindy,” was filled with these simple morality plays that were as funny as hell, but all ended on the big gentle.
            So that’s why, given all that Robin Williams gave us, it was a shock this week to learn how he took his own life Monday by hanging himself in the room next to where his wife was sleeping in the California home.
            Many ask, ‘How could someone as famous, popular and loved like Williams do such a thing?” Those people forget how Whitney Houston died…alone in a hotel bathtub after taking drugs and booze.
            Or Michael Jackson. True he apparently died from an overdose of a power narcotic administered by his doctor, but evidence shows that Michael lived off that stuff because he couldn’t function otherwise.
            Many of some of our greatest performers are such basket cases that the only times they really fin happiness for themselves is when they are performing on a stage in front of a cheering audience.
            Obviously life is more than living off the adulation of others, but for many top performers, that is what life is all about. The so-called “normalcy” we all covet and crave is something superstars simply don’t have because of the high dollar demands made on their lives and talents.
            So while people like Michael, Whitney and yes, now Robin were busy trying to help the rest of us deal with the complexities of life, no one was really helping them with theirs.
            And that is a shame.
            There is much written about Robin Williams’ financial problems from his many divorces, not to mention his years in drug and alcohol rehab. But the fact of the matter is Robin Williams felt trapped…so trapped that he took the ultimate way out I sure he’s considered before.
            He was apparently angry with himself, so much so that despite his love for his family and craft, Williams decided to end it all. For the record, suicide should never be the answer for any problem. Because believe it or not, no matter how dark things get, there is “joy in the morning.”
            Problems do get solved.
            But for many in deep despair, there is no light that they see at the end of the tunnel.
            We join the rest of the world in praying for the family of Robin Williams, and heralding the great, and humane work of this true entertainment legend.
            Goodbye, Robin, and thank you so much. We will enjoy your work for the rest of our lives.
IT’S VERY TRUE – What are the words from that classic Smokey Robinson and the Miracles song, “Tears of a Clown?”:
            Now there's some sad things known to man
But ain't too much sadder than
the tears of a clown
When there's no one around.
In the case of the late Robin Williams, that was certainly the truth.      
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] Thanks to a recent US Supreme Court ruling against anti-abortion protesters in Massachusetts, two differ Wake County District court judges, in the last two weeks, have dismissed charges against ten Moral Monday protesters. In both cases, the judges ruled that their arrest was unconstitutional the protesters had to the right to peacefully assemble. Given that the General Assembly was able to do its business, the judges, citing the High Court ruling, dismissed the charges. Over 900 protesters were arrested during the 2013 Moral Monday demonstrations in front of the Legislative Building.

            [GREENSBORO] If the personal finance website WalletHub is to be believed, North Carolina ranks 37th in the nation when it comes to have the best school system. It also ranks 38th for School System Quality, 17th for Education Output and Safety, but then drops to the bottom five of Safest Schools rankings. Among the rankings criteria – student/teacher ratios, dropout rates, and test scores.

            [WILMINGTON] The Port City community will come together to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the historic March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. That commemoration will be Thursday, August 28th, at the 1898 Memorial Park. The event is free and open to the public. Special Recognition will be given to the victims and families of the victims of alleged excessive force by law enforcement. There will also be voter registration, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities will be recognized. More information will be forthcoming.



It looks like the battle by former North Carolina Central University Eagles Football Coach Henry Frazier III to get his job back is over. Earlier this week, Frazier’s lawsuit against NCCU was dismissed, according to the NC Attorney General’s Office. Frazier filed the lawsuit in 2013 after he was fired for violating a protective order for him to stay away from his estranged wife, whom he had separated from after an alleged domestic dispute in 2012. The order prohibited Frazier from contacting his wife in any way.

The NCNAACP-led Moral Monday movement returns to Raleigh for seven consecutive days of marches and rallies at the State Capitol, demanding each day that the Republican leaders of the NC General Assembly, and Gov. Pat McCrory, “ …repent and repeal their public policy attacks on North Carolinians’ civil and human rights.” From Friday, August 22nd to Wednesday, August 27th – the 51st anniversary of the historic March on Washington, protestors will meet starting at 3:30 p.m. on the Bicentennial Mall at 16 W. Jones Street, and march to the rally at the State Capitol at 4 p.m. On August 28th, the protesters will meet at the Mall at 3:30 p.m. to march the “Jericho March” around and back to the Mall at 5 p.m., preparing for a mass rally on voting rights titles “Vote Your dreams, Not Your Fears.” Go to www.naacpnc.org for more information.

Many in Southeast Raleigh considered the naming of streets after magicians in the new Walnut Terrace community a blasphemy, and disrespectful. They wondered why RHA Director Steve Beam, a known magician who has taken a lot of time away from his job to travel the nation attending conventions and doing shows, would disregard the historic names that had previously graced their community.  After a huge controversy, the Raleigh City Planning Commission this week finally agreed, and voted to remove the magician names from the streets of Walnut Terrace, and adopt the recommended list of a special committee to replace them with the names of people important in the local history of Southeast Raleigh. Residents will begin moving into the Walnut Terrace units by later this month.


By Cash Michaels

            Even though a federal judge has indicated that tough new voting restrictions enacted by the NC General Assembly in 2013 “may ultimately be found unconstitutional,” he did not see how they might cause “irreparable harm” during the Nov. 4th elections this fall, and has denied an NCNAACP coalition petition to stop them.
            US District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder, after weeklong hearings held in Winston-Salem in July, published his refusal to issue a preliminary injunction suspending the voting restrictions last week, thus allowing new rules cutting the early voting period in half, eliminating straight-ticket voting, and doing away with same-day voter registration, among new constraints, to be in force.
            Opponents say that the new restrictions seek to suppress the votes of African-Americans and other traditional Democratic voting groups. Supporters counter that the new laws ensure the integrity of the voting process by preventing voter fraud.
            There has been little fraud documented to prove the restrictions are warranted, however.
            Judge Schroeder, appointed to the bench by Republican Pres. George W. Bush, was evenhanded, however, also disallowing Gov. Pat McCrory’s attempt to have the NCNAACP challenge to the Republican voting law thrown out altogether. That will have stopped any effort to having the law ruled ultimately ruled unconstitutional in it’s tracks.
            Instead, there will now be a full trial in July 2015, something the Republican governor and the GOP-led Legislature had hope to avoid.
            Still, Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP, was not pleased that voters of color this fall, along with young people and the elderly, will be burdened with the new voter restrictions in casting their ballots during the crucial midterm elections.
            “If one elderly or young person, black, white or Latino decides she won’t vote because of the shorter early voting weeks, the elimination of same-day voting, the confusing ballots without straight party voting and the other sections of this voter suppression law that are still standing because of [Friday’s] court decision, that is indeed an irreparable harm,” Rev. Barber said in a statement.
            “The harm is irreparable to the voter…and to our democracy. Similarly, people who have heard all the talk about having photo ID’s and decide they can’t vote this November because they don’t have one, will suffer irreparable harm.”
            The voter photo identification requirement won’t actually be enforced until 2016, but voters were being asked if they had one at polling places during the May primaries.
            “The Court appears to have lost touch with the fears and rumors that pervade poor communities, and it ignores the long history of voter suppression tricks that take advantage of these fears and rumors,” Rev. Barber added.
            NCCU Law Prof. Irving Joyner, who leads the legal team which filed one of three lawsuits against the GOP voting restrictions, expressed disappointment in Judge Schroeder’s ruling, but still felt good that the judge saw enough merit in the case for it to proceed to trial next fall.
            We have great confidence in the strength of the our case,” Joyner said in a  statement. We learned from this preliminary round and will be ready to try the case as soon as possible. For now, we must engage in intensive voter education and mobilization.”
            ‘This preliminary setback motivates our members and friends to work harder in the upcoming election,’ Joyner added.


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