Monday, October 6, 2014




By Cash Michaels

“PARDONS” AT NC NAACP STATE CONVENTION – Two weeks ago, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” made its national debut in Washington, DC during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference.
            This week, the NNPA – CashWorks HD Productions presentation about one of the most notorious cases of judicial injustice in the history of North Carolina makes its way to the NC NAACP State Convention in Fayetteville this Saturday, October 11th, 9:30 p.m. right after the Freedom Funs Banquet keynoted by former national NAACP Chairman Julian Bond.
            So if you’re attending the state NAACP Convention in Fayetteville this week, make sure you don’t leave without seeing “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten.” Everyone who has seen it says it’s an important film, especially for our young people to see.
FINISHED WITH “BLACK-ISH” – Last week I gave you my impressions of the pilot episode of ABC’s new situation comedy, “Black-ish” starring Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross and Lawrence Fishburne, who is also a producer of the show.
I wrote that my normal rule is to give new shows at least three episodes to straighten themselves out before I decide if they’re worth my time of not In the case of “Black-ish,” I’ve given it one-and-a-half shows before deciding that I’ve seen enough, and there’s little redemption.
“Black-ish” is turning out to be just a rude, unfunny cartoon show, and I do not like it. I’m not sure if I would like the show if the cast were white. As I’ve said before, I know what the producers are trying to do – namely trying to show the humor in a middle-class black family trying to maintain some sense of African-American culture – but so far it’s not working for me.
The writing is not sharp; the characters are too, too silly; and the pace is warp speed.
Oh, and did I say the show isn’t funny.
Now last week, “Black-ish” lost a whopping 24 percent of its premiere episode audience from the week before, which is not a good sign at all. I suspect that ABC will give it two more outings (if that many) before yanking the chord on this turkey.
Sorry folks, I wanted so badly to support this show, but the cooks in the kitchen simply don’t have the right recipe yet, and may not get the chance to come up with one.
“HOW TO GET AWAY WITH…” – But alas, no matter how interesting “How to Get Away With Murder,” the latest show in the Shonda Rhimes – ABC-TV empire to darken out screens is, it still crosses the line, just like “Scandal.”
I understand wholeheartedly that shows, in an effort to reach a younger demographic, are trying hard to compete with the sexual freedom that you find on cable channels like HBO and Showtime. But on broadcast television, when I tune in to watch anything, I do not expect to see two young men buck-naked kissing and rolling around in bed. I get it that there are people like that, and power to them in what they do behind closed doors…but that does NOT mean that I have to see it in my home without warning.
Thus, being smacked in the face with it on “How to Get Away With Murder” last week was most unpleasant. Mind you, I don’t mind that it’s in the show, but I just don’t want to see it.
Otherwise, I’ve seen the first two episodes thus far, and as expected, Viola Davis as the lead character Annalise Keating is holding everything together with a strong performance. I’m just wondering how long a superb and versatile actress like Davis is going to stay on a TV series, which she should tire of in at least two years. Let’s see how the series unfolds.
 PAULA DEEN AND STEVE – Don’t ask me what’s going on with comedian Steve Harvey all of a sudden embracing former Food Network star Paula Deen, even enlisting her to give cooking lessons to black children at his summer camp. Yes, I believe in redemption, but to be more precise, I believe in PROVEN redemption, and thus far, I haven’t seen it from Deen in the aftermath of the lawsuit last year which revealed her racist comments and attitudes towards some of her black employees.
I know that she’s been making the rounds on “The Today Show” and other outlets professing that she’s turned a new leaf, but thus far I’ve seen no evidence of it.
But then I have a question for Steve Harvey, who seems to be doing quite well with his national radio program, TV talk show and hosting “Family Feud” – you couldn’t find a popular black cook to mentor black children, someone who could role model success for them so that they could see themselves and their potential. Instead, you recruit a woman who, if you Google her name, you get things like Deen admitting to using the n-word, and wanting black men to portray slaves at her restaurants like in the old days of the South.
Yes, I believe in forgiveness but only after I’ve seen some sorrow and REAL redemption. This woman is about money. What has she contributed to the cause to help the needy? Or is this just a stunt to help her regain her empire and endorsements?
Sorry, Steve, but your word is not good enough for me to forgive Paula Deen. Put some real redemption on the table, and then we can talk.
But not before.
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.


Supreme Court Blocks Appeals Court Order, Obstructs Access to Ballot by Reinstating Restrictive Voting Measures
A Statement from the North Carolina NAACP and Advancement Project

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, the Supreme Court blocked the mandate issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to instate a preliminary injunction on key provisions of North Carolina’s H.B. 589, a massive voter suppression law. By granting a stay on the injunction, the Supreme Court’s ruling means that voters will no longer be able to benefit from same-day registration and out-of-precinct provisional voting this election cycle. The North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and Advancement Project, which challenged H.B. 589, along with the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and North Carolina lawyers Adam Stein and Irving Joyner, issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling:

“We are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. Tens of thousands of North Carolina voters, especially African-American voters, have relied on same-day registration, as well as the counting of ballots that were cast out of precinct, for years. As the appeals court correctly concluded, eliminating these measures will cause irreparable harm of denying citizens their right to vote in the November election – a right that, once lost, can never be recovered. The Forward Together Moral Movement will continue our fight for voting rights, making sure that, county by county, as many votes as possible are counted despite the barriers posed by the Supreme Court’s ruling. We will also charge onward in court, in the full trial next summer, to ensure that this restrictive and discriminatory law is permanently overturned.”

“North Carolina lost vital tools for expanding the franchise,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda D. Hair. “Abridging the voting rights of African Americans by eliminating same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting is a far greater burden than any administrative changes that the State would have had to make by simply preserving those measures— which tens of thousands of North Carolina voters have already been using for the past three general elections. Same-day registration had provided a safety net for voters who go to the polls during early voting but find there is a problem with their registration. Out-of-precinct voting provided the same assurance for voters who did everything necessary to participate, but mistakenly voted at the wrong location within their county. With the Supreme Court’s decision blocking the injunction ordered by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, voters of color, who used these measures at significantly higher rates than White voters, will face higher barriers to the ballot box this November. And as Justice Ginsburg indicated in her dissent, North Carolina’s H.B. 589 would have never passed under the federal pre-clearance of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. We will continue working to restore the rights of North Carolina voters and to ensure that elections are free, fair and accessible for all.”

By Cash Michaels

            The state NAACP is seeking a private autopsy on the body of 17-year-old Lennon Lee Lacy of Bladenboro to determine evidence surrounding his hanging death. Authorities have told Lacy’s family that the young man committed suicide. However, neither the family, nor any of Lacy’s friends believe it, and point to various scratches and bruises found on his body that cause them doubt.
            Attorney Irving Joyner, chairman of the NCNAACP Legal Redress Committee, told The Carolinian that the NCNAACP is asking with information on the case to come forward and help put the pieces together.
            “Right now we are seeking to get additional information,” attorney Joyner told The Carolinian. “There will be an effort to get an autopsy performed by an independent examiner, as well as collecting information from anybody else that might have information to share about this.”
            Joyner continued, “We’re in the investigative mode. We’re trying to find out, and make sure that the family is satisfied with the information that comes forward.”
            Even though scant media reports indicated that the body of Lennon Lee Lacy was found in a local Bladenboro mobile home park on the morning of Friday, August 29th, it wasn’t until The Carolinian and Wilmington Journal newspapers, responding to calls from the community to investigate, published an interview with Lacy’s mother Claudia, where she detailed how her son was found hung from a swingset at the mobile home park.
            “What hurts me [most] is not knowing,” she told The Carolinian during a telephone interview three weeks ago, indicating that she was not pleased with how the case was being handled by the Bladenboro police or the State Bureau of Investigation.
            “I just want to get to the bottom of it.”
            According to Ms. Lacy, on Friday, August 29th, the local police chief came to her home, “ …and informed me that I needed to follow him to the crime scene. At that point they told me that one of the neighbors found [Lennon] hanging, which she thought was someone standing. As she approached, she saw he was hanging. She cut him down, and tried administering CPR or whatever to revive him, but she was unsuccessful. She called the police dept.”
Claudia Lacy says Lennon – the youngest of four sons  and  a junior attending West Bladen High School where he starred on the football team - was at home the night before, but left to go out. She says his friends have told the family that Lennon visited a girl he was dating, then walked over to a friend’s house to talk. Lennon was last seen between 1-1:30 a.m. that night.
            Ms. Lacy says authorities told her that Lennon was hung with “a nylon rope-type material.” But she says the SBI also told her something else that she and her family find very hard to believe.
            She says that on Sept. 2nd, they told her Lennon’s death looked like a suicide, and that a preliminary autopsy had been performed, but not completed.
It was last week when Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP, went to Bladenboro and held a community rally and memorial service on behalf of Lennon Lacy. He said that he met with Bladen County District Attorney Jon David about the case, and asked the community for any tips it may have to prove that Lacy was murdered.
On another front, The NC NAACP and its coalition partners were celebrating a major victory when a three-judge panel of the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last week granted an emergency preliminary injunction to stop at least two provisions of North Carolina’s new voter restriction laws prior to the Nov. 4th General Election. But on Wednesday, the US Supreme Court overturned the ruling, meaning that 2013 voter restrictions passed by the Republican-led General Assembly will now be in force for the Nov. 4th elections.
The Lennon Lacy case, along with the US Supreme Court ruling, are just two of many issues to be discussed during this weekend’s 71st Annual NC NAACP State Convention in Fayetteville starting today through Saturday, October 11th.
            The convention will be held at the Embassy Suites Fort Bragg 4760 Lake Valley Drive in Fayetteville.
            According to a NC NAACP statement, “At the convention, various committees within the NC NAACP will discuss its Get Out the Vote strategies, its battles against voter suppression, and the progress of the HKonJ coalition among other agenda items. On the last day, Rev. Dr. Barber will give an analysis on the state of civil rights in North Carolina and across the country, and candidates for U.S. Senate will give 15-minute-long presentations on their plans to represent the people of North Carolina.”
            Former national NAACP Chairman Julian Bond is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the Freedom Fund Banquet Saturday evening.

            After the banquet, the NC NAACP is sponsoring a screening of the NNPA-Cashworks HD Productions presentation of “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten,” the story of how the NC NAACP joined with the Black Press and other groups to champion the exoneration of ten falsely convicted civil rights activists.

                                  CSI DIRECTOR DENNIS GADDY

By Cash Michaels

            Editor’s note – On Saturday, October 18th, Community Success Initiative, a nonprofit reentry program for the formerly incarcerated, will celebrate its tenth anniversary with its “I’m for Second Chances” Luncheon at St. Matthews AME Church Fellowship Hall, 1629 Bennett Place (located beside Lions Park) Raleigh, 27610. For more information email
It was 2004 when a man named Dennis Gaddy saw the need to help those being released from prison to develop skills, find work, and start families in order to divorce themselves from a life of crime.
Gaddy knew this firsthand. He spent five-and-a-half years incarcerated for “some poor choices I made in the mid-nineties,” but survived his imprisonment through the help of caring family and friends that helped him hit the ground running upon his release.
“I come to this work kind of by obligation,” the CSI executive director recently told a gathering on re-entry issues at UNC’s Friday Center. “I had to be in prison, but prison didn’t have to be in me.”
            So with the help of others, Gaddy started Community Success Initiative, a pioneering nonprofit group devoted to assisting the formerly incarcerated.
             Indeed, eighty percent of the staff at CSI are formerly incarcerated men and women who skillfully counsel the just released, helping them to cope, readjust, and develop the skills and confidence to find a new job amid a marketplace that is hostile to the formerly incarcerated.
In the past ten years, “CSI” has not only changed the lives of at least 1200 men and women, but it has also championed public policy changes that have helped to reduce crime, and rebuild hope.
            ‘There are more people coming home from jail in the next ten years than in any time in our history,” Gaddy told The Carolinian.  “We began to just bring people together to cross-pollinate ideas to find out who’s involved and who needed help.”
            A look at the numbers illustrates that the need is definitely there.
            According to the April 2014 report from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2005, an estimated two-thirds of those released from prison in thirty states committed a crime within three years. In addition, three out of four released inmates committed crimes within five years.
            In many cases, re-entry advocates say, there is no employment, no home, and certainly no hope waiting for these inmates after their release from prison.
            “Anytime, when a person gets out of jail or gets down on their luck, and can’t find work, he’s going to find a way – whether it’s stealing or something – to get a dollar to make sure he can live,” says Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.
            “[CSI] puts that person out there and [shows] him the value of making the dollar himself…in getting that job and feeling secure that he’s earned an honest dollar.”
            Without groups like CSI in North Carolina, Gaddy has no doubt that the crime rate would explode as an estimated 750,000 formally imprisoned re-enter society nationally, many without the necessary skills or foundation to become productive, or access to jobs, housing and human services.
            Members of the North Carolina General Assembly agree.
            “Dennis and CSI are pioneers in working on ex-offender and re-entry issues,” State Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Vance) told The Carolinian. “No other organization in the state has taken such a comprehensive approach.”
            Sen. Bryant credits Gaddy with pushing for her and other lawmakers to start a legislative study commission on legal and statutory public policy changes needed to help the formerly incarcerated transition back into society as smoothly as possible.
Many prospective employers were resistant initially in hiring those they had determined had spent time in prison. Thanks to CSI and it’s statewide partners’ efforts, job applications were banned from having questions about previous felony convictions in Charlotte city government, Durham city and county governments, Cumberland County government, and Carrboro town government, questions that automatically disqualified the formerly incarcerated from gainful employment.
Gaddy says that CSI and its partners are now working on getting the Legislature to pass a state law mandating “banning the box” for state employment applications.
In 2011, thanks to those CSI legislative efforts, the annual “Second Chance” Lobby Days began at the NC General Assembly to bring re-entry advocates and the formerly incarcerated, otherwise known as the statewide re-entry network, together with state lawmakers to press for reforms.
“It really makes a difference to those young men and young women who are coming back home,” says state Rep. Garland Pierce (D-Scotland), who also worked closely with Gaddy on the study commission. “He’s been in my district and other districts, traveling the state of North Carolina, spreading his message, and he’s been doing a great job.”
            Over the past ten years, CSI has turned the re-entry effort into an art form, with a development director tasked with securing commitments from the private sector for jobs and support; partnerships with sponsors like PNC Bank and Wake Technical College – both of whom conduct self-development classes to help clients become better prepared for opportunities; an adult case manager to help guide clients through the challenges; classes in everything from money management to how to apply for and keep a job; and legal assistance to advocate for clients with residual issues.
            Wayne Eaton is one of CSI’s reentry success stories. He readily admits to being a troublesome felon who was headed full speed down a path of self-destruction…until Dennis Gaddy and CSI came along, and helped Eaton take a hard, serious look at himself and his future.
            “There’s a big difference in my life now,” says Eaton, who is attending college and has welcomed a new baby to his marriage. “I’m still pinching my arm. This is reality. It’s just a whole 360 in my life.”
            Gaddy says the statistics are clear – if a formerly incarcerated person hasn’t committed a crime in seven or more years after release, chances are they never will. So moving quickly after release to help that person access the tools needed to turn his or her life around is imperative, and every bit of community support CSI can muster towards that end is appreciated.
            “Our prisons are filled with people that don’t know how to get up, that every time they did, someone just smacked them back down, and they think that is where they belong,” attorney Lynn Burke, a CSI volunteer and formerly incarcerated person, told The Carolinian. “And over 60-70 percent don’t belong [in prison]. Some of them do, but most of them don’t.”
            State government also sees CSI as an essential partner, says Myra Beatty, Special Project manager with the NC Division of Workforce Solutions. The agency has partnered with CSI to reach hundreds of people with criminal records who need a special chance to become part of the social fabric.
            “I have never seen anything like what goes on [at CSI],” Beatty said. “I believe in CSI, Dennis Gaddy, and the things that they do.”
            Indeed Gaddy is very proud of his CSI team, CSI’s Board headed by Lemuel Thornton, their accomplishments, the partnerships that they’ve forged, and the many once-crippled lives that they changed for the better.
            “Dennis Gaddy is a modern-day Joseph,” said Rev. Dr. William Barber, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro and president of the NCNAACP, when he introduced Gaddy to his congregation. Rev. Barber aid if ever he thinks of giving up, he remembers the courage of CSI and Gaddy.
            So what’s on Dennis Gaddy’s wish list as CSI enters it’s next ten years? More community volunteers to mentor the formerly incarcerated. More private sector companies supporting the effort and providing job opportunities. And more donations to the cause.
            “With limited resources we’re able to do some pretty good things, ” Gaddy said. “Imagine what we could do with the public’s help.”
            For more information about CSI, call 919-614-2369, or go to



            [RALEIGH] For the second straight US senatorial debate, Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan failed to say anything about Republican opponent House Speaker Thom Tillis’ role in the passage of laws that critics see as suppressing black and young voters at the polls. In fact, it was Tillis, not Hagan, who brought up the voter ID issue Tuesday evening during the televised face-off. Observers note that Sen. Hagan had no problem raising unequal pay for women, fighting for veterans and making college more affordable for students, but stayed far away from supporting the voting rights of a base constituency, namely black voters, that she cannot win re-election without. The first-term Democrat currently holds a 4-point led over Tillis in the polls four weeks out from the November 4th general election.

            [GREENSBORO] Thanks to the US Supreme Court’s refusal to rule on the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturning Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, a federal judge in North Carolina has issued a ten-day stay on same-sex marriages until October 16th, giving all sides a chance to file arguments in court. Because North Carolina falls under the jurisdiction of the 4th Circuit, the appellate’s Virginia ruling automatically cancels out the state’s 2012 constitutional amendment making same-gender marriage illegal. Though Gov. McCrory says North Carolina will ultimately abide by the law, state Republicans counter that they will continue to fight to maintain marriage being between one man and one woman.

            [RALEIGH] The new chancellor for Elizabeth City State University, Stacey Franklin Jones, met with a joint legislative committee earlier this week, and vowed to turn the embattled HBCU around from its falling enrollment and challenged academic programs. Jones, who has over thirty years of computer and math science experience, promised that changes at ECSU would be data-driven, and that the school would be rebranded within four years into a competitive, affordable academic institution that will emphasize interdisciplinary sciences. UNC System President Tom Ross praised Chancellor Jones as being up to the task, and the right choice for ECSU now.



            Despite recent court rulings, observers suggest that those who have not registered to vote yet for the Nov. 4th general election, do so by Friday, October 10th. That includes those who are already registered, but want to make certain that they are properly registered in their assigned precinct. A recent 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing same-day registration for early voting between Oct. 23rd and Nov. 1st still stands, but could be overturned if the US Supreme Court agrees with attorneys for the Republican-led Legislature.

            In an effort to reduce regional confusion, the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday voted to rename the Capital Area Transit system as “Go Raleigh” by the end of this year. That means that CAT buses will look differently as well. The renaming falls in line with both Durham and the Triangle Transit Authority renaming their systems “Go Durham” and “Go Transit” respectively. Cary and Chapel Hill have yet to follow suit.

            Administrators with the Wake County Public School System apparently listened intently to criticisms from parents concerning the first draft of a proposed student assignment plan for 2015-16, and came back on Tuesday with 14 changes in the second draft that are more parent-friendly. Many of the changes include dropping many of the reassignments that moved some students from their current schools. The system currently serves 155,000 students, and is trying to manage explosive growth of at least 2,000 pupils per year.


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