Saturday, January 10, 2015



            Last week, The Carolinian erroneously reported that the Raleigh City Council had formally accepted a recommendation from city staff and its Budget and Economic Development Committee to accept a bid from developer Transfer Company, LLC for the vacant Stone’s Warehouse on East Davie Street. In fact, the council, at District C City Councilman Eugene Weeks’ request, delayed acceptance of the bid until the next council meeting in order to gain clarity on what will happen to the adjacent Rex Senior Health Center if the bid is accepted. We apologize for the error.




by Cash Michaels

            “SELMA” – I thought I would never say this, but Steven Spielberg, you blew it. You see, years ago, Spielberg purchased the rights to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most famous speeches, in anticipation of making a film about the beloved civil rights leader’s life and work.  I personally of at least one very talented young man who sent an audition tape to Spielberg’s DreamWorks production company, hoping to be considered for the lead role.
            But Spielberg never moved. Then a few years ago, producers not associated with King decided to make a film about the historic 1965 march on Selma, Ala. led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. When the producers decided on a director, independent filmmaker Ava DuVernay, she ran into a problem…a big problem. The rights to Dr. King’s speeches during this period had been sold to Spielberg. She couldn’t use them.
            So Duvernay did the next best thing – she wrote new speeches for Dr. King for the film, “Selma.”
            That was one of the many risks associated with this extraordinary film, but it paid off handsomely. “Selma,” which stars British actors David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejojo as Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, is beyond a masterpiece of storytelling. Under the visionary direction of Duvernay, the film is not a dry retelling of civil rights history, and nor is it a documentary, but rather a rich revelation of the injustice faced by African-Americans when it came to the ballot box and the right to vote, and the emotions, courage and frustrations shared by a gallant group of Americans, led by Dr. King, to ensure the right to vote for everyone.
            Duvernay is a patient, careful storyteller. Her images are bold, yet carefully proportioned. There is no show-off, no abuse of the tools of filmmaking, but rather a well-paced flow that allows the moviegoer a chance to absorb and fully experience what is unfolding before them.
            So when there is shock, it is real. Sadness, it is unceasing. Anger, it’s beyond righteous.
            Strangely enough, there isn’t  a lot of humor in “Selma,” but it isn’t missed, because when there is joy, it is genuine.
            As for the actors, it is quite ironic, indeed, that four of the top performers in the film portraying historically American icons…are British.
            Oyelowo as Dr. King, Ms. Ejojo as Coretta Scott King, Tom Wilkerson as President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Tim Roth as Alabama Gov. George Wallace.
            All of them give top flight performances, each one infused with all of the fire and passion you would expect.
            David Oyelowo is beyond magnificent, giving us a Dr. King of many complexities and conflicts. A leader holding the American power structure accountable for its failings, but a man who also must account for his personal failings and weaknesses to his wife and family.
            Oyelowo is a disciplined actor who we’ve seen before in such films as “Lincoln,” “Red Tails,” and of course, “The Butler.” He gives his portrayal of Dr. King not only the same dignity and earnestness that history has taught us to expect, but also a humanity and common quality that may surprise some.  King smoking a cigarette to relieve stress, or sitting down at the table with his colleagues eating greens and cornbread, shootin’ the bull and laughing.
            The nominations for the 2015 Academy Awards were scheduled to be announce this morning, and if David Oyelowo’s name was not among them, folks need to do Ferguson-style marches around the joint. Last year, even though “12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture and got a slew of well deserved nominations, the also outstanding “The Butler” didn’t even merit one nomination, which was criminal.
            Leaving Oyelowo, director Ava DuVernay, or any one of the other outstanding headliners of “Selma” out would be a capital crime, in my opinion. At the Golden Globes Sunday, only the song “Glory” by Common and John Legend won.
That’s peanuts (though the song is good).
            Indeed, the other actor who just floored me with her intensity and dignity was Carmen Ejojo. She MUST be a Best Actress nominee. Ejojo’s Coretta Scott King was a powerful woman of great dignity who stood with, not behind Dr. King, giving him the strength to move forward, knowing that she was home protecting the children.
            But Ejojo’s Mrs. King was also a woman who challenged Dr. King, while at the same time asking herself if she was doing enough to help in the movement. Ejojo portrays a woman under great pressure as the threatening phone calls came daily, and the FBI sent letters and tapes to her, questioning her husband’s fidelity.
            Ejojo is the perfect balance to Oyelowo’s Dr. King in every respect. She stands toe-to-toe with him on the screen. This role was made for her, and she deserves maximum recognition.
            And did I mention that Oprah Winfrey is in the film, although, to her credit, she in no way overshadows the story, or even tries to. As Annie Lee Cooper, a black woman who repeatedly tries to register to vote and is rejected, Winfrey brings discipline and maturity to the small role, and all of it is welcomed.
            The supporting cast is excellent, with Common as James Bevel, Tom Wilkerson as Pres. Johnson, Tim Roth as Alabama Gov. George Wallace, Coleman Domingo as Ralph Abernathy, Stephan James as John Lewis and Lorraine Toussaint as Amelia Boynton Robinson, among so many others.
            This is a superb production that you and yours should take the time this weekend to see in honor of Dr. King and his legacy. Support this film.
            CONTROVERSY – Four of the five Best Picture Golden Globe nominees this year were all based on true stories, including “Selma.” But please make note of the  word “based,” meaning that none of the films were documentaries, but rather dramatizations. That means the producers used the real stories as the basis to take dramatic license with what ultimately showed up on the screen. It happens all the time.
            I bring this up because of the recent controversy surrounding “Selma,” and the charge that President Lyndon Johnson’s relationship with Dr. King in the film was mischaracterized as being adversarial. The film shows Johnson dragging his feet on pushing immediately for voting rights legislation when King asked him to.
            Those who were there at the time say it wasn’t that way, and that Johnson was very receptive to King’s request, and worked to make it happen.
            Clearly, having a reluctant president added more tension to the story, though one wonders if that was really needed to be contrived. But the blurring of the facts, in this case, should not take away from the sheer power and beauty of this tremendous film.
            I suggest that you research the true facts of the Johnson – King relationship, but still enjoy the film.
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.

ESPN Sportscaster Stuart Scott, who died of cancer at age 49, was remembered as a caring, giving man who loved life, and fought hard against the disease that would ultimately claim his life. Last Friday, hundreds attended the wake for Scott at Providence Baptist Church, including champion golfer Tiger Woods. On Saturday, hundreds more joined Scott’s family in saying goodbye during funeral services, with burial at the Raleigh Memorial Park. The Jimmy V Foundation, the fundraising foundation that Scott supported in honor of the late NCSU Wolfpack Coach Jim Valvano, has now setup a Stuart Scott Memorial Fund for those who want to donate in memory of the late sportscaster. Go to for more.

            It was a beaming Gov. Pat McCrory and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane who told reporters Monday that after two years of haggling, the state and city had finally reached a new agreement on the sale of the 308-acre Dorothea Dix campus downtown.  The city will pay $52 million for the property, but must be able to finance the deal by December 31st of this year to keep it in force. The 10-member Council of State must officially vote to finalize. The Raleigh City Council unanimously accepted the price tag early Monday.

            UNC – Chapel Hill will now require all students to take online training courses dealing with sexual harassment, with failure to do so resulting in students not being allowed to register for other courses. It’s all part of the school’s new compliance with federal regulations regarding sexual violence on campus. Students have 45 days to complete the training. Failure to do so delays they’re being able to register for other  courses. Faculty and staff are also required to take the training.


            [KINSTON] In 1956 as a member of the Kinston Eagles, he set the Carolina League record for the most RBI’s in a season with 111. He also played in the Negro Leagues with the likes of Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Satchel Paige. Carl Long, one of the most respected public figures in Kinston, was a baseball legend. He died Monday at the age of 79. Long retired from baseball in 1958, making history as the first black deputy sheriff in Lenoir County, and then the first black detective on the force in 1960. In 1972, Long left law enforcement to become the first black commercial bus driver, finally retiring in 1995. In 2013, Long’s autobiography titled, “A Game of Faith” was released.

            [RALEIGH] The state Legislature is back in session, opening Wednesday with new faces in leadership. Rep. Tim Moore, a Republican from Cleveland County, was officially installed as the new House speaker, replacing Thom Tillis, who left after winning his election to the US Senate. Speaker Moore is expected to choose new committee chairs and sub-chairs to consider legislation. Over in the Senate, Republican Sen. Phil Berger remains in charge.  With the 2016 gubernatorial election ahead, the key question is how will this General Assembly treat moderate Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. McCrory has clashed with conservative GOP lawmakers in the past, and he’s even suing the legislature over separate of powers.

            The governor dismisses it as a “left-wing” stunt, but Progress NC Action says there are serious questions that McCrory has not answered about payments he’s received after taking office, and it wants answers. The progressive advocacy group filed an ethic complaint Monday with the state requesting an investigation into why certain financial information belonging to the governor was not listed on his annual ethics disclose forms. According to the Associated Press, McCrory did not list his position on the board of the parent company of Lending and thus, should have made full disclosure when he was paid over $180,000. McCrory has said the omissions from his form were an oversight, and he’s done nothing wrong.

                            2015 ANNUAL KING HOLIDAY EVENTS

                                    (all events are free and open to the public)


6 p.m. -   Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Wreath Laying Ceremony at the MLK
                Memorial Gardens, corner of MLK Blvd and Rock Quarry Road in Raleigh.


7:15 a.m. -  Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast
                      at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Research Triangle Park
                    Doors open at 5:45 a.m. Breakfast is free from  6 a.m. to 8 a.m.
                    Keynote speaker – Dr. James H. Johnson, Jr., the William R. Kenan Jr.
         Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Director  
         Of the Urban Investment Strategies Center at UNC-Chapel Hill

10 am. -       Assembly for “40 Days of Peace” from, the Capitol Building (Edenton St.
                       side] March to Memorial Auditorium begins at 11 a.m.

12 noon -    Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Noon Ecumenical Observance
                       at Memorial Auditorium , 2 East South Street, Raleigh.
                     Keynote Sermon - The Reverend Dr. Cathy S. Gilliard, Presiding Bishop
                      of the New York Annual Conference and Senior Minister of Park Avenue
                      United Methodist Church , NY.  

5:30 p.m. -   Annual MLK Evening Musical Celebration
                        at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East South Street
                        featuring national recording artist Jakelyn Carr

By Cash Michaels
Staff writer

            Next month, when the State Executive Committee of the State Democratic Party convenes, it will elect a new party chairman. Many observers say the direction of the party will change, and maybe even moderate a bit in response to the last two years of progressive leadership under current Chairman Randy Voller.
            With the 2016 gubernatorial and presidential races on the horizon, in addition to another round of state legislative and congressional contests, the NC Democratic Party is playing catch-up to its Republican rival.
The GOP has the Governor’s Office, in addition to state and congressional legislative majorities. Whoever next leads state Democrats from among the four announced candidates for chair thus far, is faced with the monumental task of uniting a severely fractured party that is still at war with itself.
            Indeed, at least one Democratic state lawmaker from the Outer Banks has left the party, while some rural Democratic legislators have announced forming a new centrist group called “Main Street Democrats,” which will depart from the state party when warranted.
            And last month, Grace Galloway, a progressive who served as the Eighth Congressional State Party Chair, announced in a scathing open letter that she was stepping down and leaving the party because “I thought about all of the time wasted sniping, fighting and having our real Democratic values compromised, and I realized that the Democratic Parry that I originally knew is no longer – what is left is a group of people who continue to pursue the wrong paths and thus lose elections.”
            For Voller’s part, he feels he’s done what he’s needed to do to lead, though he admits that some troubling personal mishaps along the way, along with some intra-party battles, served as unfortunate distractions which fomented some disunity. The bad media, which blew up many situations, didn’t help matters either, he says.
            To add to the problems, fundraising became more of a challenge as the party contribution tax return check-off was stopped by the Republicans, causing at least a $1 million deficit in state Democratic coffers.
            It was right after the tortuous November mid-term elections, where Democrats failed to take back either house of the state Legislature, and incumbent US Sen. Kay Hagan lost re-election by a hair to state House speaker Thom Tillis, that Voller announced he would not be vying for a second term.
            Even though the party chair had little to do with Hagan’s campaign strategy – especially after she moved affiliation from the state headquarters to the Wake Democratic Party – Voller took responsibility for her loss, saying that as chair, it happened on his watch.
            Voller says now that given all of the controversy and upheaval of the previous two years, he decided to “take personalities out of it by removing myself” so that the party could move forward.
            “However I’m not removing myself from the fight or the things that I believe in or [Democrats] believe in as well,” the chairman vowed. “I will keep the fight going.”
Voller laments what he calls “a mistake” in the November mid-term elections that Democrats, not just in North Carolina, but across the nation, made during their campaigns, and that was “distancing themselves from their values.” Several blue dog moderate Democrats, like Sen. Hagan, portrayed themselves as neither left nor right, and because they saw it important to attract as many right-leaning independent voters as possible, they even turned their backs on President Obama, using the fact that his poll numbers were low as an excuse.
            The Democratic US Senate candidate in Kentucky went so far as to refuse to admit publicly that she has ever voted to elect Pres. Obama, even the voting rolls clearly show that she did. And Sen. Hagan, who was never over 50 percent in the polls, chose to blast the president for problems at the Veterans Administration when he came to the state, even though Obama had already installed a new secretary and had ordered top to bottom fixes of many of the problems causing delays in veteran treatment.
            In addition, black voters, who make up a good deal of base of the Democratic Party, were virtually ignored by the Hagan campaign.
            In effect, Democratic candidates were running as “GOP-lite,” asking the voters to choose between them and the real thing.
            Voller says that didn’t work because, in effect, voters weren’t really given a choice. If they were right-leaning already, then why not vote for the real Republican. If they were progressive, voting for a moderate Democrat claiming to be a “better” Republican was hard to swallow.
            Thus, Democratic turnout among the base was stifled.
            “If you get more people to the polls, and they understand clearly what Democrats stand for, we win, “ Chairman Voller says.
            What was more baffling was why Democrats didn’t tout their accomplishments – namely an increasingly improving economy; over 50 straight months of economic growth; falling gas prices; a plummeting jobless rate and a moneymaking stock market; 10 million more Americans had health insurance.
For all of the Washington sniping and concerns about the Islamic State and an Ebola outbreak, there was real good news to tout, but Democratic candidates cowered in telling it, allowing Republicans to dictate the agenda, and grab victory with a much-improved aggressive voter turnout machine.
            “Democrats have an issue with having a backbone,” the chairman says. “You can’t be GOP-lite. You’ve got to be what you are. Too many people want to push us into a position where no one knows the difference.”
            “It makes better sense to stand up for what you believe, and grow your base,” Voller maintains.
            Compared to other states, the Democratic Party in North Carolina didn’t do that badly in the midterms. Democrats took five of six judicial races, picked up three legislative seats (even though one Democratic House member has since left to become an unaffiliated who will caucus with the Republicans), won 54 percent of all down-ballot local races across the state (including sweeping four conservative Republican Wake County commissioners out of power). 
            Still, Voller feels there could have been more success if the national Democratic Party had invested more resources into building the party locally, instead of just building campaigns. By helping to build county party organizations, the infrastructure would already be in place to maintain organizing and mobilization, as opposed to just campaigns which have to start and stop by their very definition.
            Investing in that party infrastructure could have increased turnout and won North Carolina for President Obama in 2012 (he lost the state by 100,000 votes Mitt Romney after winning the state in 2008 by just 15,000), and certainly Kay Hagan (who lost re-election by less than 50,000 votes).
            “To me, it’s the level of commitment and investment. If we’re telling people we’re the party for the little guy, we’re the party for small business, we’re the party for Main Street, and when you have the chance to buy advertising with those businesses and you don’t, then there’s a disconnect, and you depress the level of enthusiasm.”
            Chairman Voller also has no doubt that the voting restrictions passed by the Republican-led NC General Assembly eliminating same-day registration and shortening the early voting period had an impact on voter turnout in the Democratic base, and he hopes that the July federal trial changing those laws will be successful in removing them before the 2016 primaries and general election.
The one-term chairman says after he steps down, he will still be involved in progressive politics and the Democratic Party from Chatham County to move the state forward.
Chairman Voller considers his two-year tenure successful, given the electoral bloodbath other states suffered last November during the midterms. He sees the future strong for the state party, but only if it holds to Democratic principles and values.
“I think we did things in the state Democratic Party which have set it up to be successful in the future,” said the one-time mayor of Pittsboro.  “ I wish things had been smoother so that I could continue on, and continue implementing these things. But I think that we set things up in such a way that whether I’m chairman or not, we can continue to implement things to make the party effective, competitive, and win the battle of ideas, and thus win elections.”

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