Monday, March 30, 2015



By Cash Michaels

            WHAT AN HONOR – Talk about the stratosphere, that’s what last weekend was all about.
            On Sunday, the last day of the NC Black Film Festival in Wilmington, our film, “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten” was honored with the second place prize in the Best Documentary category. Would I have been more thrilled with first place? Of course, but I’m not unhappy by any stretch.
            The First Place winner was a remarkable documentary titled, “Changing Faces of Harlem,” produced by veteran New York filmmaker Shawn Batey. She spent ten years documenting the gentrification of Black America’s most cherished community, and how big business has now taken it over, pushing traditional black residents out.
            The Third Place winner was an extraordinary film titled, “Hilton Head Island: Back in the Day Through the Eyes of the Gullah Elders,” directed by Butch Hirsh and produced by his wife, Carrie Hirsh, examining the legendary culture of the Gullah Geechie people in South Carolina.
            There were other great documentary entries at the festival as well, but these were the top three, and “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten” was smack in the middle.
            So I’m very proud that our film, a coproduction between the National Newspaper Publishers Association and CashWorks HD Productions, was considered among the best.
            Thanks to the NC Black Film Festival for the great honor, and for an excellent weekend of fellowship, film and instruction. I not only got the chance to see some amazing work by some fantastic fellow filmmakers, but also got great information to help better promote our films.
            Plus, we all got to tour Screen Gems Studios, and visit legendary camera genius Joe Dunton (who convinced me that with the proper lenses and light, you could shoot a great film on an iPhone}.
            So all in all, this year’s NC Black Film Festival was a great experience indeed. I can’t wait to return for next year.
            BURGAW – In the midst of the film festival, we went to the town of Burgaw in Pender County for a special engagement – screening “Pardons of Innocence: The Wilmington Ten” in the Pender County Courthouse, in the very courtroom where the Wilmington Ten had been falsely tried and convicted in Oct. 1972.
            Thanks to an invitation from Rochelle Whiteside of the Pender Arts Council, and Judge James Faison, at least 50 people came to the courtroom to see the film, and discuss it afterwards. The trial of the Wilmington Ten was an important event in the history of Burgaw, given that the case was moved from Wilmington/New Hanover County because of pre-trial publicity.
            For the first time, these citizens were able to see for themselves exactly what the case of the Wilmington Ten was all about, an how their courthouse was used to perpetrate an injustice to frame the ten civil rights activists.
            One woman told me that her mother was one of two black jurors who served on the second jury which convicted the Ten. She was seven years old at the time, and recalls how telephone calls would come to the house threatening her mother after she voted along with the ten white members and one black to convict the Ten. What she didn’t know, until I told her, was the he mother and the other black juror were deliberately selected because they domestic workers, and could be pressured with the loss of their jobs is they did not go along.
            We were there until ten p.m. that evening together, but it was an historic event with the people of Burgaw, one which I will never forget.
            DR. JOCKO – Last week came word that one of Raleigh’s great radio legends, Ray “Dr. Jocko” Henderson of the old WLLE-AM, had died in Detroit, Mich.
            Last January, while doing research for  mini-documentary on 570 WLLE, also affectionately known as “WiLLE”, I had the chance to interview Ray twice about his career in radio. Ray had been discovered by the legendary J. D. Lewis of WRAL fame, the first African-American to go one the air in Raleigh in the 1950s.
            When WLLE was born in February 1962, Ray was one of the first disc jockeys to take to the air under the guise of “Dr. Jocko”, a moniker Ray borrowed from a popular Philadelphia disc jockey.  Playing hits from James Brown, Little Richard and other hot black artists that white stations at the time would not play, it wasn’t long before Dr. Jocko became an institution in Raleigh.
            Years later, Ray left his hometown for Detroit, where he became and institution there on the air as well. He also began working for Motown Records, and later James Brown.
            In recent years Ray was struggling financially and in ill health.  He died last week sadly.
            On Wednesday, Ray Henderson was memorialized and buried in the historic Oakwood Cemetery. He was truly a legend.
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.


            The voting lines for the Wake County Commission Board are one step closer to being redrawn. Following the lead of the state Senate recently, the State House Elections Committee Tuesday night voted19-9 along party lines to redistrict Wake County from seven to nine, allegedly to allow for more rural and small town representation on the board. Critics say the bill is really a reaction to a Democratic sweep of the board last November. Supporters say all of the current board members come from in or around Raleigh. Countywide voting would be eliminated if passed, so district voters would only elect their own member, and one from the two new areas. At press time the measure hadn’t reached the House floor for a final vote.

            A student attending North Carolina Central University was killed in  a two-car crash on Highway 55 Tuesday evening, authorities say. Chekeira Renae Reid of Greensboro, a senior majoring in recreation administration, died from her injuries. Another NCCU student, Tariq Jamal Jacobs of Norfolk, a sophomore member of the NCCU Eagle football team, was injured in the accident. A memorial service was held Wednesday on campus. Authorities are still trying to determine what caused the crash.

            The ex-boyfriend of a 17-year-old Durham student has been charged with repeatedly stabbing her to death last Friday, and leaving her body behind a vacant home three miles from where she lived on Trotter Ridge Road. Durham Police say Kelton Breshon Fox, 17, committed first-degree murder when he allegedly killed Tierra Hall, 17. Both were students at Jordan High School. Hall’s body was found last Saturday afternoon. Police have not released a motive for the slaying. Her mother did not report her missing at first because the two had had an argument Friday.



            [RALEIGH] State House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, says lawmakers are going to move cautiously on their own version of a so-called “religious freedom” law so that it doesn’t hurt North Carolina’s “brand.” Moore is watching the huge controversy in Indiana after it passed a similar law last week, designed to allow businesses the right top discriminate against gay people on the basis of religious beliefs. Numerous corporations have blasted the state as a result, including the NCAA, which is holding the Final Four basketball tournament in Indianapolis this weekend. Supporters say the law “protects” religious liberties as guaranteed by the US Constitution.

            [CHARLOTTE] As of April first, it is even more cheaper to fill up your gas tank. That’s because the state Legislature has reduced the 37.5 cents per gallon gas tax by one-and-a-half cents a gallon, with more reduction to follow over the next 15 months. Lawmakers had to act quickly to stave off a greater loss of revenue thanks to the dramatic drop in gasoline prices in recent months. 36 cents per gallon will remain in force until December, then fall further to 35 cents in January 2016, and then 34 cents in July. In 2017, the tax will be adjusted just once a year, and the start to climb back up to 36 cents by 2019.

            [RALEIGH] Hard feelings between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and his GOP colleagues in the state Legislature are only intensifying, as the governor blasted them for considering new measures to redistribute sales tax revenue collections, and also establish a state law that legalizes religious discrimination against gay people. In a radio interview, McCrory called the sales tax plan “class warfare” because it would take tens of millions of dollars from richer counties and redistribute them to poorer counties, forcing property rates to rise in counties like Wake and Mecklenburg. The governor then said the proposed “religious freedom” bill “makes no sense,” further asking, “What is the problem they’re trying to solve?”


Tazra Mitchell of the Nc Justice Center
Special to The Carolinian Newspaper

        RALEIGH (April 1, 2015) – Poverty in North Carolina either climbed or stayed steady from 2007 to 2013, despite the economic recovery, according to a new report from the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. Both North Carolina’s off-kilter economy and policymakers’ decisions to cut back on vital supports for working families are keeping poverty high, as wages remain stagnant, economic gains bypass nearly everyone except those at the top, and lawmakers continue to enact policies that compound these economic disparities. 

In 2013, poverty in North Carolina – which is defined as a family of four living on less than $24,000 each year – was the most widespread it had been since before the turn of the century, the report said. The rate was 17.9 percent in 2013, the 11th highest in the nation, with the deep poverty rate and child poverty rate both the 12th highest.

“From the mountains to the coast, poverty-level incomes are a harsh reality for more than 1.7 million North Carolinians who find affording the basics such as rent, food, and utilities to be a daily challenge,” said Tazra Mitchell, a policy analyst with the BTC and author of the report. “Making it just a little easier for people to increase their earnings not only helps families struggling to pay the bills but also makes the economy stronger for all of us.”

Poverty has consequences for us all, and the depth of North Carolina’s economic hardship is closely tied to demographics as well as where one lives, the report said.
  • Race and gender play significant roles in poverty. Communities of color, women, and children are more likely to face economic hardships than whites, men, and older adults, respectively.
  • Racial disparities in income not only harm people of color but have consequences for all of us because inequities keep the economy from reaching its full potential. North Carolina’s Gross Domestic Product—a measure of all goods and services produced in the state—would have been $63.53 billion higher in 2012 if there had been no gaps in income by race and employment.
  • North Carolina’s child poverty rate was 25.2 percent in 2013, an increase of 6 percentage points since 2007. More than 4 in 10 children who grow up in poverty are likely to remain there as adults, with even less economic mobility for African American children.
  • Poverty’s reach varies considerably across the state, revealing a stark rural-urban divide. Out of the state’s 100 counties in 2013, the 45 highest county-level poverty rates were all in rural counties—up from 31 in 2012.
  • More North Carolinians live in high-poverty areas. Urban and suburban areas are contending with the growing concentration of poverty. In fact, the state’s metropolitan areas experienced some of the biggest jumps in the country for the number of people who are poor and living in high-poverty areas.
Work and income supports such the Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and temporary unemployment benefits helped lift 1.5 million North Carolinians – including 340,000 children – out of poverty each year, on average, from 2009 to 2013, under the Supplemental Poverty Measure. Unfortunately, in the last few years both state and federal lawmakers have cut back on these supports, making it harder for people who live paycheck to paycheck. In addition, tax cuts are costing upward of $1 billion this fiscal year and going forward, making it impossible to replace the most damaging cuts to anti-poverty programs and other vital services that lawmakers enacted in the aftermath of the recession.

“North Carolina needs policies that create equal opportunity, rebuild entryways to expand the ranks of the middle class, and ensure that prosperity is broadly shared so that all North Carolinians can reach their potential," Mitchell said. “Until lawmakers fix the state’s and the nation’s broken economic model, large numbers of people from Murphy to Manteo will wake up to poverty, struggle to put food on the table, and be unable to afford the basics like rent and child care.”

                                         RAY "DR. JOCKO" HENDERSON

by Cash Michaels

            On Wednesday, one of the pioneers of Raleigh black radio was laid to rest in historic Oakwood Cemetery, remembered not only for his talent, but promotion of “conversation, not confrontation” in the community during racial troubled times.
“Dr. Jocko,” whose real name was Raymond Henderson, died at home on March 24th in Detroit, Michigan after a prolonged illness. Had he lived, Henderson would have been 75 on May 31st.
Henderson was one of the first black disc jockeys to take to the air on Raleigh’s first black-formatted radio station, 570 WLLE – AM.
Last January, Henderson gave what would be his last interview by phone from Detroit for a documentary about WLLE titled “WLLE: The Voice of the Community,” produced by CashWorks HD Productions in association with NCSU’s Africana Studies Program and NCSU Libraries.
            That documentary, which was screened Feb. 12th at the James B. Hunt Library on NCSU’s Centennial Campus, will be shown again on May 2nd, 2:30 p.m. at the Olivia Rainey Library in Raleigh.
            Henderson received a copy of the film before he died. He was pleased to be fondly remembered as a radio pioneer in his hometown.
After graduating all-black J.W. Ligon High School in 1959, the Raleigh native learned announcing, while attending St. Augustine’s College, under the wing of Raleigh’s first black broadcaster, the legendary J. D. Lewis at 1240 WRAL-AM.
            “My line to him was, ‘when I grow up, I want to be like you,” Henderson recalls telling Lewis, who then hired the young man part-time, trained him, and allowed him to sit-in for him when the announcer went on vacation.
            At WRAL, Henderson, like Lewis, had tailor his announcing to white audiences, playing opera music. He also had to write down what he was going to say in his music intros and outros for the radio engineer so he would know how to sequence the program.
It wasn’t long before Henderson heard that a small white-owned 500-watt daytimer radio station in town at 570 AM called WSHE-AM, was going to change its call letters to WLLE-AM, and be black formatted for rhythm & blues and gospel music. Henderson, with a good reference from Lewis and WRAL management, applied to become an announcer there, and modeling himself after popular Philadelphia disc jockey Doug “Jocko” Henderson (no relation), Ray Henderson got permission to use the moniker “Dr. Jocko” on the air.
“I was in what you call ‘white radio’ at the time, because that’s all I knew, and I had to do what they did,” Henderson said. “But when I went to ‘LLE, naturally I had to change to a different kind of format.”
            570 WLLE-AM, otherwise known as “Wonderful WiLLiE” was born on February 15, 1962, and Raleigh’s black community was rocked to its socks to hear tunes by James Brown, Little Richard, the Shirelles and many other black artists none of the white general market stations in area were playing.
            “For the first time, we had broadcast alternative that belonged to us,” WLLE listener Fabette Smith told “WLLE: The Voice of the Community” documentary.
            But as an added bonus, the audience – which stretched from Raleigh to far down east thanks to the station’s nondirectional signal - was also getting the “rhymin’ and dimin’” of Dr. Jocko every weekday morning from 7- 9 a.m. right after Bro. James Thomas’ gospel program with “Breakfast with Dr. Jocko,” getting folks off to school and work with music, weather and tons of hip personality that made it all sound so good.
            “Hi-de-ho and hi-de-hee, why don’t you have breakfast with me? I’ve got the sausage and I’ve got the eggs, and the rock and roll music here by the kegs. If you get out of bed and put your feet on the flo’, you’ll be on time for a taste of breakfast with Dr. Jocko.”
            Doing split shifts, Dr. Jocko was back in the afternoon from 4 p.m. to sign-off (daytimer radio stations went off the air at sunset) to welcome the folks he’d sent off to work earlier that day on their way home.
            It didn’t take long for Dr. Jocko’s popularity to soar, especially since “WiLLiE” had the black radio market virtually to itself in Raleigh and surrounding areas. The closest competition was 1410 WSRC-AM 30 miles away in Durham, so when shows featuring big name acts like Otis Redding and Don Covay came through and stopped at Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium, Dr. Jocko, Oscar “Daddio” Alexander, Prince Ike “on the mike” Goode, Big Bill Haywood and other WLLE on-air personalities would MC, and became popular celebrities. Soon they were doing live remote broadcasts, hosting parties at clubs, dances, visiting schools and civic events.
            “This was during the civil rights era,” Ray Kaalund, one of the first blacks to work at 680 WPTF-AM, a general market station in Raleigh, says. “We didn’t have many [black] celebrities, so these guys weren’t only celebrities on the radio, but they spent time in the community. The community knew these people as everyday people, and they relied on them for the good music, and the news.”
            “There weren’t really many heroes, black heroes I’d say, in the area,” recalls Jimmy “JJ” Johnson, owner of Johnson Broadcast Ventures, Ltd., and former host of “JJ’s House Party” on WLLE in the late 1960’s. “But the radio announcers were personalities.”
            “I’ll always remember telling Dr. Jocko that when I was around him as a little boy, it was like I was in the presence of someone great.”
            And the females were ringing the in-studio phone off the hook, wanting to make personal connection with the new “sex symbols” in town. Henderson, a happily married man at the time, says the calls were good for the ego, but little else.
            “They loved to hear their names on the radio,” Henderson says. “Being a black jock had its perks.”
            For all of the local fame and notoriety, Henderson was only earning $50.00 a week from the station, in addition to any fees from personal appearances. But there was no question that to WLLE’s loyal listeners, his alter ego of  “Dr. Jocko” could do no wrong.
            “Loyalty, man, loyalty,” Henderson says of his WLLE listeners back in the day. “You couldn’t find more loyalty then to any other radio station in the state. We traveled all over, and the audience would come to see you. You were always welcomed.”
            Yes, the black radio station’s loyal listener base was always loyal, but it wasn’t always black. The new, raw and incredibly soulful sound was a revelation to many white listeners too, like Thad Woodard.
            “I heard it the day it came on, and it was like being called to some religious icon or something,” the former president of the NC Bankers Association recalls. “I had to go find out what was going on.”
            “I did, and I loved it, and I loved everyone there, I loved the music, and all that they did. I was hooked, totally hooked on WiLLiE radio throughout that period in my life,” Woodard says.
            As a young white 16-year-old Broughton High sophomore before integration, Woodard remembers hanging out at WLLE radio station, meeting his idol, Dr. Jocko. Today that wouldn’t bat an eye, but in the early 1960’s, Raleigh was still a segregated city, with whites and blacks living in separate worlds. That didn’t keep Woodard from befriending Dr. Jocko, traveling with him, and even getting backstage at big concerts to meet artists like Gladys Knight and James Brown.
            “His biggest thrill to date is having met James Brown,” Henderson recalls of his young protégé. Thad just fell in love with James, and James loved him.”
            “I don’t know what the attraction was [to WLLE and Dr. Jocko], except that I’ve got a lot of soul,” Woodard, who remained close friends with Henderson until the day he died, says with a smile.
            The notoriety of being a “WiLLiE” radio personality also came with some responsibilities. Henderson recalled that when there were potentially violent situations that would arise in the streets, city officials urged Dr. Jocko to get on the air and try to calm things down with his listeners. Woodard credits Dr. Jocko with working hard to maintain peace amid racial tensions at both Broughton and Enloe high schools during that time.
            “[The officials] would ask you to talk to the people, and you did that, and the people would do what you said to do,” Henderson said.
            Dr. Jocko was also on the air when students from both St. Augustine’s College and Shaw University took to the streets demanding civil rights. WLLE radio became a conduit for their message, having black leaders on the air, and reporting the latest news from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the NAACP.
            “We wanted equality, and were willing to fight for it…but we talked in a sense of trying to keep everything cool,” Henderson said, urging the community to “carry yourselves with respect and dignity.”
            In 1966, Dr. Jocko left his hometown for the big time radio market of Detroit, where he also became a legend. While there, he hosted a weekly TV dance show for teens called “The Scene,” modeled after the popular “Teenage Frolics” on Raleigh’s WRAL_TV hosted by his mentor, J. D. Lewis.
            During his career, Henderson also worked at 1410 WSRC-AM in Durham, as well as stations in Mobile, Alabama; and New Orleans, La..  Henderson also had stints in the record industry, working for both Motown and Mercury Records in their promotions departments.
            He also toured with James Brown around the world.
            In recent years, Ray Henderson fell onto hard times and ill health in Detroit. Thad Woodard and other loyal friends helped him all they could so he could pay the bills and stay active in retirement.
            In January 2013, Woodard brought Henderson home to Raleigh briefly so that he could be honored with the Citizenship Award at the Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast at the Sheraton in Research Triangle Park.
            “I said in my acceptance speech that you can go home again, because if you’ve done good for people, you will be remembered. Fortunately, we did our best.”
            In his later years, Henderson always found joy in meeting someone who remembered him from his old radio days who would tell him how much they enjoyed him.
            “I’ve had people just come to me and tell me what they used to hear me say, and I smile because, at that time, we never knew we had that kind of following that we did. A lot of the stuff I said was just silly stuff, but if it made you smile, “ Ray “Dr. Jocko” Henderson said, “it made me happy.”
            Henderson leaves behind his wife, four adult sons and one adult daughter, four grandchildren, and his brother, William.
            Memorial contributions may be made to Ray Henderson’s alma mater, St. Augustine’s University, c/o the Office of the President, 1315 Oakwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27610.


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