Monday, June 29, 2015



By Cash Michaels

            YOU’RE FIRED – Finally, NBC television has handed a long-deserved pink slip to one of the biggest bags of hot air this side of the Hindenburg.  And he ended up crashing just like that fateful balloon as well. Billionaire celebrity Donald Trump, an announced candidate for president of the United States (you just can’t beat that for entertainment value) is losing friends and business partners ion the media left and right, all because of his extraordinarily racist remarks about Mexicans coming across the border being “rapists” and bringing “crime.”
            And even after NBC tossed Mr. Strange Hair on his butt Monday, he continued to stand by his remarks. Afterall, Trump is running for president, and he has to portray himself as tough against an apparently (in his mind) wimpy Republican field of at least 13 other candidates, with more on the way.
            NBC will now not run Trump’s Miss USA or Miss Universe pageants, and the Spanish-language network Univision, which also carries the programs, has told Trump to get lost as well. NBC will continue to carry Trump’s long-running “Celebrity Apprentice” show, but since he’s running for president, he won’t be in it.
            For political junkies like myself, this Trump drama is pure gold. I lost huge respect for the man years ago when he went off in his racist rants against Pres. Obama, demanding that he produce his birth certificate to prove that he wasn’t born in Kenya.
            The president did exactly that, and then got the last laugh calling Trump a “carnival barker” (ouch).
            Let’s be clear, no one with any sense takes this man seriously. The only reason why he draws attention is because his ego is bigger than his bank account, which is considerable.
            So Donald Trump is making the 2016 presidential campaign interesting, indeed. Get lots of popcorn, folks, ‘cause the show is only now beginning.
            BREE NEWSOME – I was knocked on my backside last weekend when it was reported that the courageous young lady who climbed that 30-foot flagpole in front of the South Carolina Capital and took down the Confederate battle flag is none other than fellow filmmaker Bree Newsome.
            I had the honor of meeting Bree in 2010 when both of us entered our respective films in the Hayti Heritage Film Festival in Durham.  Bree entered a beautifully short subject film titled “Wake”, while I entered my first feature-length documentary, “Obama in NC: The Path to History.”
            As it turned out, Bree won First Place in the Shorts category, and I took Second Place for Best Documentary. We were both extremely supportive of each other’s work, and I was particularly impressed with Bree’s commitment to social; justice, and what her vision had to say.
            We communicated for a while afterwards by email and Facebook, but then lost touch about three years ago.
            So imagine my surprise when I saw that it was she who took the flag, and allowed herself to be arrested, all to make a point that the people are tired of waiting in the aftermath of the Charleston Church Massacre, and they want that flag down now.
            So I salute Bree and her courage. She has inspired a lot of people with her brave action, and I hope that GOD blesses her, and continues to guide her.
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF – Earlier this week, a Facebook friend, Darius, posted a symbol denoting “Straight Pride,” apparently in understandable protest to last week’s historic US Supreme Court 5-4 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
            Darius’ post disturbed me because I’ve been seeing that kind of reaction a lot lately, especially from the black community, which should know better than anyone what it’s like to be denied housing or employment, or be fired from a job because of who and what you are.
            To be clear, I have a religious objection to homosexuality, but that’s personal. I don’t let that ever intrude on my respect for the law, or insistence that everyone be treated equally under the law. I base that on the fact that there are a lot of people and their ways I have problems and differences with, and yet we all seem to co-exist without getting in each other’s way. And when we do have to interact, we do so respecting those differences, which is the very definition of a civil society.
            So which that understanding, I responded to Darius’s Facebook post:
            Darius, all due respect, but when citizens are being excluded from the mainstream, they have the right to demand inclusion because no less than the US Constitution gives them that right. Many of us find it convenient to ignore inequality because some people aren’t our cup of tea.
Now I'm not a promoter of gay rights, but I'm also not a promoter of a lot of other things that are legally constitutional. Thus, whether I like something (or someone) or not, can never be the point. We erected laws to exclude people we don't like, then catch a hissy fit when they scream and holler about it. We just have to face up to the fact that we created a Constitution and Bill of Rights to ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So it is arrogant on our part, at the very least, to now say, "But we didn't mean to include you, you and especially you" to people who otherwise aren't breaking the law.
 Our religious precepts are our own to govern our moral behavior, and rightfully so. But because religion does not provide a "one size fits all," we've constructed non-theological rules (laws) by which to guide ourselves so that all can pursue what our Constitution guarantees them.
 We're still a very young country, Darius. The very fact that we're still dealing with issues like race, poverty and women's equality tells you that as "smart" as we fashion ourselves to be, we still have a long way to go. We're still in the shakeout period, so yes, these controversies are going to continue until we ALL have our act together.
 Now you ABSOLUTELY are entitled to your declaration of Straight Pride...Lord knows I'm more than satisfied with being straight and wouldn't change it for the world...but to do it in response or reaction to alternate expressions of pride suggests intimidation. Brother, if you KNOW who and what you are, and are proud of it, then it doesn't make a difference what anyone else says or does. As long as they aren't actively trying to change you, or hurt you, then realize that folks have been doing their own thing before you and I were born, and yet that never stopped us from being who and what we are. The question isn't "what" you are, but what you do with it.
History has shown us that ALL types of people, from ALL walks, have come together to demand freedom, justice and equality. The organizer of the 1963 March on Washington was a gay man who had Dr. King's blessing. That didn't stop a thing. In life, we are stopped by those things we allow to stop us, or intimidate us. As far as I'm concerned, if Almighty GOD has a problem with any of this, trust me, HE will deal with it. Our job, in my opinion, is to KNOW who WE are, be responsible for what WE do, and live our lives in a manner that WE can take responsibility for. Anything else is just a complete waste of time. I hope you take my response in the friendly manner in which it has been offered.
Last I heard from Darius, I think he has.
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.


NC ACTIVIST TAKES DOWN CONFEDERATE FLAG – For a short while last Saturday, the South Carolina Confederate battle flag in front of the South Carolina Statehouse was taken down, and North Carolina activist Bree Newsome was the one who admittedly did it. The Raleigh native says after the Charleston Church Massacre, where the alleged white supremacist killer was seen waving the flag in pictures on his website, she felt she had to take down the symbol of slavery and injustice. Newsome, 30, a filmmaker and daughter of former Shaw University President Clarence Newsome, climbed up the 30-foot flagpole while police ordered her to stop. She came down with the flag and was promptly arrested and taken to jail, where she bailed out. Her action was cheered around the world. Newsome faces time in prison if convicted. Her first court date is later this month.

TELLING THEIR STORY - Literary Arts resident teacher Anita Woodley signs copies of "Stories Come to Life," books that sixth-grade students at Neal Middle School in Durham all contributed writings to [ photo by Demetrius Hunter ]

By Cash Michaels

            They wrote about their loves.
            “Basketball is my favorite sport. I have a special technique that I do well when I play against other people and it is called a “crossover.
             They wrote about their dislikes.
            “I don’t like my afro. My afro is too Big. I don’t like apples. Because they are apples. I don’t like books. Because they are books.”
             And they wrote about their families.
            “Every day after school I will walk to my grandma’s house and she would feed me lots of food and talk to me. I would cook with her, pluck her neck/chin hairs, make sure she had her cane, write out her grocery list, clean her room, and fix her medicine.”
            The students of Neal Middle School in Durham – many of whom live in poverty - have written more than 200 stories about their lives since 2014 for a five-volume book series titled, Stories Come to Life: A Personal Story Literary Arts Residency with Anita Woodley.
            Ms. Woodley is an award-winning and multi-talented journalist, educational entertainer, and musician best known for her one-woman stage productions of Mama Juggs, The Men in Me, and Bucking the Medical and Mental Bull – all dealing with health care in the black community.
            But the non-traditional “Stories Come to Life” project, a CAPS program funded by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) grant, Durham Arts Council (DAC) Annual Arts Fund, and Durham Public Schools (DPS) support, was unique because Woodley, a CAPS Literary/Theatre teaching artist, had to make the classroom her stage, assuming various characters in order to inspire the young students to write about their world, and what it meant to them.
            “I wanted them to understand that it’s up to them to diversify the world by bringing who they are to the world, and seeing what it is about,” Woodley says.
            To encourage the students more, fresh fruits were delivered and prepared by Demetrius Hunter of Grocers on Wheels.
            “I had a fabulous time teaching this writing residency while switching into different character voices, like my 100-year-old Great-Grandma, Transformers, Curious George, and my brother,” Woodley told her students in a letter published with each book copy handed out.
            “I am very proud of you sharing your heartfelt stories with the world, “ Woodley continued. “I know sometimes, times can get rough and many may seem out of control, even perhaps scary at moments in your life. However, through it all, reach within yourself and the community to find a way to think of something positive to help you stay on a positive course in your life.”
            Woodley then edited the books, which included pictures, for final printing and distribution to the students.
            The result has been exciting, enhancing the writing, reading and communications skills of over 300 sixth-graders at Neal Middle, especially among those who read 50% below grade level, officials say.
            Last Thursday, Woodley presented copies of the book volumes to members of the Durham Board of Education, and Supt. Bert L’Homme.
            “Every single student got their own book. I spent over 200 hours editing, even on the airplane as I was flying to California getting their stories together,” Woodley told board members. “I had an hour-and-a-half to speak with them, and keep it really engaging.”
            Then Woodley suddenly switched to her impression of her 100-year-old Great-Grandma, giving the chuckling board members a taste of how she dazzled the students with humorous characters to spur their imaginations and capture their interest.
            “The kids loves to learn, honey,” Great-Grandma said, “Oh I engaged them, I taught them how to honor their urbanese…and that’s just when you say something, but you spell it different. So the kids really enjoyed spelling “cousin” fifteen different ways.”
            For Woodley, being a theatre teacher in residency helps to fulfill a yearning to share and grow with her community since her days growing up in Oakland, California. She grew up in the housing projects amid the poverty, drugs, crime and all that came with it.
            In 1984 at the age of eight, young Woodley taught kids whose parents were addicted to crack cocaine how to read and write stories about their life experiences and circumstances. The exercise helped those children not only take stock of who they were and where they were, but ultimately, who they wanted to be in life.
            “The students really seemed to find their inner storyteller,” Jacqueline Kersey, a Neal Middle School sixth-grade teacher said. The stories ranged from simple childhood experiences like raising puppies, to one student actually being shot during spring break.
            “Thank you for this program,” Woodley told the Durham Board of Education. “All the kids need it, especially the ones who think they can’t do it.”
             Editor's note - go to to read the students' stories in all five book volumes.


By Cash Michaels

            A fire at an East Charlotte African-American church – one of seven to catch ablaze after the shocking June 17th Emmanuel A.M.E. Church massacre in Charleston, SC – has been ruled an arson, and is now being investigated for possible hate crimes violations by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, published reports say.
            On the night of June 24th, Briar Creek Road Baptist Church was “severely damaged” by flames, and many suspect the deliberate act could have been the work of white supremacists, similar to Dylann Storm Roof, 21, the alleged murderer of nine church members in Charleston who wanted to start a race war. Roof was captured in North Carolina the following day and is currently back in Charleston awaiting trial.
            At least $250,000 in damage was done with several connecting buildings sustaining smoke damage, though the sanctuary was spared. The congregation actually held service there last Sunday. Electricity and other utilities have been turned off until authorities have deemed the site safe.
            A spokesman for the Charlotte Fire Dept. said a building which housed the church’s summer camp for youth was destroyed. An alternative site is being sought.
            Of the seven reported church fires in the past two weeks since the Charleston church massacre in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina, at least three have been ruled suspicious, say published reports. The latest was Tuesday evening in Greeleyville, SC, where Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church burned to the ground at around 8:30 p.m..
            This is the second time in its history that Mt. Zion has been burned, published reports say. According to the Associated Press, the Ku Klux Klan set it ablaze in June 1995. Two men were caught, tried and convicted of federal charges in that case. The church was rebuilt.
            At press time Wednesday, published reports quoted sources close to the investigation as saying the cause of the Mt. Zion blaze this week was not arson.
            No lives were lost in any of the fires.
            Authorities are finding some dissimilarities with the churches burned thus far.Indeed, one of two churches in Tennessee which caught fire is white, and officials believe it was struck by lightning, as opposed to any man-made cause.
            The FBI has made clear that while their preliminary investigation into the East Charlotte church burning has determined that the fire was set, it will be a while before they can conclusively state that it was a hate crime.
            At press time, no suspects had been identified nor arrested in any of the church fires. There is also no indication yet that the three already designated as arson cases are in any way linked.
            All of the fires took place at night, investigators say.
            This recent rash of church fires recalls a similar trend in the 1990s, which involved 827 arsons and bombings of churches (269 of them black churches) from 1995 to 1997, according to the National Church Arson Task Force, a coalition of federal investigative agencies like the FBI, ATF and Treasury Dept. that report to the president.  Only a handful those fires actually involved white supremacist groups, the NCATF said.
            After Civil War Reconstruction in the late 1860's, white supremacists routinely burned black churches as freed slaves began to build communities after emancipation.
            Many in the black community suspect that resentment over the recent mass rejection of the Confederate battle flag in the wake of the Charleston church massacre could be a cause. The national NAACP has urged many of its state chapters to monitor hate activity in their regions, and churches to take "necessary precautions."
            The civil rights group even created a Twitter hashtag,  #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches.
            Crimestoppers is offering a reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of person(s) responsible for the Briar Creek Road Baptist Church fire. Please call 704-334-1600 with any pertinent information.



            North Carolina native and US Attorney Gen. Loretta Lynch came back home to Durham Wednesday, where she held a roundtable discussion on civil rights at North Carolina Central University. Earlier in the day, Lynch went to Raleigh for a meeting at the US Attorney’s Office there about stopping human trafficking. Lynch was born in Greensboro, but was raised and went to school in Durham. She was nominated by President Obama to succeed Attorney Gen. Eric Holder, and is the first black woman ever to hold the post.

            A Durham activist minister says given how the African-American community ha been under attack in recent months, blacks should take down the red, white and blue flag this July 4th holiday weekend, and hoist the black red and green flag instead. Rev. Paul Scott says the current racial climate in the nation troubles him, and the debate over the Confederate battle flag is still raging. The black Liberation flag, first established by activist Marcus Garvey in the 1920s, is a unifying symbol in the African-American community, Rev. Scott says. He adds that his message is not anti-American, just pro-black.

            Cary police say a Green Hope High School student died after falling from a truck she jumped onto last Friday night to retrieve drugs that had been stolen from her. Catherine Burdick-Crow, 16, was allegedly and repeatedly punched  by the driver of the pickup truck, Joshua Simmons, 17, as he tried to make a getaway after he and three others took Burdick-Crow’s marijuana stash during a drug deal gone wrong near Walnut Street Park. The girl fell from the truck, police say, dying from her injuries. Simmons, along with Beth Strange, 18; Abijah Masse, 17; and Jourdan Mack, 20, have all been charged with first-degree murder. Mack reported confessed that it was he and Strange who robbed Burdick-Crow.


            [RALEIGH] With both houses of the NC General Assembly at loggerheads over a compromise budget, the state House and Senate agreed to a 45-day extension just before the July 1st deadline, allowing for conferees to hash out details for a 2015-16 spending plan. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the continuing resolution to extend the period into law, allowing state government to continue to operate at current funding levels. School systems, however, aren’t sure what they’re funding will be a they begin staffing up before the August 14th deadline.

            [DURHAM] In the midst of  a raging debate about the Confederate battle flag coming down in South Carolina, vandals in Durham this week defaced a monument to Confederate soldiers in Maplewood Cemetery by spray painting “Black Lives Matter” and “Tear It Down” on the granite marker. The monument was just erected in May to honor the Civil War dead of Orange County who fought for the South. Durham police are investigating.

            [GREENSBORO] As of July 1st, local governments in North Carolina can no longer levy privilege taxes on businesses, according to a law passed by the Republican-led NC General Assembly last summer. That means municipal governments have had to raise taxes and fees in order to make up for the millions in loss revenue. Gov. McCrory promised that he would come up with an alternative to help local governments recoup their losses, but thus far, no plan has been put forth.