Tuesday, October 20, 2015


By Cash Michaels
Staff writer

            One-stop early voting begins today, Oct. 22nd in New Hanover County for the Nov. 3rd  elections, and ends on Saturday, Oct. 31st at 1 p.m..  Early voting for the 2015 municipal elections are being held in Suite 39 in the New Hanover County Government Center, 230 Government Drive in Wilmington.
            Hours of operation today and Friday, Oct. 23rd  are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  No voting this weekend.
On Monday through Friday, Oct. 26 – 30th, voting hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. , and on Saturday, Oct. 31st, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m..
If you are voting for the very first time during the early period, you must bring a current and valid photo identification, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or other government document showing both your valid name and address.
You will also be required to complete and sign an absentee request application prior to voting. Afterwards, you will be directed to the voting machine to cast your ballot. Once you have submitted your application and executed the process of voting, the county board of elections will review your application and either approve or deny the submission.
On the ballot for the 2015 municipal elections, for Wilmington mayor, voters can check either incumbent Bill Saffo, or write-in their choice. Saffo has no opponent.
For Wilmington City Council, voters may choose three from among eight candidates, which include Neil Anderson, Hollis B. Briggs, Jr., Margaret Haynes, Deb Hays, Paul Lawler, Frank J. Madonna, John Presswood and Alvin Rogers.
Voters may also write-in candidates for the three open City Council seats.
The period for mail-in absentee ballots to be counted ended in early October.
                        NEW MARCH, 15, 2016 PRIMARY DATE
In September, the NC General Assembly passed, and Gov. Pat McCrory soon signed, a law changing the presidential primary date from May in North Carolina to March 15, 2016, for the purposes of influencing the presidential primaries earlier in the process.
That means that all primaries for state and other offices, including the US Senate, US House, governor and NC Legislature that normally that fell in May in previous years will now be held in March.
There was concern that shortening the period by two months would favor incumbents and penalize challengers in terms of fundraising and campaigning.
Filing for office will now begin on Dec. 1st.

                  NEW DEADLINES FOR THE MARCH 15, 2016 PRIMARIES

Dec. 1, 2015 – 20-day candidate filing period begins
Dec. 16, 2015 – list of eligible presidential candidates for primaries    
                              submitted by parties
Dec. 21, 2015 – candidate filing period ends
Jan. 5, 2016 -  State Elections Board finalizes presidential ballots
Jan. 25, 2016 – absentee ballots completed
Feb. 19, 2016 – last day to register to vote in March 15 primary
March 3, 2016 – early voting begins
March 12, 2016 – early voting ends
March 15, 2016 – NC Primary Day (polls open at 6:30 a.m., close at 7:30 p.m.)
May 3, 20116 – primary runoff for state and local races only
May 24, 2016 – primary runoff for federal races only if needed




By Cash Michaels
             CLARENCE WILLIAMS – Next week, a true legend and pioneer will finally step down after 49 years at WRAL-TV in Raleigh. Producer – director Clarence Williams, who has directed the newscasts, sports programs and special programs, is retiring. The historic legacy he leaves is amazing given that he first started at the TV station in 1966, and over the years, helped to lead WRAL-TV as it revolutionized news gathering and broadcasting.
            Many of us who are black journalists look up to Clarence as someone who helped to pave the way during those early days, along with pioneers J. D. Lewis, Ervin Hester and Ray “Dr. Jocko” Henderson. Indeed, Clarence has been a valuable mentor to many of us in our careers, and knowing that someone of his high caliber was still making it happen filled all of us with pride.
            So, so long Clarence. You are truly part of Raleigh and North Carolina history. You are also one of the nicest and most professional people I’ve ever known. You will certainly be missed, and never forgotten.
THE TRUTH ABOUT SLAVERY – Rarely do I talk about books, because rarely do I get the time to actually sit down and read one ( I read a lot of short and sweet stuff, or once and a while a long article, but rarely books).But this is an exception.
One of the most extraordinary books about slavery I’ve ever read is The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry, written by researchers Ned and Constance Sublette. This book is five years of research into the inhuman industry of African slave trading, but it brilliantly makes the case that the early US economy was clearly built on the backs of the African slave.
Indeed, slavery flourished because of two reasons – South Carolina importing Africans by ships to its shores, and Virginia serving as a breeding ground by which to produce homegrown slaves that could be sold to other colonies and states.
And what about North Carolina? What was our role in the slave trade? Actually, compared to South Carolina and Virginia, according to the Sublette’s book, very little. Yes, North Carolina definitely had slaves, but very little compared to our neighbors to the north and the south. One reason is because the Outer Banks that rim our Atlantic Coast made it very treacherous for slave ships to land. The only real port that could be used was Wilmington, but not to the extent as Charleston, SC.
The book is fascinating, documenting how slave children were used as collateral for loans and down payments. Female slaves had no say in the welfare of their children born to them, and as soon as a child was born, it was taken and sold.
If you want to know about The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave-Breeding Industry, you can meet one of the authors, Ned Sublette, this Sunday, Oct. 25th at 2 p.m. at Quail Ridge Bookstore, 3522 Wade Avenue in Raleigh. The event is free. I had a chance to interview Mr. Sublette, and there’s no question that  he and his wife have done some fascinating research the community needs to see. That’s 2 p.m. this Sunday at Quail Ridge Books.
            MAHALIA JACKSON CHURCH CONCERT THIS SUNDAY – Don’t forget, another free event this Sunday, October 25th at 4 p.m., this time at Lincoln Park Holiness Church, as vocalist Lynnette Barber returns with her extraordinary gospel song stylings as the legendary Mahalia Jackson in concert.
           I’ve seen Lynnette’s performance as Mahalia, and I’m here to tell you, it is more than a treat.
           For more information call 919-673-6392 or contact Lynnette at lynbarber@yahoo.com.
            Trust me, you won’t regret it.
            NEW SERIES FOR HALLE BERRY – Last week CBS officially announced the cancellation of the Steven Spielberg-produced summer series, “Extant” starring Halle Berry. The show was about a female astronaut who comes back to Earth after over a year in space and discovers she’s pregnant. Good premise for a 90-minute movie, but a TV series over two years was stretching it, and the low ratings pretty much proved that.
            But Ms. Berry may be down, but certainly not out, as CBS also announced that it was already in development with another series for the Oscar winning actress, this one a legal drama titled, “Legalese.” This one is about a bi-racial attorney in Chicago (most likely Halle Berry) who has to follow a case to New Orleans, where she pairs up with a Southern white lawyer, and obviously stuff happens as a result. One of the producers of “The Good Wife,” Steven Lichtman, is in charge along with Berry, so let’s see if that assures us some quality.
            NEW “STAR WARS” FILM DEC. 18 – Mark it down, Friday, Dec. 18th, the day that the Force returns to movie theaters after over a decade. The new Star Wars film, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” giving us not only a new generation of intergalactic heroes to root for, but also older versions of already established legends Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), along with Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C3-PO.  Of course there will be villains and space battles galore.
            The fact of the matter is we haven’t had a really fun big movie since I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn. Indeed, Hollywood has forgotten how to make fun movies anymore. Everything nowadays has to be big, loud and cruel.
            Let’s hope the new Star Wars film brings back the fun to the movie theaters so that our kids c
DR. JOCKO – Earlier this year I got the unique chance not only to meet, but to conduct the last interview with radio disc jockey legend Ray Henderson, better known as “Dr. Jocko” of the old 570 WLLE-AM. There’s no question that Ray was a man of history, given that WLLE (also known as “WiLLiE”} was Raleigh’s first black-formatted radio station, and he was one of the first personalities on their.
            Well as you may know by now, Ray Henderson died in Detroit in March. He had a graveside burial in Oakwood Cemetery, but his gravesite, right next to the legendary J. D. Lewis of WRAL (Ray’s mentor) has no headstone. So a fundraising effort, headed up by Thad Woodard, the former head of the NC Banking Association, and Jimmy “JJ’ Johnson, former air personality at WLLE-AM, has begun to raise $2,000.00 to get Uncle Jocko is proper headstone by Thanksgiving.
            So for any amount you can spare, please make your donation out to “Oakwood Cemetery,” and in the memo line at the bottom left of your check, please write “Ray Henderson Memorial.” Kindly send your donation to Thad Woodard, 616 Lakestone Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609.
            Honoring Ray “Dr. Jocko” Henderson is honoring part of our proud history here in Raleigh’s African-American community. Let’s all do our part.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.waug-network.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html).
           Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
          Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.

AFTER 49 YEARS, WRAL-TV'S CLARENCE WILLIAMS RETIRES - Producer-director Clarence Williams is hanging up the headphones after almost a half-century of service at WRAL television [photos by Cash Michaels and Capitol Broadcasting Co.]

By Cash Michaels

            After 49 years, award-winning producer – director Clarence Williams is retiring from the number one television station in the Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville market, WRAL-TV5.  By all accounts, Williams is the longest serving employee at WRAL, and its parent company, Capitol Broadcasting Co.(CBC).
            Not only has Williams directed countless local newscasts and special programs, but also worked camera for ABC’s Monday Night Football with Howard Cosell, NCAA football telecasts, and even changed the way coaches shows are done nationally when he directed NC State Wolfpack basketball Coach Jim Valvano’s weekly television program on location.
            He’s worked weather emergencies, state and national crises, and when WRAL became the first television station in the world, even before the national networks, to broadcast an entire newscast in high definition on October 13, 2000, Williams was there to help steer history in the making, and set a new standard of excellence.
            “I feel very fortunate that we’ve been on the cutting edge,” Williams says proudly, looking back over his tenure with Channel 5. “We’ve helped to develop some things. We’re a superstation.”
October 28th next week is scheduled to be his last day at the station, and it will be bittersweet for those who simply can’t imagine being in the newsroom knowing that Williams won’t be behind the controls, directing which camera will move into what position, or which reporter out in the field should standby.
“I feel like I’m losing a brother,” says Tom Campbell, producer and host of WRAL-TV’s weekly political talk program NC Spin, which Williams directs. “After 16 years together we think so much alike that one of us can start a thought and the other finish it. Not only is Clarence Williams extremely competent, he is a gifted television producer/director.”
Indeed, it would be hard to argue that Williams and WRAL didn’t grow up together, setting groundbreaking television news standards over the past few decades that have made the station one of the most respected trailblazers in the industry. A television station that has become an integral part of the Raleigh community fabric, despite a controversial early racial history that veterans of the African-American community remember all too well.
But to hear Williams’ WRAL colleagues tell it, what they’ll miss most, beyond his technical expertise and journalistic leadership, is his basic decency.
When the workload here at WRAL-TV would become overwhelming to many, Clarence would often stop by a co-workers’ desk, flash his horizon to horizon smile and say, “How can I help you? It will be ok,”” recalls longtime WRAL-TV anchor David Crabtree about his friend and colleague
“Clarence Williams sets the standard, the gold standard for humanity. He loves his family, his work, his friends, the Catholic Church, God.  Clarence loves life,” Crabtree continued. “Mine is better because I know him.  Mine is richer because Clarence Williams knows me by name.  Mine is blessed because Clarence Williams is my friend.”
“He is one of the best humans on this planet,” echoes NC Spin’s Tom Campbell. “His humility is inspiring and his deep care for others is contagious. He wants the best for everyone and I love him and want him in my life forever.”
            The feeling is just as strong from WRAL weekend anchor Ken Smith, who has worked with Williams for 15 years.
            “Clarence is one of the most humble, gracious and kind people I have ever met,” Smith told The Carolinian. “When you meet Clarence, he always has a story for you and often times you come away laughing, but also smarter! I have valued his advice and guidance over the years. I am a better man, for knowing Clarence Williams, forever a mentor.”
            The legacy of Clarence Williams is a remarkable one indeed, because upon hearing it, there can be little doubt that even as a young black child growing up in segregated Southeast Raleigh during the 1950’s and 60’s, he was a visionary, refusing to be constrained by racism or other barriers imposed upon him at the time.
            Williams was surrounded by role models like black doctors, lawyers, and even World War II figures who influenced him greatly.
“I feel very fortunate growing up in Southeast Raleigh, where I had mentors like my cousin, [former Carolinian columnist] Pete Wilder; Dr. Christopher Hunt; my great Uncle Tom Tate, who was a member of the Red Ball Express [a legendary all-black World War II unit in the Battle of the Bulge],” Williams recalls. “Even my mailman was a Tuskegee Airman. We all knew each other, and knew of each other.”
Veteran educator Dr. Robert Bridges, recently inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame, was responsible for coordinating the Industrial Cooperative Training program – a vocational program for students who didn’t want to attend college - for the old Raleigh City Public School System.
            Bridges recalls talking with the lanky young Southeast Raleigh tenth-grader from all-black J. W. Ligon High School one afternoon in 1966.
            “Clarence said, ““I want to be in TV. TV is the future, Mr. Bridges, and I want to be part of that.””
            The statement was extraordinary, given that television was still in its clunky black and white infancy, and many black families didn’t even have a television set. When a “negro” celebrity like singers Pearl Bailey or Sammy Davis, Jr. would appear on the popular Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights, it would be big news across the community. No African-Americans then even appeared in commercials.
            Young Clarence Williams felt there should be more blacks on television, and in television, and he wanted to be part of that revolution.
            Bridges was thinking more along the lines of a meat-cutting or construction job for the young man, but the young man was clear on what he wanted.
            White students from Broughton and Enloe high schools were already training at WRAL-TV. The best known of the few African-Americans even working there was a very talented man named J. D. Lewis, who was the first black on Raleigh radio, who also hosted a popular TV dance music program called “Teenage Frolics.”
            But there was an even bigger barrier to getting young Clarence into the number one television station in the market, and his name was Jesse Helms.
            It was the height of the civil rights movement. The NAACP, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others were boldly challenging long held southern segregation laws that limited opportunities for blacks in North Carolina and elsewhere.
            With Helms leading the way, WRAL-TV was a prominent bulwark against any civil rights progress in the South, as retired educator Alice McCullough-Garrett, recalls.
            What I saw and heard from Jesse Helms as a young student for a long time turned me against watching WRAL,” she told The Carolinian.  “The hate, name calling and racism he levied against African Americans only lead me to delve into the study of the greatness of my people.”
            Helms was not just an infamous editorialist doing a daily five-minute rant on WRAL-TV called “Viewpoint,” where he would routinely champion state’s rights against racial integration, and bash “communist instigators” like “Martin Luther Coon,” but Helms, who would later become a powerful six-term conservative US senator, was also a vice president and general manager at Capitol Broadcasting and WRAL.
            That meant Bridges had to approach Helms directly with his request that young Clarence Williams be given an opportunity to interview for a position at the station.
            Helms had hired blacks there before, but was concerned about Williams being a possible troublemaker, so he told Bridges to “…send the boy on out here and let me interview him.”
            Bridges recalls telling young Clarence the next day exactly what Helms said, “boy” and all, as a way to warn him what he might be in for working under such a well-known white supremacist.  But Williams was undeterred, went to meet with Helms, and ultimately got a position at WRAL, steering clear of Helms the station as much as possible.
“Clarence was something special back then, “ Dr. Bridges adds. “He still is.”
The rest is history. After telling WRAL that he was 16 (Clarence was actually 15, but knew he couldn’t get the position if he fessed up, so he got his grandmother to certify the required work permit), Williams began at the very bottom in Sept. 1966, learning enough to graduate to moving sets and lights, running cameras (color TVs were just making their debut) and sound, and eventually directing newscasts, public affairs programs, and sports shows.
“In 1967 when I started to work for WRAL-TV, Clarence Williams was all ready working for the company,” says Paul Pope, Jr., an African-American who worked for WRAL for 42 years before retiring as a CBC Vice President for Community Relations. “He welcomed me with open arms and he played a big part of my training. Clarence has paved the way for me and many others.”
During that time, Williams left his job, and St. Augustine’s College for two years from 1970-72 to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, and saw combat. When his tour ended, WRAL contacted him, and told him that his old job was waiting for him when he was ready.
Williams’ long career at WRAL-TV mirrors the evolution of television, going from black and white to color; satellite and microwave technology allowing for live broadcasts from not only around the country, but around the world; and ultimately to the historic move to high definition and digital transmission, which WRAL-TV pioneered.
“We grew. The technology changed. When I first got here some of the first color [TV] cameras we used were the size of a Volkswagen, “ Williams recalls. “And now you can find a lipstick camera. But it was all exciting to me because it was new to me.”
When Jim Goodmon, grandson of company founder A. J. Fletcher and an engineer by training, took over Capitol Broadcasting Co. in 1979 as president and CEO, he changed the culture of WRAL-TV, not only making it more community-friendly (especially to blacks, long put off by Jesse Helm’s racial rhetoric), but also making it an industry leader, investing in new technologies to improve newsgathering.
For instance, it was 1996 when the Federal Communications Commission granted the nation’s first experimental HDTV license to WRAL-TV, leading to that first HD new telecast in Oct. 2000. That meant Clarence Williams would grow with those changes, and indeed, over time, lead the station in implementing Goodmon’s pioneering vision.
“Jim Goodmon believed in diversity, and gave us opportunities that probably wouldn’t have existed otherwise,” Williams says.
“Companies are built around people like Clarence and he’s been a mainstay at WRAL-TV for nearly five decades,” CBC President/CEO Jim Goodmon told The Carolinian about Williams. “Clarence has contributed on any number of levels, but his people skills always made him stand out.  He mentors new employees, volunteers in the community and regularly goes way beyond his regular production duties.  Clarence is part of the TV-5 backbone and we’re going to miss him.”
Even former colleagues like Renee McCoy, currently communications director with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public School System, but was a popular morning and noon news anchor at WRAL during the 1980s, hailed Williams for his professionalism and friendship.
“Clarence was one of the pioneers in this industry who worked to set the standard for modern television broadcast production as we now know it,” McCoy said.  “He had a vision that surpassed the norm and brought a quality that others could only emulate. It was always a pleasure to learn from Clarence because he always provided a level of wit and fun to the experience.”
There aren’t that many African-Americans who are television directors, but the name “Clarence Williams” means something to those who are, like Odessa Shaw, Jr., who retired recently after 25 years at Black Entertainment Television, WLFL-TV and WNCN-TV in Raleigh.
Though I never got the opportunity to work with him, I've always enjoyed our many phone conversations,” Shaw recalls about Williams. “It was good to talk with someone who as a TV director of color, he knew what I was going through.”
Even in Southeast Raleigh that helped to nurture Clarence Williams, his legend at WRAL-TV is respected.
“It is amazing to me that Clarence has endured and celebrates his tenure with WRAL,” says friend and former Raleigh City Councilman Brad Thompson. “I can't imagine suffering the indignity of the Jesse Helms editorials and still being proud of the place I worked. Clarence made life better in Raleigh. He has earned his retirement.”
In May 2014, Williams, retired CBC executive Paul Pope, Jr. and another longtime WRAL-TV employee Leonard Peebles, all military veterans, went back for a 13-day visit to Vietnam to witness the dramatic changes there since they left over 40 years earlier.
In his spare time, Williams enjoys working with nonprofits, especially when it comes to helping those in need of food and vital essentials here, and in impoverished nations like Haiti. He hopes to travel to Africa one day, and back to Asia.
            “I want to give something back because I’ve been very fortunate,” Williams says, crediting Capitol Broadcasting Co. with allowing him to work with nonprofits, and even contributing to his causes.
As his long tenure as a television pioneer comes to an end, Clarence Williams looks back and says, “It was sometimes challenging and frustrating, but it was also fun.”


            [RALEIGH] The State Board of Elections last week voted 3-2 to remove a Rowan County Elections Board official because of a continuous pattern of racial and intolerant remarks he made on both Facebook and Twitter. Malcolm Butner was found to have made “intemperate” remarks about blacks, immigrants and gay people. The remarks date back to before Butner was appointed to the Rowan Board.
The State BOE Chairman Joshua Howard, a Republican, voted with the state board’s two Democrats to remove Butner. The state board’s remaining two Republicans voted to keep Butner.

            [GREENSBORO] Police say 21-year-old Thomas Bynum, a NC A&T University student badly beaten and hospitalized after an incident Saturday night, was an instigator of the fight that ultimately involved upwards of 30 people. Greensboro police say it was a “mutual affray” between Bynum and another person at a party at the apartment complex where the violence occurred. Soon other people got involved, and Bynum was severely injured. Police ay they can’t charge Bynum because they didn’t see the incident. A complaint would have to be filed.

            [CHAPEL HILL] Amid controversy, the UNC System Board of Governors is scheduled to convene Friday to choose a new system president for its 17 campuses statewide. Last week a search committee of the board met reportedly to approve the hiring of Margaret Spellings, a former Bush Administration official and US Education secretary. Current UNC System Pres. Tom Ross is being forced to step down this January after five years. Critics say the move is political by the 32-member all-Republican board.



            Though she’s reportedly been receiving treatment since last May, news that North Carolina Central University Chancellor Debra Saunders-White has been battling cancer broke just last week, surprising all. Chancellor Saunders-White thanked students, faculty and other well-wishers for their prayers during a breast cancer awareness program on campus. She was appointed as chancellor in 2013 after stints with the US Dept. of Education and UNC-Wilmington.

            In an effort to fill five new schools scheduled to open across the county next year, the Wake School Board is considering a new student reassignment plan presented Tuesday that could move 3,461 students from their current school location. Almost half the students scheduled for reassignment could stay in their current schools if their parents provided their own transportation, administrators say. A public hearing on the plan is scheduled for Nov. 3rd. Go to http://wcpss.net/Domain/6073 to view the plan. Comments can also be made online at the WCPSS website.

            Garner’s police chief has vowed to find those responsible for vandalizing an outside mural on the side of the new police department headquarters on 7th Avenue last Friday. The mural was defaced with the words, “Kill a Cop, Save a Child.” According to Chief Brandon Zuidema, the act was a “hate crime” and he vowed that it must stop. Over $3,040 has been raised thus far to help fix the defacing. To contribute, go to https://www.gofundme.com/466pcrq4. A $5,000 reward is being offered by the Garner Police Dept. for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for defacing the mural.


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