Monday, June 6, 2016


Muhammad 'The Greatest' Ali, Dead at 74

By Frederick H. Lowe

     ( - Muhammad Ali,”The Greatest,” is no longer with us. Ali, the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion, died Friday night in a Phoenix-area hospital, where he was being treated for respiratory complications. Ali was 74 and he died from septic shock.
Ali won the heavyweight title in 1964, 1974, and 1978. Between February 25, 1964, and September 19, 1964, Muhammad Ali reigned as the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion. He had a record of 56 wins and five losses.
His greatest fight was “The Thrilla in Manila,” which was held October 1, 1975, in the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines. It was the third heavyweight boxing match between Ali and “Smokin” Joe Frazier.
     And it was a battle between two Black gladiators, with Ali lifting his arms in triumphant before the 15th round when Frazier’s trainer Eddie Futch threw in the towel.
     A funeral service is planned for Friday in Louisville, Ky., where he was born January 17, 1942. Muhammad Ali, who was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr, was a boxer who transcended the sport becoming an international figure who created pride among blacks and anger among whites because he lived the courage of his convictions.
     His celebrity, like his boxing skills were without equal.  He coined the phrase “Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee.” He called himself “The Greatest” and “The Prettiest.” When he fought, his arms and fists were at his waist, not covering his face  like most boxers, because he was such a fast puncher. He also started the “Ali Shuffle,” showing off his fast footwork in the ring. Black boys imitated his style and worshipped  him. They called him “Champ.”
     In one of many books written about Ali, the author discussed how people reacted to him when he walked near New York’s Central Park. Vendors left their hot dog carts; prostitutes stopped working; cab drivers got out their taxis and citizens chased after him begging for autographs.
At the age of 22, he won the world heavyweight championship in 1964 from Sonny Liston. Shortly after the fight, Clay joined the Chicago-based Nation of Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali in honor of one the great kings of Egypt.
     In 1967, Ali refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, saying ‘no Vietcong ever called me nigger.’ He was arrested and found guilty of draft evasion, stripped of his  title. His license to box was revoked. Ali remained free on bond as he appealed his conviction.
His courage in refusing to be drafted did not endear him to the nation’s overwhelmingly white sports writers employed by the nation’s major newspapers.
They called him Clay instead of Ali. Most of them wanted him in prison. The Chicago Tribune published at least 30 anti-Ali stories in one edition. When he showed the first signs of Parkinson’s disease, including slurred speech, many sports writers speculated that he was taking Heroin.
     Heavyweight boxer Ernie Terrell refused to call Clay Muhammad Ali and Terrell paid for it. During a 15-round championship fight on Feb. 6, 1967, in Houston, Ali beat Terrell without mercy. Ali taunted him throughout the bout screaming “Uncle Tom! What’s my name?”
Both of Terrell’s eyes were swollen shut from the beating.
     In July 1970, a federal court forced the New York State Boxing Commission to reinstate Ali’s boxing license.


By Cash Michaels

            ALI – Seeing him old and frail these last couple of years, I knew…indeed the world knew that we’d soon be saying goodbye to Muhammad Ali. Literally the most recognized human being on the planet. What joy Ali brought us during the 1960’s and 70’s  when he was still in the  ring. We needed a bold, brave black man of courage to stan d up to the world unafraid. Yes, we had Martin, we had Malcolm, and so many others who spoke truth to power. And they paid for their selflessness with their lives.
            They didn’t kill Ali ( though I’m sure the young black Muslim got his share of threats). No, they thought they could turn him into a slave, have him put of an Army uniform, and travel around the world  representing a war (Vietnam) That he didn’t believe in.
            They thought wrong.
            The courage, wisdom and sheer humanity of Ali’s act of defiance in refusing to be drafted into the Army, thus allowing the government to take his title, his livelihood, and arguably the best years of his professional life, is unmatched. Ali exhibited a manhood few could equal in either word or deed. People like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – no slouch in the manhood department himself – stood with Ali in support of his brave stand.
            And then, once the US Supreme Court ruled after three years that Ali was right, he reentered the ring, and continued to give us some of the most thrilling fights in history.
            No, it was not pretty watching Ali fighting past his prime, but as he got older in front us, we realized that we loved him that much more. And  when we witnessed  the ravages of Parkinson’s Disease on this Old warrior, we loved him even more.
There can be no question that Ali’s appearance  lighting the Torch at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta was an historic moment none of is will ever gorget. That took tremendous courage.
The numerous acts of humanity and charitable work that Ali performed all over the world, despite his limitations, until the very end, are testament to the kind of human being he really was.
              So we look back with pride and with warmth. Just look at how blessed we be born during a time when we saw the first black president of the United States,  and to see with our own eyes ‘The Greatest of All Time.”
THE NEW “ROOTS” - Last week, no less than rap music legend Snoop Dogg opened his mouth to protest the airing of the new miniseries “Roots,” which is based on the old 1977 ABC television miniseries, and the book by author Alex Haley. As you know the story is about Haley’s  great, great ancestor, Kunta Kinte, and how he was kidnapped from West Africa to the New World. The story follows Kinte and how his family tree evolved throughout the years.
            In other words, the classic story of Kinte always has been , and always will be an important piece of black history. And that’s why “Roots” was brought back by Mark Wolper, the son of original 1977 executive director David L. Wolper, and actor/director LeVar Burton, who made his television debut as the original Kunta Kinte in the ABC series.
            Apparently Snoop hated the very idea of “Roots” coming back, because he started blasting it before it started airing.
            He went off on Instagram ranting about how “they” are going to show us how they enslaved us then, when “they are enslaving us now. And instead, they should be showing the successful lives blacks are living today.
            Now wait a minute….if “they” are still enslaving us now, then what “successful lives” are Snoop talking about? But what is more important is Snoop is apparently one of those extremely ignorant colored people who believe that there should be no such thing as an “African-American” or anything linking us to our common history in Africa. Either you’re “black” or you’re not. If the best you can do is trace your family back 50 or 60 years to a small town somewhere  with any acknowledgment that you had kinfolk before that, then as far as Snoop, Raven – Symone and other ignorant folks  are concerned, that’s all we need to know. Since we don’t “know no Africans,” folks like Snoop don’t want to know any, and would prefer not to be linked to any.
            The fact remains that black people, African-Americans  today owe whatever success they have today to the groundwork that their ancestors toiled for hundreds of years earlier. Those ancestors also had a beginning, but more importantly, they also greater respect for their beginnings, and they passed that respect onto us through the oral tradition, something we, as a people, maintain and cherish even today.
            To have people like Snoop Dogg, who still has a large following of young people as fans, to pretty much say that there is no value in knowing where we come from, and how we still survived against all odds, is a travesty, and ignorant. As the parent of an intelligent 13-year-old, I want my youngest daughter to watch the new and old “Roots, ” and I want to watch it with her. I want to share that history with her, so that she may carry the same pride in her that many of us have carried since watching the original “Roots”.
            I guess Snoop just isn’t invited.
            THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON – After a recent bout in the hospital for another round of chemo, I had the chance to watch a lot of the television I couldn’t see while I was away from home. One of the programs I watched was the FX miniseries “The People vs. O.J. Simpson.” Yes, we all know how the actual 1995 case ended (Simpson wss found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman), but we were never made fully aware of all of the politics involved on both sides of the case. The series is based on the book “Run for Your Life” by CNN analysts Jeffrey Toobin.
            The series is well produced and written, and stars Courtney B. Vance as defense attorney  Johnnie Cochran and attorney Robert Shapiro. Cuba Gooding Jr. portrays O.J.
            This Saturday, FX reruns the entire 10-episode series in a marathon starting at 3 p.m.. Trust me, it is well worth watching.
             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.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            As the world stops to say goodbye Friday, and three-time heavyweight champion of the world, Muhammad Ali, who died June 3 at age 74, is laid to rest in his hometown of Louisville, Kty, there are many right here in North Carolina who also hold fond memories of personally knowing and working with “the Champ.”
            Ali had many friends in the state, dating back to his early days as a heavyweight champion. Two of them were Min. Kenneth and Sis. Margaret Rose Murray-Muhammad of Raleigh.
            “It certainly is a tremendous loss to lose him,” Ms Murray-Muhammad, a retired educator, recalled when reached by phone Saturday morning, hours after the world woke up to news of his death at a Phoenix, Az. Hospital Friday night. “But, he’s in a better place.”
 The Murray-Muhammads  came to North Carolina from Baltimore in the late  1950’s on behalf of the Nation of Islam. Their mission was to bring the message of NOI leader, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, to the Tar Heel State. It was years later during the 1960’s when young heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay would defeat World Champion Sonny Liston, and then reveal to the world that he was renouncing his “slave name,” had joined the  NOI, and had now assumed the Islamic name, “Muhammad Ali.”
However long before his announcement, the Murray-Muhammads had become good friends with the new champion. During the down times when he wasn’t training for an upcoming fight, Ali would come down to Raleigh and stay with the Murray-Muhammads at their West  Raleigh home to get some rest, and get away from the madness of the news media. Ali could count on good food, daily adherance to the Holy Q’uran, and a constant fellowship with likeminded Muslims.
“He was so vibrant and full of life,” Mrs. Murray-Muhammad says. ”We were happy to have him come to our home, and he would have been sort of incognito if my neighbor didn’t recognize him and told everybody.”
After a laugh, she added, “But he took it in stride.”
The Murray-Muhammads and Ali remained close during the time he had his title taken from him and he was kicked out of boxing for refusing to serve in the military draft, with Ali continuing to stay at their home in Raleigh on occasion.
“Oh yes, when you go up against a government like he did, believe me, he had faith,” Sis. Margaret insists. “Give him credit for his courage.”
When there was a splinter in the NOI during the late 1970’s, Ali joined the Murray-Muhammads in leaving, instead joining traditional Islam  as followers.
After Ali retired from boxing after 1980, he remained close with Min. Kenneth and Sis. Margaret Rose. In 1986, Ali was the guest of honor at the O. A. Dupree Scholarship Banquet at Shaw University in Raleigh at the invitation of the Murray-Muhammads. A literal who’s-who of North Carolina political, civic and academic leaders attended, and though Ali’s speech was slurred due to his Parkinson’s Disease, he told the audience how proud he was to be a Muslim, how he was now spending his retirement traveling the world with his wife, Lonnie, giving away autographed copies of the Holy Qu’ran, and bringing joy to people wherever and whenever he could.
“I enjoyed introducing him,” scholarship committee member Geoffrey Simmons recalls proudly. Virtually every North Carolina or Raleigh dignitary who delivered welcome remarks to Ali during the dinner used his famous phrase, “ Float like a butterfly, sting like a  bee.” Finally when it was his turn to speak, Ali got up, thanked everyone for coming, and joked that a few of the speakers looked like his arch-rival, Joe Frazier.
When the emcee played a practical joke, and gave Ali a  rubber nose as a “Howard Cosell Fake Nose Award,” the champ leaned into the microphone and mumbled, “It’s the wrong color,” bringing the Shaw University gymnasium down with laughter.
True to form, Ali stayed behind, autographing copies of the Islamic holy book he had purchased to give away.
There was absolutely nothing funny when now retired NC Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Cecil Goins and Muhammad Ali first met.
After his victory over Sonny Liston to take the heavyweight boxing crown, the federal government soon ordered Ali to report for enlistment in the US Army. Ali refused, saying that his Islamic faith  prevented him from taking part in the bloody Vietnam war the US was engaged in. Because of his refusal, the federal government stripped him of his title and passport for three years, preventing Ali from earning a living in the ring.
            It was during the initial proceeding in federal court in Houston, Texas in 1967 that Ali met Cecil Goins.
            Mr. Goins, now 90, was one of the few black federal US marshals  in the nation at the time. Having joined in 1965 , Goins was part of security for the historic Selma to Montgomery, Ala. march. The Southern Pines native, NC A&T alum and US Army World War II/Korean War veteran was based out of the Eastern District North Carolina, but because the Ali case had drawn such worldwide attention, he and another black deputy US marshal were reassigned by the US Justice Dept to Houston to provide protection for the controversial prizefighter.
            “Our orders were to go down and keep order,” Goins recalls, noting that with a prominent black college, Texas Southern University , right there, huge crowds of young people, as well as protesters, were expected.
            He was at Ali’s side at the trial.
            “I was with him every day,” Goins said during a phone interview from his Raleigh home Monday, adding that Ali was in “good shape” because he had been training for an upcoming fight when he had been indicted. Ali was always up early in the morning for prayer and to jog, and then would arrive at the courthouse at least an hour before his 9 a.m. proceeding..
            Ali would use that time to walk the halls and meet people. The US marshals were required to issue tickets to spectators in order to admit them to the courtroom.
            “When there were breaks during the trial, Ali would leave his lawyers and come out to be with the people, “the retired US marshal says.
            Mr. Goins recalls that there was still tremendous anger towards Ali for joining the NOI not only from whites, but also from blacks, many of whom felt that Ali was being “put up” to refusing to serve his country by NOI leader Elijah Muhammad.
            “They felt he had been brainwashed” said Goins .
            As  someone who had served in the US Army active duty for many years, Mr. Goins admits that he didn’t agree with Ali’s refusal to serve at first. But Goins got the chance to speak to heavyweight champion every day before the trial would start, understand him, and also observe him. Goins was impressed when black militant leader H. Rap Brown came to the Houston courthouse to apparently join with Ali to start a protest against the war, and Goins saw Ali turn Brown away. The champ knew he was facing at least five years in federal prison, and he was determined to wage his fight against the Vietnam war through the courts. Goins recalls H. Rap Brown did not come back.
“I agree with the masses of people….at the time I thought he was dodging to serve in the military. But now I can see his reasoning,” Mr. Goins, who later retired from the US marshals after 25 year to become NC Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, says. “He had more nerve than most people to do what he did.”

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            When it comes to presidential elections, 2008 remains a banner year, especially to black Democrats who went to the polls and helped drive Barack Obama’s historic  victory to the presidency. Obama won the Tar Heel state by only 1,400 ballots over Republican Sen. John McCain, thanks to early and provisional voting, and there’s no question that strong African-American turnout was key.
            It was just as strong, if not more so in 2012, even though Pres. Obama lost North Carolina to Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
            Now that the president stepping down, and expected to pass the mantle to reported presumptive nominee former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, with the help of Democratic super-delegate support, is expected to officially become the party’s nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July, will North Carolina’s black voters turn out in large numbers for a third presidential election in a row?
            A large part of that answer, of course, lies in whatever turnout effort is mounted. But thanks to Democracy North Carolina, a nonprofit, nonpartisan voter education organization, new numbers show black voter registration from 2008 through this election year statewide is dramatically up.
            And they’re not all necessarily Democrats.
            At special request, Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy NC provided a demographic breakdown of NC voter registrations as of June 2008, June 2012 and now, June 2016. The breakdown, from the North Carolina Board of Elections Office, is county-by-county, and the chart shows to what extent the percentage every four years changed among North Carolina’s racial and political demos.
            Hall notes that there are several important observations that can be made from the new data. “Voters are increasingly not indicating their race or party affiliation when they register,” says Hall. Thus, unaffiliated voters, by far, are the largest share of newly registered voters with unaffiliated voters increasing by 53% from 2008 to 2016, or 655,000 of the total 774,00 during that period.
            Democrats increased only by 1%, and Republicans by 4%. The total number of registered voters increased by 13% between June 2008 and June 2016, with self-identified black voters increasing by 22%, Hispanics by a whopping 58%.
            The numbers show, according to Hall, white voter registration in North Carolina, during this same period, only increasing 6%.
            “In raw numbers, the state added more black voters than white voters from June 2008 to June 2016 – 265,800 compared to 253,300,” says Hall. “There were an additional 52,800 Latino voters. There were more than 100,000 additional voters who did not mark a racial classification when they registered. Over 300,000 (about 4.5 %) of all voters registered left blank or marked “other” when given the choice  (of ethnicity to choose from.}”
            Hall continued that the counties with the biggest voter registration gains were urban, suburban, coastal resort counties and those with military bases nearby.
            The numbers show that overall, Wake had a 23% increase in voters, compared to Mecklenburg County’s increase of 16%, and New Hanover’s 20%.
            In terms of black voter registration, in New Hanover County went up 27% by over 4500, while whites increased 14% by over 15,000. Democrat registration was up just 3 %, outpaced by Republicans at 5% and unaffiliated by a whopping 63%.
            Wake County also saw a bump in black voters since 2008 by 29% (over 30,000), whites by 11%, Democrats up by 12%, Republicans by only 4%, and unaffiliated by 63%.
            In Forsyth County, where the number of registered voters has gone from 204, 443 in 2008, to currently 242,208. - an 18% jump – Black voter registration ballooned 28%. Whites voters only increased by 9%.  Unaffiliated voters there also exploded 64%, or by over 25,000. Democrats by 10%, and Republicans by only three percent.

                                                            -30 -

            [RALEIGH] With 100% of precincts statewide, Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan finished second to qualify to appear on the November ballot for the NC Supreme Court. The top votegetter was incumbent NC Associate Justice Bob Edmunds, who led a field of four with 48%. Judge Morgan followed with 34%.

            [RALEIGH] After a brutal television campaign where she was portrayed as a “Republican in name only,” GOP Second District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers lost a bitter primary Tuesday to 13th District US Rep. George Holding, 53% to 24%. Greg Bannon came in third with 24%When lawmakers  redrew the districts last February, he targeted Ellmers, who was considered weak by Tea Party hardliners. GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump taped robocalls for Ellmers.

            [RALEIGH] Under tremendous pressure to change a Republican proposal to lower tuition at five small UNC campuses – including at three HBCU’s - to just $500.00-per-semester, the measure’s sponsor,  Sen. Tom Apodaca [R- Hendersonville] introduced an amendment to his bill to remove Fayetteville State University, Winston – Salem State University and Elizabeth City State University. Apodaca blasted his critics, saying that his bill would have increased enrollment at UNC smaller schools The NCNAACP and others countered that the schools would lose money, and standing, and soon would be closed.

            There wasn’t an empty seat to be had Tuesday night during the Raleigh City Council budget hearing when local police officers and firefighters crowded chambers to demand better pay and benefits than what is being offered. City Manager  Ruffin Hall has proposed a 3.25% annual hike for city workers. Bujt firefighters want a 7% annual raise. Police want to seat least 5% to 10% more in their paychecks. The council is considering a $859 million budget foe the new fiscal year beginning  July 1st.

            A bill that would prevent North Carolinians from seeing police body cam video cleared a state House committee this week and could be on the House floor for a vote next week. The sponsor of HB972, state Rep. John Faircloth [R – Guilford], a retired police chief, says he’s pushing the bill to protect private citizens, mot police officers. No copies can be made or. released to the media unless ordered by a judge.
The bill hits the House floor next week.


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