Tuesday, July 5, 2016



By Cash Michaels

            2016 NC BLACK FILM FESTIVAL – One of my most pleasant surprises since I had to stop everything last March after I was diagnosed with acute leukemia was that the 2016 NC Black Film Festival in Wilmington had been delayed until September 15-18th in Wilmington.
            It was a pleasant surprise because last year, and I believe in years prior, the NCBFF had been held in March. My film, “Pardons of innocence: The Wilmington Ten” won Second Place in the Best Documentary category last year, and this year, I entered my short-subject documentary “WLLE: The Voice of the Community ” – about Raleigh’s first black radio station in the 1960s. The film made its debut at NC State in February 2015.
            But once I became hospitalized in Chapel Hill for four weeks, I had just tossed it to the wind whether my film was even accepted, given everything else I was dealing with. I had actually looked online to see news about this year’s NCBFF, but not finding any, I just forgot about it.
            So imagine my surprise to learn not only that my film was accepted, but the 2016 NCBFF was pushed back to mid-September. That’s great because I finish my multiple rounds of chemotherapy before then, and should be able to travel  [the illness, coupled with my trying to come back from a debilitating stroke to my left leg in November 2014, has me walking gingerly. Plus, I’ve literally had to stay away from public events because I’m susceptible during the course of treatment to infection because my immune system has been weakened.
            So GOD willing, I will be in Wilmington in mid-September for the 2016 NCBFF. I really enjoyed my visit there last year, and especially meeting  all of the new and upcoming black filmmakers and seeing their work and ideas. I’ve had stop plans for any new productions of my own that I was looking to do because of the illness, but my love of film and filmmaking has never waned.
            No, I’m not concerned with whether I win anything or not, because that is not why I made “WLLE: The Voice of the Community “ in the first place. But you do want to be amongst your peers, you do want to network and keep current in the industry, and yes, I do want some fresh fried fish, shrimp and scallops from the coast to feast on. Yes, yes and YES to all of that.
            So outside of the November elections ( which I predict we’ll all need a break from), I’m looking forward to bringing my family to the 2016 NCBFF in mid-September. Thinking about attending puts a smile on my face already.
            PLEASE PERMIT ME TO SIGH – These two stories theoretically have nothing to do each other, and yet they very much do.
            A few weeks ago there was a story about a Pew Research study that showed that two-thirds of blacks and Hispanics felt that President Obama did what he could during his two terms in office to improve race relations. That same survey, however, only had 52 percent of whites believing the same thing.
            Overall, 62 percent of Americans give the first black president of the United States credit for trying to bring th nation together, and try to bring about some understanding.
            So that now brings us to the second story, also from a few weeks ago, that as we said before, theoretically has nothing to the president trying to improve race relations, but as you’ll see in a minute, can easily apply.
             Back in April, the secretary of the Treasury announced that abolitionist Harriet Tubman would soon grace the front of the twenty bill, and slaveowning President Andrew Jackson would be placed the back.
            With the exception of coins, women rarely have graced the front of our paper currency, and black women virtually never. In a nation that is becoming more and more diverse every day, it just makes sense to make sure that that diversity is also increasingly reflected.
            Or, you would think..
            Enter right-wing Republicans. You know, the kind who still swear that America’s gone to hell in a hand basket just because an African-American has been elected twice.
            Rep. Steve King of Iowa was one of the first to raise his hackles, saying that as a conservative, he has the right to want things to stay the way they are. Thus, he saw no reason to change the $20 bill.
            But then Rep. King goes off the deepest end possible.
            According to the website, “Thing Progress,” He also called it “racist” and “sexist” to say that the United States should put a woman or person of color on the country’s money. “Here’s what’s really happening: This is liberal activism on the part of the president that’s trying to identify people by categories, and he’s divided us on the lines of groups,” he said. “This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine’s unifying. It says just don’t change anything.”
            Also, according to this “Think Progress” report, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump lso raised a little cane, calling placing Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill “pure political correctness.”
            All of this just because the United States wants to diversify it’s money. Mind you, the only diversity we tolerated so far is the Susan B. Anthony fifty-cent piece, and Native American heads on our pennies and nickels. But for some reason, having the face of a true American  hero, namely a courageous black woman who did all she could to free people, seems to insult some folks.
            Speaking of insults, no less than Dr. Ben Carson, the failed GOP presidential contender to successfully mumbled his way to a pot of campaign gold, agreed with his Republican colleagues, and suggested that Harriet Tubman be placed on a $2.00 bill.
            And you wonder why the term “negro” is still in our vocabulary?
            It hurts nothing to put Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on any of our currency. Indeed, years from now, our grandchildren will most likely welcome $100 bill with the face of President Barack Obama on it.
            What will the Rep. Kings and Donald Trumps of the world say then?
            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

            In  a scathing open letter issued just hours before presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke in Raleigh Tuesday evening, NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber, leader of the “Moral Monday” movement,  blasted the controversial businessman’s campaign for the White House, charging that it presents, “…an extremist philosophy of hate, greed, racism, classism and xenophobia.”
            “Your campaign, like the leadership of our Legislature and Governor, does not represent the politics of Lincoln, the call of justice, or the ethics of Biblical evangelicalism,” Rev. Barber wrote, apparently referencing Trump’s previous “ban all Muslims coming into the US” and “Mexicans are rapists” remarks. “So far, your campaign as the Republican [presumptive] nominee for President does not represent the ideals of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican who signed the Emancipation Proclamation and supported African Americans in their quest for freedom and citizenship.”
            The NC NAACP leader’s letter to Trump is noteworthy because in several of his speeches, the wealthy New York businessman has claimed that his policies will help African-Americans in the nation’s inner cities rebuild their communities with more jobs.
            Still, a Washington Post poll last month found that 94% of African-Americans surveyed across the nation had an “unfavorable” view of Trump, while logging a 79% favorable view of his Democratic opponent, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton campaigned with President Obama in Charlotte Tuesday, hoping to garner some of the president’s 51% national approval rating and 2008 coalition voters for this November’s general election.
            Even though Donald Trump does boast of some support from a cadre of black ministers with whom he occasionally meets, it was clear from Rev. Barber’s letter that he has not been one of them.
            Barber further accused Trump’s campaign of not representing the “ideals” of pioneering black Republicans like Abraham Galloway, who helped to found the GOP in North Carolina in the late 1800s, or Bishop J. W. Hood, who helped to craft North Carolina’s state Constitution during Reconstruction.
            These Republicans all believed in equality, voting rights, public education, and decent wages.  We do not object to Republican leadership as such, but to its failure to honor its own heritage,” Rev. Barber wrote.
            Barber then questioned what Trump’s candidacy actually means for the people of North Carolina, and where he stood on the issues of voting rights, the resegregation of public education and environmental protections.
            Mr. Trump, you and many in your camp say that you are not a racist at heart, though Republican leaders acknowledge the racist content of some of your assertions,” Rev. Barber continued. “ You say you love Latinos and care about the sick and the poor. You say that you are not xenophobic.”
            “Please back up your claims with concrete policies. That is where we have to look to determine these things—not just in your heart, but in the potential impact at the heart of policies you propose.”
            “When you come to North Carolina, remember that you are in the birthplace of the sit-in movement. You are in the state where Dr. King first delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in Rocky Mount,” the civil rights leader added.
            Barber then accused Trump of continuing the 1960’s “Southern Strategy” of dividing blacks and whites racially, and ignoring the needs of the poor.
            You have taken the “Southern strategy” a step further,” Rev. Barber insists to Trump.” In the past, its devotees would hide behind code words.  What you are saying was only supposed to be in the backroom, not on the platform.  There is something to be said for candor, but in your case it poisons our civil society.
In this state—in our Moral Movement, we have stood together by the  thousands with Black, Brown, Asian, Native American, young, old, rich, poor, gay, straight, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and people without faith who believe in a moral universe.”
            “Our fusion politics are a proud legacy here,”  Rev. Barber stated in his letter’s conclusion to Trump. “We know that what we need from any candidate for public office, regardless of their political affiliation, is a moral agenda centered in policies that establish justice, promote the general welfare, provide for the common good, and help us to join hands as we all move forward together. These are the ideals the better angels that should be at the center of our public debate and discourse.”
            Getting such an open rebuke from the state’s NAACP president could be politically fatal for Donald Trump in North Carolina. Even though the NAACP is a nonpartisan organization, under Rev. Barber’s leadership, it has proven to be a powerful force against what it considers to be “repressive” Republican policies in the state and the nation.
            The civil rights group has also been responsible for registering thousands of new voters in the state over past elections.  
By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            So exactly why would both presumptive presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump bring their campaigns to North Carolina so prominently on the same day this week, and weeks before their respective party conventions later this month? Quite frankly, most pundits agree, it would be hard for either one to win the November general election if they didn’t keep the Tar Heel State on the top of their priority lists.
            Clinton entered the Charlotte Convention Center Tuesday to thunderous applause, and the song, “This is My Fight” as she held the raised hand of her one-time rival/one-time boss, President  Barack Obama. They both spoke in front of a lectern with the official seal of the President attached, which is customary when the president makes remarks.
            Obama led chants of “Hillary, Hillary” while seated behind his former US secretary of State as she spoke.
            Clinton praised the president as someone “who never forgot where he came from,” and credited him with saving the nation from a “second Great Depression.”
            As if to assure that she would continue Obama’s legacy, “ Clinton told the cheering crowd, “….despite all the progress we've made under his leadership - and yes we have - we still have a lot of work to do."
            During his remarks, the president assured all that in his opinion, no one was more qualified to be the next president of the United States than Hillary Clinton.
            "I couldn't be prouder than the things we've accomplished together,” Obama concluded, “but I am ready to pass the baton.”
            At a campaign rally at Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium later that night, Republican contender Donald Trump welcomed supporter and possible vice presidential running mate Sen Bob Corker [ R-Tenn.] to the stage before delivering
A 66-minute litany of personal attacks on “crooked Hillary,” President Obama, and promising that if elected, he would “…make America great again” for everyone.
            Trump specifically zeroed in on FBI James Comey’s earlier announcement that no criminal charges would be lodged against Clinton because of her mishandling of classified US State Department emails on her personal server while serving as Obama’s secretary of State. Trump accused Clinton of “bribing” the FBI and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
North Carolina is a “battleground” state, considered just as capable of swinging “Blue” Democrat, thanks to Obama’s historic victory here in 2008, as it could swing “Red” Republican, evidenced since 2010 when the GOP took over majorities in the state’s congressional delegation, both US Senate seats, the General Assembly, the state Supreme Court and the Governor’s Office.
In 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the state over Pres. Obama’s reelection bid by a slim 100,000 votes.
Democrat Clinton and Republican Trump are on a path to claiming the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the White House in November, and North Carolina’s 15 electoral college votes are key, along with wins in other battleground states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, to what political observers say could go either way this fall.
Clinton spent an estimated $2.3 million in advertising in North Carolina, while Trump’s campaign hasn’t hit the Tar Heel State’s airwaves yet.
If a Democrat can claim at least two Southern states from the list, the presidency is almost assured. Republican presidential candidates have normally dominated the South in recent history.
In a head-to-head matchup as of June 24th, Clinton and Trump were virtually dead even in North Carolina when an average of all of the recent polling was measured. CBS News had Clinton up by 2, 44-42 over Trump. The conservative Civitas Institute also had Clinton by a slim two-point margin over Trump, 42-40. Ironically, the liberal Public Policy Polling had Trump past Clinton by two, 48 to 46. With a plus or minus 3 to 4 point margin of error for most polls, those latest numbers have both campaigns in a wash for now.
All of the above boils down to turnout in November, and specifically what the black vote in North Carolina will do, observers say.



            The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is apparently no fan of the NC General Assembly’s district map-making. Once again the federal appeals court, this time in the case of Wake County School Board and County Commission seats, has ruled that voting districts drawn by the Republican-led Legislature for this November’s elections are unconstitutional. The three-judge panel ruled that the new county lines, which observers claim were drawn to hurt the majority-Democrat boards, violate the Constitutional principle of one-person, one vote. The appellate court ordered the presiding  federal judge to issue a permanent injunction preventing any of the scheduled elections this fall based on the new Wake maps.

            After a contentious session, the Republican-majority Wake Board of Elections last week approved of twenty early voting sites throughout the county that voters will have ten days, starting Thursday, Oct. 27th,  to cast ballots at prior to the November 8th general elections. The 20 sites are four more than were opened for the 2012 general elections. Early voting ends Saturday, November 5th .  The sites will open at 9 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. weekdays. On Saturday, Oct 29th, early voting sites will open at 8:30 a.m., with the downtown Wake Elections Board office closing at 1 p.m., while all others will close at 2 p.m. On Sunday, Oct. 30th, early voting sites open at 1 p.m. and close at 5 p.m.. On Saturday, Nov. 5th, early voting starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.. On weekdays, the downtown Raleigh Wake Board of Elections opens at 8:30 a.m. for early voting and closes at 5 p.m.

            Year-round WCPSS students head back to classes officially on Monday, July 11th. Over 41,000 pupils attend Wake County ‘s 48 year-round schools – 37 elementary and 11 middle. Year-round students attend the same number of days of instruction as traditional calendar pupils, but the year-round calendar is structured differently to maximize learning and make best use of school facilities.



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