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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Not Raleigh? Charlotte one of four cities still in the running for the 2012 Democratic Convention

Posted by on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 7:32 PM


The 2012 Democratic National Convention could be in Charlotte. First week in September. And boy, State Democratic Chair David Young is psyched about it:

“North Carolina Democrats are honored that Charlotte has been named one of four finalists to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The Queen City would be an ideal location to host this important event, with a thriving downtown, a rich cultural history, and the capacity to accommodate a wide range of interests and tastes. The selection of Charlotte as a finalist shows that North Carolina continues to be a key battleground state and will be one of the most important states on the political map in 2012.”

Nowhere can I find the DNC announcement to which Young's full statement refers, but I believe the other three finalists are Philadelphia, Phoenix and St. Louis. All cities in swing states — PA, AR, MO — for sure. As is NC.

(Update: WRAL says the other three are St. Louis, Cleveland and Minneapolis. And the Charlotte Observer. Messes up my analysis below — I'll need to amend it.)

From what I read, Charlotte impressed by handling the National Rifle Association's national convention recently — no citizens were harmed (only the public good).

So let's see, what message does each city, if chosen, help the Democrats send?

* St. Louis: We care about dying cities, even if most of America doesn't.

* Phoenix: We've got the border issues solved, and we're ready to talk immigration reform.

* Charlotte: Nothing says TARP like a city with big bank buildings. We bailed 'em out, whether you wanted us to or not.

* Philadelphia: Anyone for a history lesson on the Framers, and overcoming political divisions for the good of the nation?

* Cleveland (added, per WRAL): Who needs jobs when there's rock 'n' roll?

* Minneapolis (added " " "): Keynoter speakers: Ed Asner and Mary Tyler Moore.

Liked Philadelphia, but apparently it's out? Still not seeing Charlotte, however.

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What should we do about the Wake schools? Community discussion tonight, 7 pm in Raleigh

Posted by on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 10:17 AM


No doubt you've read about Mayor Charles Meeker's displeasure with the Wake school board; Meeker is asking us citizens to help him figure out what his response to the school system — Raleigh's response, that is —ought to be. A lawsuit? A task force? Bring in a mediator? Something else entirely?

Some community leaders including Bridgette Burge, who's in charge of community initiatives and advocacy at the YWCA of the Greater Triangle, have taken up Meeker's challenge. They've called a meeting tonight — a community discussion — starting at 7 pm at the Revelation Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 805 E. Davie St., Raleigh:

In small and large group discussions, community members will:

* Share opinions, concerns and hopes about current events in Wake
County Public Schools,

* Offer ideas for what message to bring to Mayor Charles Meeker.

Free pizza, drinks and childcare will be provided, their announcement adds.

Burge is part of a "network" of groups (not a new organization or coalition, she emphasizes — no need to duplicate the Great Schools in Wake coalition's work) that is forming in response to Meeker's call and the issues raised by the school board majority's policies. The network numbers 11 groups thus far and calls itself the Wake Education Advocates. More will be said about the WEA's efforts shortly, Burge said in a note yesterday.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Their hunger strike is over. The DREAM of immigration reform continues.

Posted by on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Viridiana Martinez (left) and Rosario Lopez, on Day 6
  • photo by Bob Geary
  • Viridiana Martinez (left) and Rosario Lopez, on Day 6
Their hunger strike is over after 13 days, ended when one of them was hospitalized with heat stroke and exhaustion. But for the three young women who were encamped in Raleigh until Monday night, subsisting on water and sports drinks to call attention to their cause, the fight for immigration reform goes on. “We grew weaker, but our spirits grew stronger,” Rosario Lopez told 100 folks who attended a final fellowship gathering. “Let’s keep the dream alive.”

Lopez, Viridiana Martinez and Loida Silva stopped eating June 14 to protest the lack of congressional action on immigration, and in particular on legislation known as the DREAM Act, which would give the children of illegal immigrants a way—a path—to American citizenship. (DREAM stands for it stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.)

They wanted Sen. Kay Hagan, North Carolina’s Democratic senator, to sponsor it. (They didn’t bother trying to convince Richard Burr, our Republican senator.) That was their dream—that since they are Americans, they could be recognized as Americans.

But when Silva fell ill on Sunday in the sweltering heat, the others—and their supporters—had the good sense to end the action. Hagan, through a spokesman, had turned them down flat, saying through a spokesman that she’s only interested in “comprehensive immigration reform.” In pressuring Hagan, though, the strikers were able to make the case for the DREAM Act in media across the state and beyond.

“They did a great job,” said Ilana Dubester, a longtime immigrants rights advocate in Chatham County, “and they succeeded in what they set out to do, to build understanding about what the DREAM Act is and why it’s needed. I’m excited about their plans to go on the road, to talk about their experiences, and to motivate others to join them in this struggle.”

Nothing would’ve been gained, Dubester added, by putting their lives at risk trying to coerce Hagan into doing something she obviously wasn’t going to do willingly.

On the other hand, a supporter from Carrboro, Justin Valas, was sure that even Hagan’s consciousness must’ve been raised. “Just think,” he said, “about how many conversations Sen. Hagan’s staffers were having about those crazy kids in Raleigh—because you know they were talking about them.”


The thing about those crazy kids in Raleigh is, they weren’t crazy at all, though the situation they confront in our country is totally nuts.

[Continued below the fold; what follows incorporates material from a prior article posted June 20.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

One of the hunger strikers is hospitalized; fellowship service is still on for 8 tonight

Posted by on Mon, Jun 28, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Loida, at right in this photo from Day 6, was hospitalized last night. Rosario is at left.
  • Loida, at right in this photo from Day 6, was hospitalized last night. Rosario is at left.

One of the three young women on a hunger strike for immigration reform was hospitalized last night, apparently due to heat stroke. (Update: Just before noon, WRAL reported that Loida was treated and released from the hospital and is resting at home.) A fellowship event scheduled for 8 pm tonight — Monday — will go on as scheduled at their encampment. It's at the southeast corner of Lane and Wilmington Streets in Raleigh, very close to the Legislative Office Building.

An announcement came in today from the N.C. Justice Center:

Hunger Striker Hospitalized
Announcements about the strike will be made tonight at 8 p.m.

RALEIGH (June 28) — Loida, one of three women on a hunger strike until Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) co-sponsors the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was hospitalized last night after suffering what appeared to be a heat stroke.

Several supporters were among her when she fell ill. Friends and family are with her at this time. While we cannot offer specifics to the press this morning, a full update will be given this evening at 8:00PM at the campsite, located at the intersection of Wilmington Street and Lane Street in downtown Raleigh.

The NC DREAM Team, composed of the hunger strikers and their immediate supporters, had previously scheduled a fellowship event open to the public at the campsite for 8 p.m. Some of this time will now be devoted to updating press and all concerned community members about Loida’s situation and everything that has happened with the hunger strike thus far. We will still be accepting visitors to the campsite.

Any major announcements about the strike will be made tonight.

Efforts to schedule a meeting with the senator have not been successful. Last week, Senator Hagan announced that she would not support the DREAM Act, but it is unclear if she opposes it simply as a stand-alone bill or even if it were included as part of a broader immigration reform measure.

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Public meetings start today in Raleigh: What kind of transit? Going where?

Posted by on Mon, Jun 28, 2010 at 8:14 AM


It's called an alternatives analysis. That means the Triangle Transit Authority is going to weigh doing various kinds of something against doing nothing to improve bus and rail transit services in the region. Step one: hearing from you. Where should transit go? Should it take the form of buses? What kind? How about rail transit — should it be "commuter" style, with mainly rush-hour service? Or a true transit system that runs 24/7 with frequent arrivals and lots of stations?

The first of a series of public meetings takes place today, 5:30-8 pm at the Raleigh Convention Center.

Transit advocates, including the TTA's leaders, are itching to put a 1/2-cent sales tax for transit to a vote in Wake, Durham and Orange counties in 2011 or the spring of 2012. Before they do, they need to settle on a long-range plan that they can sell to the public. That's what these meetings are all about.

A basic question to be settled: What kinds of transit connections should there be between Raleigh and Durham? Commuter-rail service would mean morning and afternoon connections along the corridor from Johnston County through Raleigh, RTP and Durham and over to Hillsborough and Burlington. But during the day, service would be scant. On the other hand, a light-rail system would make frequent Raleigh-Cary-RTP-Durham runs, with many stops, but it would cost much more.

In Wake County, the business community seems much more intent on running light-rail transit, if it happens at all, up the Capital Boulevard corridor toward Wake Forest. Not, in other words, toward Durham.

Pushing back is Raleigh Councilor Thomas Crowder, who argues that the point of transit should be to connect the region, not disconnect it. Thus, he's determined that the first phase of a light-rail system through downtown Raleigh should "go west, young man," rather than northeast. Crowder's statement, from a recent email blast to his constituents:

It is obvious that creating a First Phase Regional "Light Rail" connection between the Triangle's major population centers (Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Chapel Hill) makes sense. First there are over 60,000 car trips a day on I-440 between Raleigh | Cary and RTP. Anyone who travels this corridor understands stand-still morning and evening traffic is almost a daily occurrence Durham and Orange Counties public officials are committed to connecting Chapel Hill and Durham with light rail in their First Phase. Connecting Downtown Raleigh, NC State, the Fairgrounds, Arena, Art Museum and I-40 | NC 54 Interchange and on towards RDU and Durham affords ridership opportunities to reduce congestion on SW Raleigh's road networks, provides logical rail connections for Convention Center visitors with major entertainment and cultural amenities located in SW Raleigh, but just importantly to you and our communities, it provides enormous economic development benefits for the District, attracting much needed services and quality of life improvements for SW Raleigh residents.

Light rail will provide multiple stops between Downtown and I-440, versus potentially only one stop on the NC State Campus for commuter, or "express" rail service. Multiple stops potentially located at the West Morgan area, NC State, Gorman Street, the Fairgrounds, Dysfunction Junction (Jones Franklin | Hillsborough | Western) and the NC 54 Interchange at I-440 will bring financial benefits and furnish regional transportation alternatives for the entire District, verses our residents being limited with commuter rail service. These multiple stops will attract density and mixed-use activities at the appropriate locations. This will work to preserve our existing neighborhoods, parks and open spaces, as well as make District D's existing neighborhoods much more attractive to future home buyers.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

First Burr-Marshall debate: One is strong, the other hapless.

Posted by on Sun, Jun 27, 2010 at 12:22 PM


I just watched a TV re-run of yesterday's U.S. Senate debate at the N.C. Bar Association meeting in Wilmington. In true, objective news reporting style, the N&O's headline — "Burr, Marshall rip Washington" — gave no indication whatsoever that one candidate might've dominated or that the other could've stayed home for all he said. (Oops. Did I just give my punchline away?) The newspaper's article, too, quite judiciously avoided any conclusions as to the Burr-Marshall outcome, and in fact gave more than equal time to the observations of the third candidate on stage, Libertarian Mike Beitler, who maintained — incorrectly — that the choice of Burr or Marshall was no choice at all.

So who won? Elaine Marshall did, convincingly, and I have to believe that even Richard Burr's staffers told him afterward that he can't get through an entire Senate campaign saying absolutely nothing about every issue.

Let me see if I can summarize the debate:

Marshall said the issues in Washington boil down to one thing, that Congress is so busying representing corporate interests (and taking their money) that it doesn't even see what's happening to working men and women, or to the environment. (See: Gulf Coast.) Is Washington overspending? Yes, it is, but the overspending is because of corporate subsidies, tax cuts for the rich and two wars. It's not because the unemployed are receiving jobless benefits.

Burr said the issues in Washington boil down to one thing, that Congress spends too much money. He said it repeatedly, but in an hour-long debate, he failed to mention a single area of spending that he would cut. He did, indirectly, defend his votes against providing extended unemployment benefits to those who lost their jobs because of the Great Recession — or as I would call it, and Marshall should too, the Republican Recession.

So if I understood Burr correctly — and if I didn't, it's because he was amazingly vague about every subject — the only "overspending" he'd cut is aid to those who used to work and are looking for work but who can't find work because the economy still sucks. Otherwise, he had not the first thought about how to change Washington's direction.

Beitler, a CPA who teaches business at UNC-Greensboro, would end the two wars immediately, cut like crazy — he didn't say exactly what, but he's a Libertarian, so figure nothing's off the table — and get the government out of "intolerance" business by, for example, dropping the laws against gay marriage.

He's not for any sort of stimulus. The stimulus must come from the private sector, he said.

Marshall: Pro-stimulus, specifically in the form of jobless benefits and federal aid to the states to save teachers jobs and forestall Medicaid cuts. (The $500 million problem, that is.) Marshall nailed Burr on off-shore drilling (he's on the Energy Committee and has done nothing to address the cozy relationship of the oil companies to the Department of the Interior's non-regulating regulators, she said; but Burr has taken a whole lot of campaign money from the oil industry.)

Burr seemed stumped about the problem of off-shore drilling, stumped about whether there should be more or less regulation of Wall Street ("We're just not smart enough to stop cheaters," he finally said after thinking about it awhile.) and stumped about whether there's a problem of too much special-interest money in politics. (Curbing big contributors, he said after a convoluted analysis of things, would result in more influence from the wealthy.)

I've been critical of Marshall over the course of the Democratic primary campaign, thinking she wasn't very sharp ... or, later, not sharp enough. I've been remiss in noting that, after an initial, less-than-boffo performance against Cal Cunningham in the first runoff primary debate, Marshall was much better in the second debate and better still when she claimed victory Tuesday night.

The difference between Marshall the first time I heard her in January and yesterday is huge. She's gone from dismal to very good; meanwhile, Burr's performance yesterday was, and I'll be polite since the one thing he did get across yesterday was his friendliness, hapless. Especially for a 16-year veteran of Congress.

But don't take my word for it. You can watch it yourself at

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Shop Local Raleigh: Saturday at Seaboard Station, 2-8 pm

Posted by on Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 4:05 PM

You've certainly heard all the arguments in favor of buying from locally owned businesses instead of chains, no need to repeat them here. (Or is there? Money stays in town, your neighbors are employed, they buy stuff, pay taxes, it's good for everybody — you know. Even if you shop at Wal-Mart, in your heart, you know.)

So Saturday, 2-8 pm at Seaboard Station (off Peace Street next to Peace College across from the State Government mall), local businesses in the Shop Local Raleigh organization will kick off National Independents Week. No, the week isn't named for the Indy, though it certainly could be, come to think of it. Local products, local produce, wines, and music. Also, face painting for the kids, and a dog wash for Otto.

Yeah, it'll be hot. Wear shorts. They're setting up tents, and Seaboard Station itself is a bunch of locally owned stores and restraurants— with AC.

Shop Local Raleigh is the newest effort to get local businesses networked and marketing as a team. I wrote a couple of years ago about an earlier, similar group called Raleigh Unchained. Shop Local Raleigh has a lot of the same folks behind it. It's Raleigh Unchained 2.0.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Marshall, Burr tied in new poll — and it's not a Democratic poll

Posted by on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 2:45 PM

Elaine Marshall
  • Elaine Marshall

Talk about your post-primary bounces. Democrat Elaine Marshall, whose chances against incumbent Republican Richard Burr were little and none on Monday — according to every pundit you know — is neck-and-neck with him on Thursday in the race for Burr's U.S. Senate seat, according to a new Rasmussen Poll. And as all poll fans know, Rasmussen's polls are either OK or a little skewed to the GOP side of things. They are not in the business of making Democrats look better than they are, put it that way. Three weeks ago, Rasmussen had Marshall behind by 50-36 percent while a PPP poll had her within seven points. The new Rasmussen Poll is: Burr 44, Marshall 43 — within the margin of error, obviously.

Here's a comment Jack Nichols, the Wake Democratic chair, made to me Tuesday night that I'll pass along. Burr's raised $10 million so far and spent half of it, and yet the polls haven't budged for him. He's still at or below 50 percent, not good for an incumbent. Marshall, on a shoestring campaign so far, has caught up and is all of a sudden looking pretty competitive. And confident — funny how winning makes you look more like a winner.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Marshall wins easily in U.S. Senate runoff; on the GOP side, it's a Tea Party for Bill Randall

Posted by on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 10:55 AM

Elaine Marshall
  • Elaine Marshall

(Update: Well, that didn't take long to organize the "unity" event with Elaine & Cal that's mentioned below. It's on Wednesday — today — at 1 pm at the state Democratic HQ, 220 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. The world is invited.]

For the second time, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall was a decisive winner in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. The first time, in May, she fell short of the 40 percent mark in a six-candidate field. This time, in a runoff against Cal Cunningham, she wins by a solid 60-40% margin. Election results are here: turnout was a dismal 4.5 percent.

The upshot of Cunningham's insistence on a runoff may be seven weeks wasted for the Democratic nominee. On the other hand, Marshall emerges from it as a stronger figure than she was in May and with a clear message about herself: If elected, she'll devote herself to "defending the interests of the people over the big corporations."

One red herring that should be dispelled: Cal Cunningham did not really run a negative campaign, despite what a lot of the media conveyed in their effort to make Marshall vs. Cunningham sound like the Battle of the Marne. Cunningham was generally positive except for a few digs at Marshall as a career officeholder. He drew no blood, nor did Marshall feel any need to come back at him. As a consequence, they had an amicable conversation tonight, according to Marshall, with Cunningham pledging his "complete support in every aspect of the campaign going forward." She told me that she and Cal and, for that matter, the third-place finisher in May, Durham lawyer Ken Lewis, who is now Marshall's campaign chairman, will hold a unity event in a few days — or as soon as they can put one together.

Marshall is drawing national political headlines as an "insurgent" victor against the Democratic establishment, and that can't hurt.
She couldn't help but mention that, having once beaten Richard Petty for the Secretary of State's job, she has now vanquished the "Washington establlishment" in the form of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which backed Cunningham.

According to Marshall's campaign director Thomas Mills, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was on the phone to Marshall within minutes of the race being declared for her. Reid, Mills said, promised that the Democratic apparatus will now go all out for Marshall.

Marshall enters the race against Republican incumbent Richard Burr, a one-term senator with an unalloyed record of conservatism, as a distinct underdog. But Burr's vulnerability is obvious as a card-carrying member of the Senate's filbuster-happy minority with favorability ratings of 50 percent or less in the polls.

If Marshall can take the campaign to Burr as a senator who only represents the special interests — like Wall Street, BP (Burr said he wouldn't criticize BP) and the insurance companies who fought health-care reform with the GOP at their backs — she may be able to close the gap.

it doesn't look like a Democratic year right now, of course. But June isn't November, and if there's one party that's less popular with the electorate than the Democrats, why, it's the Republicans!


Bill Randall
  • Bill Randall
Between Bill Randall and Bernie Reeves, goodness, they didn't win many adherents in their first primary campaign or their runoff. Randall took the GOP nomination in the 13th congressional district with 59 percent of the vote, but the vote was less than 6,500 people total, and Randall won with about 3,800 — less than it would take to win a Raleigh City Council district.

Randall, a Tea Party type, seemed to benefit from charges made by Reeves that he plagiarized his platform, as well as from his own wild speculations about BP and the federal government colluding to cause an oil-rig blowout in the Gulf. Republicans were in no mood for an orthodox candidate who played by the usual rules (you know, stick to the facts, use your own words). They preferred Randall, a candidate whose paranoia about government runs deep. (Deeper than Reeves' paranoia, you ask? Hard to believe, but yes.)

Oddly, Randall will be the second ultra-right wing African-American Republican in a row to challenge incumbent Democrat Brad Miller in the fall. Miller had no trouble two years ago defeating the hyperbolic Vernon Robinson. That was in '08, a big Democratic year, and '10 may not be. And Randall is no Vernon Robinson. He may, in fact, be more far-out.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The call from Pullen Baptist: Put Raleigh 2010 in the civil rights history books as the place school resegregation failed

Posted by on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 8:15 PM

Mary D. Williams at Pullen Baptist
  • Photos by Ava Barlow
  • Mary D. Williams at Pullen Baptist
[Updated below the fold to include the Letter from Wake County Jail written by William Barber and Nancy Petty.]

At Pullen Memorial Baptist Church last night, we learned that Mary D. Williams, the "parent" in the quartet arrested last week for disrupting the Wake County school board meeting, is a gospel singer with a fabulous, booming voice. The crowd, at least 250 strong and racially diverse, absolutely rocked as she led them in choruses of "Wade in the Water" and sang, "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel? Why Not Every Man!"

"Let's have some church," Williams told them. "That's what you need to get through this."

We learned that Tim Tyson, the Duke "historian" among the arrested 4, knows the civil rights history of Raleigh and Wake County as well as anyone — so he knows what "forced busing" and "neighborhood schools" are all about. Both terms are right out of the old segregationist playbook from George Wallace days, Tyson said.

We learned that the Rev. Nancy Petty, recently installed as the pastor at Pullen, intends that her church take center stage in this unfolding chapter of civil rights history just as it did in earlier chapters under the leadership of the Rev. W.W. Finlator. Nancy Petty was the white minister among the Raleigh 4. Petty said repeatedly that the time has come for "direct action," which may mean getting arrested as she did in acts of civil disobedience but also means marching, protests and demonstrations of all kinds. She read Thomas Jefferson's fiery words from the Declaration of Independence about the purposes of government and the right of the people, when a government "becomes destructive" of human liberties, "to alter or abolish it."

Above all, we learned that state NAACP President the Rev. William Barber, the Raleigh 4's black minister, fully intends to put Raleigh into the history books as the Southern capital city where Republican efforts to re-segregate the public schools a half-century after the Brown ruling were smashed by a latter-day civil rights movement. Barber called on the community to rise up and "speak in a massive way" at a protest in Raleigh on July 20, a Tuesday when a regular school board meeting is scheduled.

Barber said the time and place of the protest will be announced shortly. He called on religious leaders, parents, students and the 93 organizations in the HK on J Coalition to join him, and he vowed "to fight in every arena, and give no quarter," in opposing school resegregation in Wake County and throughout North Carolina.

Barber and Petty said that while they were in the Wake County Jail last week, they began writing a document called "A Letter from the Wake County Jail," a reference that just about everybody in the church understood: In 1963, after he was arrested during a peaceful protest in Birmingham, Alabama, the Rev. Martin Luther King wrote his famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" explaining the imperatives of civil disobedience in the pursuit of human justice.

The "Letter from the Wake County Jail" will be issued today, Barber said.

Barber said the General Baptist State Convention will join his call for mass action in a statement next week. The Eastern District of North Carolina A.M.E. Churches — 40,000 members strong, according to their spokesman Anthony Davis — has already joined the the call and will be coming to Raleigh July 20 to support the movement, Davis said, adding: "They don't call us the Freedom Church for nothing."

Barber, along with Tyson and Petty, spoke powerfully to the theme that the battle over the Wake County schools is not just an episode in local politics but a landmark chapter in the state's and the nation's civil rights history. Tyson said that, after the 1954 Brown ruling, "Raleigh never complied once to anything voluntarily" when it came to desegregating the schools. It took the Greensboro sit-ins and a series of NAACP-led protests and lawsuits to force desegregation in the '70s, two decades later. Petty said the pro-diversity side has shown its willingness to engage in dialogue with the new school board majority, the Republican Five, about how to improve the school system without reverting to segregated schools. But the board majority has refused all overtures, forcing those who believe in diversity to take up "direct action."

Later, Barber went further back in history to the post-Civil War North Carolina Constitution of 1868, which guaranteed every "person" an equal education and rejected language suggesting that some form of racial separation should be justified. "This crowd," Barber declared, denouncing the new school board majority, "is not just dismissing 56 years of history [since Brown], this crowd is actually messing with 142 years of history right here in North Carolina."

The Rev. William Barber II
  • The Rev. William Barber II

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No, no, no. You don't understand. Thom wasn't "misleading investors." He was just "letting the free market work."

by VirgilCane on State shuts down Sen. Thom ("I call them Moron Mondays") Goolsby's investment biz. (Citizen)

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