I have to admit I was a bit surprised by the biased spin against a long-standing business woman like Mrs. McLaughlin, Matt Saldaa put on this article--particularly since the Indy is known for thorough investigative reporting. I'm not from Durham but I used to visit relatives in the summer and we would all purchase candy from Mr. and Mrs. McLaughlin's "Neighborhood Store". This was in the early 1960s. They were very kind to the children that lived near the store, often giving us free candy--and a few of us--school clothes because of our poverty.
Why does Mrs. McLaughlin have to apologize to anyone for owning her own buildings and being a good businesswoman. How come Mr. Bridges can't work hard, sacrifice and build up his business like Mrs. McLaughlin.
I visited the Know Bookstore last year and was shocked at its demise from what it used to be 10-years ago. It was cluttered with used books, peeling paint and other junk. Where is the pride! Obviously, if people really supported this "community institution" it would not be as run down as it has become. I have been to Jazz at the Know, and on those several occassions I encounted four or five people milling around in a cluttered space. I brought people from out of town to come to "Jazz at the Know" and all we got was a high pressure sales pitch to buy a used book, and then we were served fish fried in burnt oil. My friends wanted to leave but I convinced them to stay a little longer--just to support an African American business owner. I can't ask people to go there in good conscience. Nothing personal against Mr. Bridges--but the food was bad and the store was nasty. We could not eat "our burnt fish" in peace without Mr. Bridges trying to sell us something!
I have been to well-run black bookstores and restaurants in other Metropolitan cities and the Know fails in comparison. It seems to me that the best thing Mr. Bridges could do is take Mrs. McLauglin's offer and move into a nicer, sleeker space.
While we were waiting for "our burnt fish" one of my friends picked up a polemical book written by Bridges called Free the African Mind. Some of the essays were not bad, but it is interesting that in the book Bridges champions economic uplift; he chastizes white people for all their crimes against humanity, and calls black people "Uncle Toms" for speaking poorly about other black people. It seems Mr. Bridges is not doing a good job of walking his talk. What "tangible thing" has Mr. Bridges given to the "black community" other than conspiracy rhetoric about Uncle Tom negro preachers, negroes at NCCU, negroes on the city council, racist whites taking over the city and blah, blah, blah. African Americans need thriving business models not the type of race-card rhetoric Bridges has dished out over the years when it benefits him.
Mrs. McLaughlin's work in the community via her business acumen speaks for itself. That is probably why she will not bother to defend herself against these attacks. I'm still waiting on Mr. Bridges to give us something...job training, educational opportunities, even decent books...other than talk. "Want a Bean Pie My Brother!"
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