Archives for July 2013

Keeping It Positive: Summer Entertainment to Savor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The end of the summer is the perfect opportunity to learn more about different cultures. Our lady about town, Mary C. Curtis, tells us about two great shows that you’ll want to check out.

Bon Odori Festival 

Dr. Seuss Musical

Franklin McCain, 53 years after Greensboro sit-ins, sees parallels in current North Carolina rights battles

t’s been more than 53 years since Feb. 1, 1960, the day when Franklin McCain, David Richmond, Joseph McNeil and Ezell Blair Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan) bought a few things from the F.W. Woolworth in Greensboro, N.C., sat down at the lunch counter, asked to be served and were refused because of their race. The actions of the four North Carolina A&T State University served as an inspiration, part of the sit-ins and civil rights efforts that changed the country.

The significance of that day has been honored and celebrated — with the International Civil Rights Center & Museum opening in the shell of that long-closed Greensboro Woolworth exactly 50 years later and a small section of the lunch counter on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. But in 2013, are the results of that historic youth-led challenge being rolled back in North Carolina, the state where it began?

Franklin McCain said he believes they are.

“Unconscionable,” he called the wave of conservative legislation pushed through this year by Republican super-majorities in the state House and Senate, with mostly support from GOP Gov. Pat McCrory. “I would love to sit here and be telling you today that we’ve conquered a whole lot of things,” he said in a recent conversation with theGrio in his Charlotte home. “It irritates me that things that we thought we solved 40, 50 years ago have raised their ugly heads again.”

Zimmerman juror says he ‘got away with murder’ in case that continues to divide

Juror B29 is the anti-Juror B37. The only minority among the six women who found George Zimmerman not guilty of murder and manslaughter in the killing of Trayvon Martin said Zimmerman “got away with murder.” She said on Thursday that she feels she owes an apology to Martin’s parents. “You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty.”

Her sentiments contradict Juror B37, who in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper expressed empathy with “Georgie,” and the armed neighborhood watchman’s frustration with crimes committed by “these people.” And while the words of Juror B29, a 36-year-old nursing assistant and mother of eight, won’t bring Trayvon Martin back, they publicly help to restore individuality and humanity to the unarmed 17-year-old and to his grieving parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton.

In the midst of politicians and pundits standing their ground, sometimes with seemingly little regard that a child was lost, Juror B29 talks about how she feels. “It’s hard for me to sleep, it’s hard for me to eat because I feel I was forcefully included in Trayvon Martin’s death. And as I carry him on my back, I’m hurting as much [as] Trayvon’s Martin’s mother because there’s no way that any mother should feel that pain,” she said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, to be broadcast on “World News” and “Nightline” on Thursday  and “GMA” on Friday.

How Weiner’s woes help and hurt Hillary Clinton

As Anthony Weiner’s latest admission that he has a sexting problem plays out, it can only help female politicians who have hopes of high office. Enough with these guys, voters might be thinking, as reminders of male politicians who have sinned cross their minds and TV screens.

Will a disgusted electorate decide that it’s time for more women in high office, with one woman in particular coming to mind? If that happens, Hillary Rodham Clinton, tops in polls of potential presidential candidates and already garnering endorsements, would seem the most likely to benefit.

But will the collateral damage of this particular scandal bring more harm to the woman who has a close tie to one of its players?

Keeping It Positive: Summer Entertainment in the City


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s summertime in the city and a number of performances are here to cool you off. Our Keeping it Positive Contributor, Mary Curtis shows us the cool spots to hang out for your cultural fix.

Africa Umoja at Blumenthal

Jazz at the Bechtler

On Obama speech and Trayvon Martin

Washington Post “She the People” blogger Mary C. Curtis and Reuters White House correspondent Steve Holland discuss the significance of President Obama’s speech on race and Trayvon Martin.

In conversations on race, everyone has to listen

CHARLOTTE — If President Obama’s personal and heartfelt speech on race reached only the ears of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, it would have been enough. “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” the president said, leaving unsaid a parent’s dream for a child, the unspoken other side of the equation, that Trayvon Martin could have become him in 35 years – an educated man, a husband and father and, perhaps, president of the United States.

“We are thankful for President Obama’s and Michelle’s prayers, and we ask for your prayers as well as we continue to move forward,” the parents responded. “President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our boy.” They will never have their son back but it must have been sweet relief to hear kind words from the president in a week when so many were trying to turn a 17-year-old into someone the people closest to him did not recognize.

The trial in Sanford, Fla., that ended with the acquittal of George Zimmerman for all charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin quickly turned into a debate on gun restrictions, Stand Your Ground laws, racial profiling and the justice system. Even for those who agree with the trial’s conclusion, Trayvon Martin’s life should matter.

That’s why it’s a good thing that the president’s Friday message was intended for more than an audience of two. “I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away,” he said to everyone. As people listened, they heard what they wanted to hear.

American history X: How Kinsey exhibit at Gantt Center fights the ‘myth of absence’

“Any Person May Kill and Destroy Said Slaves,” reads an arrest proclamation from 1798. Issued for “Jem” and “Mat” by Warren County, N.C., it may as well have been a death sentence. Even if Jem and Mat, two escaped slaves, were able to get to the North to a state that had abolished slavery, they would still be in danger. A clause in the U.S. Constitution guaranteed the right of a slave owner to recover his or her “property,” and the Fugitive Slave Act signed into law by George Washington in 1793 that made it a federal crime to help an escaped slave.

The document is part of The Kinsey Collection: Where Art and History Intersect, which is showing at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture until October. The more than four centuries’ worth of art, historical documents, photographs and artifacts that Bernard and Shirley Kinsey have gathered in more than 40 years of marriage shine a light on what can’t be denied or extinguished: African-American sacrifice and achievement is part of American history, not just African-American history.

Would Obama consider Ray Kelly for Homeland Security amid stop-and-frisk controversy?

It was no surprise that during interviews with Univision and other Spanish-language stations that aired this week, immigration reform was the most discussed issue for President Obama. With the U.S. Senate and House in disagreement over provisions of an overhaul, and Democrats and Republicans vying for the votes of a growing demographic, that was expected.

But while the president was not asked, nor did he speak, about the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case in Sanford, Fla., one that has spawned heated discussions about racial profiling across the country, he did speculate about a possible candidate for Homeland Security chief, someone who has become a lightning rod on the issue.

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would be “well-qualified” to run the Department of Homeland Security, Obama said in an interview with Univision’s affiliate in the New York/New Jersey area. He hasn’t actually named Kelly as his choice to replace outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is leaving to head the University of California system.

Was putting such a strong endorsement out there a first step toward seeing how Kelly’s name is received, or was it a case of the president being polite when being put on the spot?

Keeping It Positive: Pet Tips at Nature Museum



CHARLOTTE, NC: Children will say they want a pet. But they may not be ready for the responsibility. Columnist Mary Curtis always knows what’s happening in Charlotte. This week, she previews an upcoming event at the Charlotte Nature Museum called “Petapalooza”.