Archives for September 2013

Is fear of a black man justified?

The story was about one particular case — a sad one, to be sure – but one that involved individuals, each with a name and story. When Jonathan Ferrell was killed in Charlotte, N.C., nearly two weeks ago, it shattered his family –which is now planning his Saturday funeral in Tallahassee, Fla.– and forever affected the life of the police officer accused of voluntary manslaughter in his death, no matter the verdict in his trial.

Many in a community that prides itself on getting along are asking questions and demanding changes – including a strengthened Citizens Review Board – to prevent a repeat of what happened.

Yet for many who commented on my story and NPR appearance that laid out the facts as they are now known, the case is already closed. For them, the woman who responded to Ferrell’s post-car accident knock on her door for help in the middle of the night with a frantic 911 call about a robber was making the only logical assumption. And Officer Randall Kerrick’s decision to fire 12 times at Ferrell, who police say was coming toward him, was more than justified. No more fact-finding is necessary, according to the critics of the charges filed against the officer.

The people that should be made to answer for the death of the unarmed Ferrell are black men – all of them, they told me.

Lloyd Knight to inspire and entertain at UNC Charlotte

When he was a middle-school student, Lloyd Knight made a deal that he called “my dad’s tradeoff.” His father told him, “If you’re going to dance, you’re going to do karate.” For a while, he took karate at night. But dance won.

At 30, Knight – with the support of his family — is in his eighth season with the New York-based Martha Graham Dance Company, a soloist who has performed starring roles in iconic works such as “Appalachian Spring.” On Sept. 28, as part of the UNC Charlotte Department of Dance’s annual Faculty Concert, Knight and fellow Graham company member Lorenzo Pagano will dance “Traces,” part of a larger work in progress choreographed by Kim Jones, assistant professor of dance at the university. It will be a reunion of sorts — Jones was a dancer with Graham’s company.

N.C. Officer Charged In Death Of Unarmed Black Man

A North Carolina police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed black man.

Officer Randall Kerrick of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department fired 12 shots, ten of which hit 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, according to authorities.

Ferrell, who had played football for Florida A&M University, was seeking help after crashing his car, according to authorities.

When he knocked on a woman’s door, she called 911 — alarmed to find Ferrell on her doorstep.

When officers arrived at the scene, authorities say Ferrell ran toward officers. When a Taser failed to stop his approach, Kerrick fired.

Now, Reuters reports, civil rights leaders are demanding that video footage of the incident be made public.

What’s Next for Charlotte After a Series of Shootings

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A series of recent shootings have plagued the streets of Charlotte and even brought on loads of national attention. So what’s next? Mary C. Curtis explains how the community can come together in times like these.

After Jonathan Ferrell shooting, a plea for ‘the benefit of the doubt’ for young black men

CHARLOTTE – Sadness in the faces of the crowd of about 50 gathered Monday at the government center here did not mask the frustration and anger.  “No justice, no peace” — the chant was familiar — as speaker after speaker at a news conference asked for answers and demanded change.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are piecing together what happened last Saturday. Around 2 a.m., a 24-year-old man was apparently looking for help after a car crash, a woman called police when she didn’t recognize the man knocking on her door, and one of three responding officers hit the man with 10 shots (of 12 fired) after a Taser either didn’t work or didn’t stop the man fitting the description of the caller. Was the man running? Did the officers identify themselves? Why did only one officer fire? The details are still being investigated.

What is known is this. Jonathan Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player who had moved to Charlotte, worked two jobs and looked forward to marrying his fiancée and returning to school, is dead. Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, has been charged with voluntary manslaughter. Georgia Ferrell has become a grieving mother holding her son’s childhood Winnie the Pooh doll. She said she forgives the man who shot her son, but cannot understand how and why it happened.

Has the National Action Network surpassed the NAACP in influence?

As Ben Jealous prepares to step down from his leadership post at the end of this year, there is no question that he brought stability and visibility in his five years as the president and CEO of the NAACP.

Now, as members and observers give Jealous a proper celebratory sendoff, they are also looking to the future of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. How is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, founded in 1909, tackling 21st-century challenges and what is its relationship with other civil rights organizations?

Second acts for Paula Broadwell and David Petraeus

Author Paula Broadwell and retired Gen. David Petraeus are in the news again – for different reasons and with very different reactions.

Broadwell, a guest speaker Tuesday at one of the best-attended Rotary Club of Charlotte meetings ever, is settling back into her life with her doctor husband and two young sons. The club’s report on her appearance featured the topic of her speech, military veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. There was no mention of the frenzy that last November accompanied news of her affair with then-CIA director Petraeus.

Picking Charlotte’s Next Mayor


Charlotte, N.C.- We are one step closer to seeing who will be the next Mayor of Charlotte. Mary C. Curtis joined the Rising crew with more on how this race could impact the Queen City.

Italy’s immigration debate turns racist, sexist and personal

Cecile Kyenge is a strong woman. She has to be. As Italy’s first black cabinet minister, she has had to endure a string of repeated racist, sexist and sexually violent insults, and she has answered them with a calm that has only made her critics bolder.

In the latest incident Wednesday, Italy’s far-right Forza Nuova party left three mannequins covered in fake blood at the front door of an administrative office in Rome. “Immigration is the genocide of peoples. Kyenge resign!” read fliers with the Forza Nuova symbol, scattered around the mannequins, according to a Reuters report. Forza Nuova posted pictures of the mannequins on Facebook, with comments explaining the gruesome stunt as a protest against Kyenge’s campaign to make it easier for immigrants to acquire Italian citizenship, the story said. It wasn’t the first time the party used the tactic.

Kyenge, 49, an eye doctor and Italian citizen married to an Italian, was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo; she moved to Italy when she was a teen to continue her studies. After being elected to office, she was named minister of integration by Prime Minister Enrico Letta this year. Kyenge, who can relate to the experience of those moving to Italy for opportunity, has favored legislation that would allow children born in Italy to immigrant parents to get automatic citizenship. That’s a change in a country where nationality is judged more on blood than birth.

Changes in Charlotte Since the DNC


Charlotte, N.C.- A year has passed but the impact from the Democratic National Convention lives on in the Queen City. Mary C. Curtis was among the movers and shakers during the DNC. She joined Rising to talk about how the city continues to blossom.