Archives for January 2014

Madam C.J. Walker: She had a dream — Local playwright Kami Shalom brings the first self-made female millionaire’s story to life.

Despite conventional wisdom, Madam C.J. Walker did not invent the straightening comb. The woman who started life as Sarah Breedlove of Louisiana — the first child in her family born into freedom, in 1867 — earned fame and fortune through ingenuity, innovation and hard work. Despite hard times and loss, Walker is regarded as America’s first female self-made millionaire after she developed products to help grow healthy hair, and when she died in 1919, left two-thirds of her fortune to black charities.

Kami Shalom hopes to correct the record with a transformation of her own. The Charlotte performer, writer and teacher will play 20 characters of all races, ages and genders to tell Walker’s story. Call Me Madam: The Making of an American Millionaire, presented by On Q Performing Arts and written and performed by Shalom, will take the Duke Energy Theater stage Jan. 29 through Feb. 1. Walker’s inspiring life translated into a local play is just one example in Charlotte of the strength and accomplishments of African-American women being reclaimed, on and off the stage.

State of the Union perspective

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Washington Post columnist, Mary C. Curtis, joins Rising with some perspective on Tuesday’s State of the Union.

Congressmen feel that the President needs to work with them, not go around them.

In his address, President Obama said he will use executive action to pass bills if necessary.

Much of his focus was on the economy and income equality.

Could NAACP leader and black GOP senator find common ground?

In the bipartisan effort to strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965, key parts of which were eliminated by the Supreme Court last year,  Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and the Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, would likely find themselves on opposite sides.

And that’s just if the debate were strictly political. Now, it has gotten personal, with Barber’s recent remarks about the tea party-backed Scott, the only black Republican in Congress, causing both sides to retreat to established positions and preconceptions.

Grand jury decides not to indict officer in N.C. shooting, but questions remain

CHARLOTTE – It’s a situation that won’t end quickly or easily. In a case that has drawn national attention, a Mecklenburg County grand jury did not indict a police officer on Tuesday on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the killing of an unarmed man.

Grand Jury Won’t Indict Officer Randall Kerrick, but Case Is Far From Over

Charlotte, N.C.- A Grand Jury decides not to indict the CMPD officer, accused of killing unarmed man Jonathan Ferrell. Tuesday’s decision leaves mixed emotions for both sides. Washington Post Columnist Mary C. Curtis joined Rising to break down what’s next in the case.

The president and the pope: What will they talk about?

During President Obama’s upcoming European trip, he’ll be engaging in important diplomatic and political discussions, including the Nuclear Security Summit, hosted by the Dutch government, and a U.S.-EU Summit in Brussels. But perhaps most anticipated by observers of church and state — and where the two intersect — will be the president’s planned March 27 get together with Time’s Person of the Year, Pope Francis.

North Carolina Welcomes President Obama to NC State


Charlotte, N.C.- Today, President Obama will announce a $140 million initiative at NC State, focused on hi-tech manufacturing innovation. The president says manufacturing is one way to get the country’s economy back on track. Washington Post columnist Mary C. Curtis joined Rising to discuss the president’s visit and how North Carolinians will welcome him.

President Obama may hit political turbulence in North Carolina visit

When President Obama visits North Carolina in a planned stop in the Research Triangle on Wednesday, it won’t be the first time a trip to the state coincided with his State of the Union address. Last year, a visit to the Asheville area followed the event; Wednesday, the president is expected to preview economic policy at N.C. State University in Raleigh before his Jan. 28 speech. Are there politics involved? The answer, as always, would be yes.

Yes, Greensboro Four pioneer Franklin McCain, you did plenty

CHARLOTTE — Franklin McCain never thought he was doing enough.

An icon of the civil rights movement, McCain was one of the Greensboro Four, college students who changed the world by sitting down at a whites-only lunch counter at F.W. Woolworth. Their simple request for service denied inspired many others in Greensboro, N.C., and across the country, where the “sit-in” spread.

But when I interviewed him 50 years after that Feb. 1, 1960, event, and asked the man who continued his activism throughout his life to grade himself, McCain thought for a bit before he said, “C-plus.” He continued: “I look at the all the situations I’ve been in and all the efforts I’ve been a part of, and I ask the questions, ‘Could I have done more? Could I have done it in less time? Could I have impacted more people?’ Each time I ask those questions, the answer is ‘yes, yes, yes.’ ”

McCain also gave advice to those who felt a little self satisfied: “Look around you. Do you see things that are not just? Do something about it.”

Franklin McCain died Thursday in Greensboro, his family has announced. While the world lost a civil rights champion, I lost someone who inspired me – not from a history book – but close up.

Choosing Mel Watt’s successor — on North Carolina’s agenda


Charlotte, N.C.- Former Congressman Mel Watt is now heading the Federal Housing Finance Agency, but his promotion leaves voters in the 12th Congressional District with no one to speak on their behalf. Mary Curtis joined Rising today to talk about the politics of choosing Watt’s successor.