Archives for June 2014

Will ‘Moral Monday’ Protests Affect Midterm Elections?


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One-thousand arrests and counting is the word from the NAACP since Moral Monday protests began last summer.

Protesters are focusing on registering voters before the November elections.

Political Columnist Mary C. Curtis says things will get interesting.

North Carolina Republicans try — despite themselves — to win minority voters

In North Carolina, Republicans see a prime opportunity for a U.S. Senate win in November. So national and state party leaders, anxious to broaden the base, are again turning to African American voters. The latest effort is a North Carolina Black Advisory Board “to strengthen the party’s ties with diverse communities and expand engagement efforts across the state,” the Republican National Committee said in a statement Thursday.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said of the 11 board members, “Their knowledge and roots in black communities across the state will be invaluable as we share our message of empowerment and expanding access to the American Dream.”

They have their work cut out for them.

Charlotte Squawks really does meet SNL – just look at the cast

Charlotte Squawks X: Ten Carolina Commandments bills itself as Saturday Night Live meets Broadway. Since it invites the comparison, I feel free to make it.

Saturday Night Live, after being embroiled in controversy over its lack of black female cast members unless you counted Kenan Thompson in a dress, at last added Sasheer Zamata. However, this year’s edition of Squawks didn’t get the memo, as it has no African American women in the cast. Unless you count the big guy in a short skirt, spangled heels and a bad wig rubbing against the Pat McCrory stand-in. That would be Kevin Harris, a perennial show favorite when he dons drag. To some, that appearance may have left them wanting more. To others, it was hardly subtle and not all that funny. The Flip Wilson Show was a long time ago.

On Economic Competition In N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mayor Dan Clodfelter says thousands of jobs leaving our area for South Carolina is really not that big of a deal.

Still, it has many wondering if there’s a budding business battle brewing.

Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis separates reality from rhetoric.

For women of LatinaCon, growth in numbers and influence

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – With many Republicans running away from even a whisper of immigration reform after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shocking primary loss in Virginia, it’s been pointed out that such a short-term strategy for winning in 2014 might translate into problems with attracting the Hispanic vote in 2016. But that’s not the GOP’s only obstacle as it struggles to win the support of a growing U.S. demographic.

All you had to do was listen to the gasps that greeted an anecdote shared by keynote speaker Deborah Aguiar-Vélez at LatinaCon, a gathering in Charlotte last weekend of more than 300 committed, engaged Hispanic women — professors, entrepreneurs and community activists. Aguiar-Vélez described how she sent out an exuberant Tweet during a recent meeting in Washington of Latino alumni of Project Interchange, the American Jewish Committee-sponsored program that brings leaders and policy makers to Israel.

Sharing experiences with a group that included fellow Interchange alumna Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor led to Aguiar-Vélez’s optimistic tweet, quoting speaker David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Council. It read: “Latinos & Jews become stronger with each other presence.”

Political provocateur Ann Coulter saw the tweet and retweeted with a message of her own: “Yes, but one’s always the maid.”

Conjuring up memories of a father who was always there

My father was a magician. He conjured up fairy tale fantasy for his little girl, with paper mâché wishing wells and swing sets in the back yard for a birthday surprise. He made the pain disappear when my street-skating adventure ended with me head over heels and crying. His own frantic reaction made me more concerned for him than for my broken wrist.

He died more than 30 years ago, but the vivid hero of my imagination never went away. Maybe it’s because my son, who never got to meet him is so much like him, so I have to keep repeating the story. Maybe it’s push back against the myth of the absent black father – a story line even our president repeats in his forays into family politics despite numbers that tell a different story. Or maybe it’s because I miss him so much.

Newspapers cut opinion columns; African Americans take disproportionate hit

By Tracie Powell

This week the city of Memphis, TN, lost its only female, African American metro columnist. The editor in chief of The Commercial Appeal reassigned Wendi C. Thomas to lead the newspaper’s cops and courts beat, a job she first had back in 1998. The move is part of the newspaper’s efforts to reorganize for the digital era, according to an editor’s note.

But being a columnist, Thomas said, was her “dream job,” one she had performed in her hometown for nearly 11 years. “I was hired as a columnist. It was a miracle that I got paid to tell people what I thought,” said Thomas, who wrote primarily about social justice issues. “Now I’m back where I started.”

Columnist jobs are considered plum assignments for newspaper journalists, achieved only after years of honing the craft as a reporter and editor. The digital era, however, has turned that on its head, with commentary littering the Web. The difference, newspaper columnists say, is that their writing is always informed by reporting and adheres to journalistic standards; much of the commentary online does not.

Newspapers, in general, have drastically cut the amount of staff they devote to commentary, according to a 2013 Pew Research Report. While no one officially keeps tally, Pew wrote that membership in the Association of Opinion Journalists, formerly The National Conference of Editorial Writers, had dropped from 549 in 2006 to just 245 in 2013.

And while there have never been that many op-ed or metro columnists in other minority groups (Latino, Asian American or Native American), black columnists had made significant headway in securing these jobs. Now, they are being hit hardest in losing them. Since 2008, newspapers have laid off, reassigned, or retired at least 21 black opinion writers, according to the Maynard Institute’s Richard Prince. In 2011, Prince called the exodus of black opinion writers “a depressing trend.”

Prince is also a member of The Trotter Group, founded in 1992 by three high-level black columnists not only to increase the number of black columnists at mainstream daily newspapers, but also to nurture and educate future black opinion writers. The group is still in existence but has seen its numbers plummet from a high of about 40 members to now anywhere from eight to 12, co-founder Les Payne said.

While Payne acknowledged African Americans are still not at the table on Sunday morning talk shows and are now in decline at daily newspapers, he expressed optimism that African Americans are finding other platforms where there voices can be heard, particularly online. He pointed to Mary C. Curtis, a former columnist for The Charlotte Observer who now writes regularly for The Washington Post’s “She The People” blog and offers commentary on a local Charlotte TV station. Others include sports website Deadspins’s Greg Howard who, this week, penned an epic takedown of another sports columnist and commentator, ESPN’s Jason Whitlock, and The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, who recently produced a piece making the case for reparations that set site traffic records.


Remembering Freedom Summer

It was a summer that saw a national spotlight turned on injustice, as more than 1,000 out-of-state volunteers joined activists who had been doing the work on the ground in Mississippi with a goal of teaching and registering voters. Just 50 years ago, for a black citizen in many Southern states, going to the local county courthouse to register to exercise the fundamental right to vote meant risking your job, everything you owned, and your life. Many took that risk and paid the price.

Ruby Dee, a graceful yet fierce theatrical and political trailblazer

She always looked so beautiful – a beauty that came from within, from knowing that even when silent you are fighting the good fight. Whether speaking at the March on Washington in 1963 or sharing a movie scene with Denzel Washington or a stage with James Earl Jones, Ruby Dee – small in stature but not influence – commanded attention. Just last weekend, Tony award-winner Audra McDonald called Dee’s name as she thanked “all the shoulders of the strong and brave and courageous women that I’m standing on.” She was not the only one who felt that way. On Thursday word came that Dee, 91, had died.

Breaking Down the Battle Over Charlotte-Douglas International


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Local lawmakers are calling it a sneak attack. They’re describing the NC Senate finance bill that puts the fight to control Charlotte-Douglas International back on the front burner.

WCCB Political Contributor and Washington Post Columnist Mary C. Curtis joined Rising to breakdown the impact this debate could have on you and the City of Charlotte.