There is more than one way to be Black — and to be an American

Elijah McClain of Aurora, Colorado, was many things. The slight 23-year-old, who looked younger, was a massage therapist one client described as “the sweetest, purest person I have ever met.” He was a vegetarian who taught himself to play the guitar and violin and shared his musical gifts with shelter animals to calm them. Family members said he sometimes wore a ski mask because he was anemic and always cold, and perhaps to create some distance in a world he found overwhelming. (And aren’t we all supposed to be covering our faces these days.) In his final trip to a convenience store, though, he interacted with the clerk and customers, it seemed from video, offering a bow on his way out.

Did he look “sketchy” and “suspicious” to a 911 caller and police because he sang to himself on the walk home and waved his arms, perhaps conducting a symphony only he could hear? McClain told the police who stopped him, “I am an introvert, please respect the boundaries that I am speaking.”

The three officers escalated the confrontation, took him down with a hold that made him utter a too-often-heard refrain: “I just can’t breathe correctly.” One officer threatened to sic a dog on him. If they saw his quirks, his idiosyncrasies, his joy, it did not translate. If they heard his pleas, these enforcers of laws the young man had not broken did not listen. “You are beautiful and I love you,” he told them. He apologized for vomiting as police tossed around his 140-pound body before medics shot it up with strong drugs.

Now, Elijah McClain, who police say committed no crime, is dead.

Special Program – Black Charlotteans: A Candid Conversation On Race

The death of George Floyd and the unrest that exploded across the country has forced a conversation on the table. It’s a wake-up call for America to examine the impact of racism and reckon with injustices people of color face daily. Every Black American has a story to tell. Is the country ready to listen? Award-winning columnist Mary C. Curtis sits down with fellow Charlotteans of color to share some of those stories and reflect on this moment.

Host:

Mary C. Curtis, journalist, speaker, columnist at CQ Roll Call, and contributor to WFAE, WCCB-TV and a variety of national outlets. She is senior facilitator with The OpEd Project.

Panelists:

Tracey Benson, assistant professor of educational leadership at UNC Charlotte and author of “Unconscious Bias in Schools: A Developmental Approach to Exploring Race and Racism.”

Justin Perry, owner and therapist at Perry Counseling Healing and Recovery. He is a partner with the group Charlotte for Black Futures

Tonya Jameson, political consultant, former Charlotte Observer reporter

Leondra Garrett, native Charlottean and longtime community advocate who works with the groups Block Love Charlotte and United Neighborhoods of Charlotte to build community and feed our homeless neighbors.

Mary C. Curtis: Lawmakers Work On Police Reform Legislation

CHARLOTTE, NC — WCCB political contributor Mary C. Curtis talks police reform as lawmakers of both parties work on a legislation.

Mary C. Curtis: Calls for Police Reform

CHARLOTTE, NC — Calls for police reform continue to grow in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis two weeks ago.

WCCB political contributor Mary C. Curtis discusses the changes happening on the local level and across the country.

POLITICAL WRAP: CMPD & Chemical Agents; Protest Reaction Worldwide

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Monday night, Charlotte City Council will talk about the use of chemical agents on protesters.

It comes as the SBI is looking into tactics officers used on Tuesday night.

Also, how protests for racial justice across the country are now getting worldwide attention.

Click above for more with WCCB Charlotte Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: Charlotte Protests, CMPD Response; RNC May Leave Charlotte

Charlotte has faced several days of protests, both peaceful and violent, after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. The protests have involved clashes with CMPD and many complaints about how the police have handled the protesters, but several police officers hope to have constructive conversation with the protesters. Thousands have hit the streets of Charlotte to protest, from Beatties Ford Road to uptown to Myers Park. We’ll talk through the demonstrations, the protesters, the chaos and the police response.

President Trump and the Republican National Committee are exploring other cities to hold the RNC this year, after Trump said this week that he’d move the convention out of Charlotte. We’ll talk about Gov. Roy Cooper’s negotiations with the RNC about having a safe convention in the midst of the pandemic and what options there still are to hold a part of the convention in the city.

We’ll give the latest on the coronavirus, as officials worry that the protests in Charlotte and the recent Phase 2 opening will result in a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Plus, we’ll have an update on the Mecklenburg County budget, which was approved this week, forcing Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. We’ll have more on the discussions at that meeting as well.

Guests:

Erik Spanberg, managing editor at the Charlotte Business Journal

Glenn Burkins, founder and publisher of QCityMetro.com 

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB 

Ann Doss HelmsWFAE education reporter

Mary C. Curtis on the Killing of George Floyd

Mary C. Curtis, award-winning columnist, writer, speaker, and editor, talks about the killing of George Floyd, and why when white friends don’t believe what blacks go through, they’re not friends.

Mary C. Curtis: George Floyd Protests, Americans Frustrations, and Nationwide Call to Action

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — People across the country are pushing for criminal justice reform in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a now ex-police officer in Minneapolis.

WCCB Political Contributor, Mary C. Curtis has more on the nationwide call to action and the frustrations from fellow Americans.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: No Charges for CMPD Officer; Racist Letters to CLT Leaders

No charges will be filed for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officer who shot Danquirs Franklin at a Charlotte Burger King back in March. District Attorney Spencer Merriweather announced on Wednesday that Officer Wende Kerl will not face charges in connection with Franklin’s death.

Many black elected officials in Charlotte- including the mayor- received a racist letter this week that was addressed to city council, the county commission, police, fire and CMS School Board. The letter was directed to black Democrats and said that they should be “tarred and feathered and run out of town.” We’ll talk about reaction to the letter by several local leaders.

New CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston has a 3-year contract, which was announced earlier this month. But this week, school board members clarified that Winston could be fired with 60 days’ notice without giving a reason, making his job security not quite as strong as once thought. We’ll talk about what board chair Mary McCray said about it.

And an update on the push to pass a quarter-cent sales tax vote for the arts in Mecklenburg County.

Guests:

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

Katie Peralta, reporter for Charlotte Agenda

David Boraks, reporter for WFAE 

Jonathan Lowe, reporter for Spectrum News 

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: NC Gerrymandering At SCOTUS; Deadly CMPD Shooting; CMS Budget

Charlotte grapples with another deadly police shooting. A CMPD officer shot and killed a man outside a Beatties Ford Road restaurant Monday morning. Police say the man had a gun and posed a threat, but protestors paint a different story.

The long-awaited Mueller report has been handed over. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham says it removes a cloud over the president, and now he wants to investigate the FBI for possible anti-Trump bias.

The U.S. Supreme Court once again sounds reluctant to take a stance on partisan gerrymandering as the justices hear arguments over North Carolina’s congressional map.

An official in the Charlotte Catholic Diocese resigned following an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools superintendent Clayton Wilcox seeks a big increase in county funding for the school system, with a focus on teacher pay and the district’s racial disparities.

Also this week, wheels are in motion in the South Carolina legislature to lure the Carolina Panthers headquarters across the state line. Lawmakers gave an initial okay for millions in tax breaks.

Those stories and more on this week’s Local News Roundup.

Guests

Mary C Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

Jonathan Lowe, reporter for Spectrum News

Steve Harrison, WFAE’s political reporter

Glenn Burkins, editor and publisher of Q City Metro