‘Equal Time’ podcast: For Pride Month, reflecting on progress and the road ahead

As Pride Month ends, celebration is tempered by setbacks across the country, from laws that ban transgender athletes from competing in school sports to efforts to remove books on the LGBTQ experience from library shelves. And with a Supreme Court willing to overturn precedent, many wonder if LGBTQ rights will be next. What is needed, culturally and legally, to ensure forward movement on the path to equality for all Americans? What can organizations and corporations do to be more intentional in supporting the LGBTQ community?

“Equal Time” host Mary C. Curtis explores what comes next with guests Sasha Buchert, a senior attorney in the Washington, D.C., office of Lambda Legal, and Kendra R. Johnson, executive director at Equality North Carolina.

A Fourth of July tribute to those who love a country that won’t protect them

Just who deserves protection in America?

If you observe the folks this country chooses to protect and chooses to ignore, you may get an answer that doesn’t exactly line up with America’s ideals.

When Wandrea “Shaye” Moss bravely testified before members of the House Select Committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, I was enraged, though I know my rage slips me into the stereotypical category of “angry Black woman.” I refuse to give up a full palette of emotions because of fear of judgment.

When I heard her mother, Ruby Freeman, speak of the horrors she has had to endure, I was sad for her and for America. “Lady Ruby” was the moniker she proudly used to display on her shirt until racist political operatives dragged that earned good name through the mud.

At an age when she should be comfortably enjoying life, lauded for her community service, Lady Ruby’s life has been forever changed. “Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?” she asked. “The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American.”

She’s right, of course.

‘What Next’ podcast: What Texas Can’t Forget

One tragedy replaces another in the headlines—that’s just how things go.

The Texas state Legislature isn’t scheduled to convene until January 2023, when the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde will no longer be fresh in people’s minds, and the momentum for changing Texas’ gun laws will be long gone. One state senator, however, won’t accept that.

Guest: Roland Gutierrez, Democratic Texas state Senator for District 19, which includes Uvalde.

Local News Roundup: COVID vaccines for the very young; Bruton Smith remembered; NC’s first case of monkeypox

COVID-19 vaccines are now available in Charlotte for children 6 months to 5 years old for the first time. We’ll talk about where you can get them.

This week marks two years since a shooting on Beatties Ford Road, with still very few answers.

NASCAR Hall of Famer and founder of Charlotte Motor Speedway Bruton Smith died this week at the age of 95. We’ll talk about his long and sometimes controversial life in motorsports.

At this week’s City Council meeting, south Charlotte residents spoke out about a plan for developveloping apartments in their neighborhood.

The NBA draft starts Thursday. What are the Hornets’ prospects? We’ll get a rundown on that and what the organization plans to do after their anticipated new head coach backed out of the job.

And North Carolina sees its first documented case of monkeypox.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and all the week’s top local and regional news on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.

GUESTS:

Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Claire Donnelly, WFAE health reporter

Seema Iyer, chief legal correspondent WJZY Queen City News

What hate did to Birmingham

In the 1950s, Atlanta and Birmingham were about the same size, with about the same population, problems and promise, John Archibald points out in his book “Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution.” But then, Atlanta fashioned itself the city “too busy to hate,” while Birmingham, “as the world would learn, was not that busy.”

I told Archibald I would reference that line, crediting him, of course, after he repeated it in a speech during the recent National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference in that Alabama city, his home base, because it was both ruefully funny and soul-crushingly tragic — and most of all, because it provides a too accurate view of a cycle that continues, one you don’t have to travel to Birmingham to observe.

Those at the conference got a chance to witness the roots and results of what hate did to Birmingham, how it labeled the city and hobbled its progress, during a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Unfortunately, those who most need to learn its lessons would never have the sense or the courage to set a foot inside.

When will Congress call domestic terrorism by its name?

I can’t imagine how Garnell Whitfield Jr. did it, how he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to demand some sort of action from the country’s leaders on gun violence and on the domestic terrorism wrought by white supremacy. But as I was riveted by his testimony, I realized the strength and courage he must have drawn from the memory of the mother he will never stop grieving.

Ruth Whitfield, at 86, was the oldest victim in a shooting at a Buffalo supermarket that left 10 people, all African Americans, dead. It was May 14, not even a month ago. Yet there have been so many shootings since, it sometimes seems as if the rest of the world has forgotten. An 18-year-old white man is accused of carrying out the racist attack, accused of driving hours to hunt and murder as many Black people as possible.

“I would ask every senator to imagine the faces of your mothers as you look at the face of my mother, Mrs. Ruth Whitfield,” Garnell Whitfield testified on Tuesday.

Would they be able to do that?

“Ask yourself,” he said, “is there nothing we can do?”

The track record isn’t great.

I’m not sure what Whitfield was expecting from lawmakers who have a hard time even naming what happened. How, then, could they put themselves in his shoes?

Garnell Whitfield is far ahead of our elected representatives, many of whom want, have always wanted, to distract and downplay, to accuse others of bad intentions, to look everywhere but into the eyes and the broken heart of a man whose life has been forever changed.

Whitfield’s plainspoken speech must have startled those reluctant to call out “domestic terrorism” and “white supremacy” for the dangers they are, despite the warnings from FBI Director Christopher Wray’s March 2021 testimony before the same committee about the connection between the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and right-wing “domestic terrorism.”

They would rather, as Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have done and continue to do, point to acts of violence by those on the left and accuse Democrats of using any effort to counter domestic threats as an excuse to go after political opponents.

A preview of the Jan. 6 committee hearing from a national and NC lens

This week, the house committee investigating the January 6th insurrection plans to hold its first hearing on its findings. On Sunday, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney was asked by CBS News if this was a conspiracy.

“It is extremely broad. It’s extremely well-organized. It’s really chilling,” she responded.

Several North Carolina residents have been arrested for allegedly taking part in the insurrection. Politicians have also been implicated. That includes former North Carolina congressman and former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Last week, the Department of Justice declined to prosecute Meadows after Meadows did not cooperate with the investigation.

We discuss what we know about the investigation’s findings so far and what it means for our state and our country.

GUESTS

Megan Squire, senior fellow for data analytics at Southern Poverty Law Center

Michael Gordon, reporter with The Charlotte Observer

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

‘What Next’ podcast: The Right’s Poll-Watching Army

Republicans who still haven’t accepted that Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in 2020 are recruiting “a volunteer army” of poll watchers and poll workers for upcoming elections. For those who want transparent and fair elections, an influx of enthusiasm is theoretically a good thing. But if new poll workers and poll watchers have an agenda— chasing after fraud that didn’t happen—can they hurt more than they help?

Guest: Alexandra Berzon, investigative reporter for the New York Times.

Guest hosted by Mary C. Curtis, columnist at Roll Call and host of its Equal Time podcast.

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Podcast production by Mary Wilson, Elena Schwartz, and Carmel Delshad, with help from Anna Rubanova and Sam Kim.

Local News Roundup: Budget season continues; $275 million proposal for Spectrum Center; Tepper development arm files for bankruptcy

Charlotte City Council passed its $3.24 billion budget for next year, and that means there will not be a tax increase for residents, while raising pay for city employees.

The city of Charlotte proposed spending more than $200 million to improve the Spectrum Center and $60 million to build a new practice facility for the Charlotte Hornets. The proposed improvements would be in exchange for the Hornets extending their lease to 2045.

David Tepper’s development entity has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In other sports news, Charlotte FC has already fired coach Miguel Angel Ramirez, just 14 games into the season. What’s behind this surprising move?

And Charlotte remembered North Carolina political pioneer and former county commissioner Ella Scarborough this week.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and all the week’s top local and regional news on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.

GUESTS:

Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal
Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”
Steve Harrison, WFAE’s political reporter
Danielle Chemtob, investigative reporter with Axios Charlotte

For Asian Americans, celebration, challenges and action

May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, has special significance in 2022, as both an acknowledgment of contributions and a reminder of a resurgence of xenophobic rhetoric and violence. Civil rights groups, academia and businesses have responded with action, education and activism, part of a “Stop AAPI Hate” coalition.

Mary C. Curtis speaks about the past, the present and future solutions with Anne Lee Benedict, active with MCCA — a national organization dedicated to advancing diversity, inclusion and equity in the legal profession — and Joanne L. Rondilla, an assistant professor of sociology and interdisciplinary studies and Asian American studies at San José State University.