By Cash Michaels
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FIRST LADY - Want to give a belated “Happy Birthday” shout-out to First Lady Michelle Obama, who celebrated, along with the president and her two daughters, on Monday, Jan. 17 while the nation commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In the past two years, Mrs. Obama has done nothing but made us proud as First Lady. She’s leading the nation in fighting childhood obesity, promoting healthy eating for kids and everyone.
And Michelle Obama, even before she ever stepped into the White House, has been a close and trusted friend to military families, families who have loved ones in harm’s way in either Afghanistan, Iraq, or one of the other many places we have American military personnel stationed.
There is no doubt that Pres. Obama adores his wife, and that she is his best friend. Michelle has his ear when no one else does. An accomplished professional in her own right, Michelle Obama is certainly someone we should model our daughters after.
So Happy Birthday, First Lady (and fellow Capricorn), and many, many more.
GOD HAS BEEN GREAT - GOD has definitely been great to my family and I thus far, this year. So please, Lord, continue to use me in any way you see fit. Thank you.
HI MOM - Last Saturday, January 15, was the second anniversary of the last time I saw my mother alive. Wednesday, Jan. 19, is the second anniversary of her death. Those two dates, plus her birthday on June 23rd, will always be with me.
THAT’S ME - Last week I told you how I came up with the name of my new blog, “The Cash Roc.” It was named after a dance I used to do (and created) while a teenager in New York over thirty years ago.
I forgot to include a picture of the outrageously handsome me (facts, just the facts) from back in that day. I was sharp, sexy and still a Christian!
Maybe in the next life the Lord will let me come back thirty years younger!
“OBAMA IN NC” AT NC STATE - Next Tuesday night, January 25th, as the nation watches the president’s State of the Union address (you know, the one where if another Republican member of Congress yells out, “You lie” again, there’ll be a Democratic member sitting right next to him to smack him in the mouth), I’ll be at NC State University for the screening of my awardwinning film, “Obama in NC: The Path to History.” It will be all part of NCSU’s Ninth Annual African Diaspora Film Festival that evening, starting at 7 p.m., held in the Witherspoon Cinema. I’ll be speaking that evening as well.
The ADFF, from January 19 to Feb. 16th, features Afrocentric films from across the globe. Call 919-515-6964 for more information.
MLK SPELLING BEE - Just when you thought there could be no more great ideas, comes one I would like to see expanded throughout the city, if not state.
Last Sunday, Watts Chapel Missionary Baptist Church held its first annual Martin Luther King Jr. Spelling Bee for youth members of the church grades 2-8.
Needless to say, because my wife, Markita, and youngest daughter, KaLa, are members of Watts, my little second-grader took part. It was KaLa’s first spelling bee, so needless to say, she was nervous as all get out.
But she was also well prepared. I know, because I prepared her. This was my personal project over the King holiday weekend - to work diligently with my seven-year-old on her spelling and word comprehension. The organizers with the Watts Chapel Academic Ministry had selected over 200 words for the grades 2-3 level, including a list of words that pertained specifically to Dr. King’s legacy (words like Georgia, boycott, bombed, and Morehouse).
The participants per the three levels had to study the words, know their meaning, and be prepared to spell them correctly when the competition commenced.
I preparing KaLa for the competition, I was interested in whether she won or not. That will come on time after she gets a few of these in her belt. But I did want her to work hard and focus for an important experience, one of hopefully many that will come KaLa’s way in the future.
Teaching our a strong work ethic is something I believe we owe all of our children, along with their earning the satisfaction of not only participating, but being rewarded for it.
So that little girl and I worked on those words (and some tricky ones at that for a second-grader). KaLa knew her stuff (though the third grade words were somewhat of a challenge since KaLa hadn’t really been taught them yet). So the challenge was getting her to get over her fear of being in front of a large audience, which is natural, and be able to think and function properly when her turns are called.
And so we worked, and worked, and worked. Instruction and advice. Instruction and pep talks. Lots of breaks, and lots of surprise tests of what she retained.
When the competition for grades 2-3 commenced Sunday afternoon, my lovely baby girl was as ready as she was going to be. I wasn’t expecting her to win, because this was her first bee. But I did want her to do her best, be strong and as confident as possible.
And she was. KaLa was up against some incredible competition at her level. And most gratifying was seeing a significant number of young black male students tough in there, not letting the supposedly “smarter” girls take all of the glory.
For her part, KaLa did magnificently well. Out of nine rounds, she lasted until the sixth, making the common phonic mistake at her age of hearing “cor” and spelling it that way, for the word “curious.” No question she’s seen the word before (KaLa loves to read and is a prolific writer). But in that public setting, my second-grader spelled what she heard because she hadn’t used that third-grade word that much yet.
Her mother and I couldn’t have been prouder of our baby girl. When her number was called, KaLa stood strong, stood straight, and spoke clearly. There was no question in anyone’s mind that my daughter was always in the hunt.
That’s all Markita and I asked.
In the end for the grade 2-3 competition, both a young male and female tied. Indeed, all of the young participants were very impressed, and all of us in the church audience (and there were quite a few who attended) were very proud, indeed. We saw young people who Dr. King, himself, would have been impressed with.
We saw our future, and it was good.
So Watts Chapel will hold another MLK Spelling Bee next year. But Watts shouldn’t be the only church to do so. Other churches across the community, in an effort to help teach our young people the value of education and hard work, should also sponsor spelling bees. Maybe not on MLK Sundays, but definitely once or twice a year.
Ultimately I would like to see the best spellers from churches all over compete in a major spelling bee competition that would galvanize the entire community throughout a city, county, or even the state. It would be yet another vehicle to give much needed scholarships to kids for books and clothes.
I think that would be a fantastic idea, and I give all the praise to Watts Chapel Missionary Baptist Church for doing theirs so well, and so successfully.
And one more thing, KaLa, I’m so proud of you and how well that you did, that I could burst. Let’s do it again next year, girl!
RALPH CAMPBELL - Last week, just after our press deadline, former state Auditor Ralph Campbell Jr. succumbed to lung cancer.
He was 64.
Looking back over the years, I, like many, am proud to have known and worked with Ralph. He was professional, polished, and the man had serious style. He was a good strategist, and excellent politician, and someone who cherished wisdom.
Last week, by order of Gov. Beverly Perdue, all state flags were flown at half-mast, and Campbell’s body lied in state in the State Capital Building, a truly high honor.
We should all be proud to have shared this time with this man of history, the first and only African-American to win statewide office in North Carolina.
Our prayers, condolences, and many thanks to the Campbell family for sharing him with us.
A JOKE - Man, when the US Education Secretary calls your public school system out of tens of thousands for doing bad things, you know you’ve reached the end of the line.
Let me be very clear. The hardworking, dedicated teachers, staff and administrators of the Wake County Public School System are NOT jokes! They were there during the glory years. They know their jobs. They know how to reach children. They just need a little more support from the four Republican members of the school board who clearly ARE jokes.
Let’s see, the Frightful Four have so far dismantled the student diversity program; hired a right-wing group to orientate new board members; hired a right-wing Republican Party attorney to defend them against the NCNAACP; hired a right-wing school superintendent who hates Pres. Obama, loves Sarah Palin, and has all of 19 months experience in education; is under two federal investigations by the US Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights; and have put the accreditation of 24 high schools at serious risk because they refuse to cooperate.
And that’s not even half of it.
So the Frightful Four of the Wake School Board, THEY are the jokes. Problem is none of chaos they’re causing is funny. Indeed, it is extremely tragic. And our children are going to pay the costs. What a shame!
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.Power750.com.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, by Cash Michaels, honored this year as well by NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian your life. Bye, bye.