Friday, August 31, 2012


                      CONGRESSMAN JAMES CLYBURN (D- SC)



By Cash Michaels
Editor, The Carolinian Newspaper

            The third most powerful African-American in Congress says that in their zeal to stop President Barack Obama’s agenda, congressional Republicans were “disloyal” to the nation.
            South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn (D - SC) also charged that Pres. Obama has met with so much opposition, degradation of his character and humanity by the right-wing, because they refuse to believe that an African-American is “not capable” of being president of the United States.
            In an exclusive interview Thursday with the Power 750 WAUG-AM radio program “Make It Happen,” Rep. Clyburn - reacting to the GOP continuing to push the false birther and welfare claims against the nation’s first black president during their Republican National Convention week - charged that the Republicans never had any intention of working with, or even compromising with Pres. Obama for the good of the nation from the moment he took office in 2009.
            “They met on the night that he was sworn-in, and took a blood oath to each other that they would be obstacles to [Obama’s] administration,” Clyburn maintained. “And they set out to do so in a way that demonstrates the ultimate in disloyalty to the country.”
“Every attempt by President Obama has made to “light a candle” to help show the way for progress, for opportunity, for bringing us out of the darkness of the great recession that we just experienced, he had seen those candles, those flames blown out time and time again by these Republicans,” Clyburn charged. “And then they have stood on the sidelines cursing the darkness.”
Rep. Clyburn said the Republican “trickle-down economics,” as first pushed by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, didn’t work. The massive Bush tax cuts of the last decade have ballooned the national deficit because they weren’t paid for.
And the economic crash and loss of over 2 million jobs during the final months of President George W. Bush’s administration, crippled America.
            “We were teetering on the brink of [economic] disaster,” when Pres. Obama first came in, Clyburn insists. “That is what greeted this president.”
            The South Carolina Democrat credits Obama’s quick work to shore up the economy, pumping in tens of billions in stimulus, and saving the auto industry from bankruptcy. But Clyburn also recalls how Republicans in Congress refused to work with the president to shore up job growth, even before the Tea Party took over Congress in 2010.
            “ The loyal opposition has been anything but loyal,” Rep. Clyburn said. “We expect for them to be in opposition to [Obama’s] policies, but we would hope that they would be loyal to the country. They have made it very clear, that the only reason for their existence... their number one reason…is to make sure that Barack Obama is a one-term president.”
            “What kind of loyalty to the country is…the number one priority for every elected official, especially those sitting up here in Washington, should be to protect the American people; to secure the futures for the American people; to maintain safety in our communities, and to keep moving our country forward. When you tell me all of that should take a backseat to unseating a president, then I think it tells the public all they need to know about your priorities.
            “Why?” the number three man in House Democratic leadership asked rhetorically.
            Race, according to Clyburn, is certainly a big part of it.
            “There has been a theory put forth in this country, from its inception, that there are certain gene pools that are not as good as other gene pools, and by that I mean that some people are just inherently unequal,” Clyburn said. “[The theory says] there are some people who are just inherently inferior and not capable of doing certain things.”
            “When people see that this longstanding philosophy that [has been] perpetuated forever is getting a very, serious, in-your-face denigration of its own veracity or validity,
then they try to fight it off.”
             “No African-American is supposed to have the capacity, least more the capability, of being president of the United States,” Rep. Clyburn continued. “There are people who actually feel that way.”
            Clyburn made clear that he “strongly disbelieved” that that was the view of the majority of white Americans. “But there is a big minority of white voters who are absolutely upset that an African-American is president of the United States,” he said.
            Propagating the falsehood that Pres. Obama is a Muslim, know that doing so in a Judeo-Christian culture enflames hatred, in addition to questioning his citizenship and patriotism, are also tools used to “other” the president in the eyes of white voters, Rep. Clyburn says.
            Pundits like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews have echoed that charge directly to the face of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who has vigorously denied that Republicans, and specifically the presidential campaign of former Governor Mitt Romney, are “playing the race card.”
            And yet during the RNC Convention, which once again noticeably lacked a large number of black delegates, a black CNN camerawoman was reported taunted by two white RNC attendees who threw peanuts at her saying, “This is how we feed the animals.”
            The Republican racial image also wasn’t helped when GOP House Speaker John Boehner told reporters at the RNC Convention that while, according to polls, African-Americans probably won’t vote for Mitt Romney (an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll reported that zero percent of black supported Romney), “…I’d suggest to you they won’t show up and vote for the president either.”
            Rep. Clyburn says that’s the intent of the GOP ploy in several states to make casting a ballot in November harder for voters of color because of new voter photo identification laws.
            “We can dress it up anyway we want to; we can talk about it anyway we want to, but you know the good Lord has allowed me to live long enough - I’m 72 years old - to…call it as I see it,” Rep. Clyburn said of why the Republicans have vigorously opposed the president.
“That’s what the fact is.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Newly-formed National Council of Elders

National Council of Elders Formed
By Cash Michaels
Special to the NNPA News Service from
Wilmington Journal

GREENSBORO, N.C. (NNPA) – They come from all walks of the civil and human rights struggle, each a distinguished leader with a long record of advocacy, molded in courage, and sacrifice.         Ministers, activists, poets, former elected officials, retired military, disciples of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and even the former U.S. ambassador to South Africa, among others.
But last week, these leaders – some in their 60s, 70s, and even a few at age 80 and beyond – came together from across the nation in what they called “an historic gathering” at NC A&T University, to be reborn in a collective purpose, amid the legacy of the 1960 lunch counter sit-in movement that inspired the world, and still inspires them all.
They are now the “National Council of Elders,” and by their own definition the entity is ”…a newly organized, independent group of leaders from many of the defining American social justice movements of the 20th century, committed to educating and mentoring future leaders who will join, and lead democratizing movements in the 21st century.”
In effect, the Council – seeing a nation that 40 and 50 years ago they fought mightily to ensure would care for the poor, educate its youth, and protect the rights of communities of color – is reengaging in those struggles on a collective level because they see the social progress that they and other leaders like Dr. King, Jr. had achieved, being eroded slowly but surely.
Indeed, during their lively three-day conference discussions at NC A&T, some of the Elders had expressed concern that even if President Barack Obama was re-reelected this fall, the forces of negative change that have governed the nation’s economic and social structures in recent years have amassed a great deal of momentum.
Momentum the president, some Elders say, can’t battle alone.
The Council hopes that by coming together now, and bringing to fore, respectively, hundreds of years of collective experience in civil, human, environmental, anti-war, labor, women’s economic, immigrant and gay-lesbian rights advocacy, they can join with young leadership like the Occupy Movement, and develop strategies, based on direct non-violence advocacy, to make America more responsive to the needs of its people, rather than the machinations of the powerful.
The Elders see their role today in so many facets:  mentorship; empowerment; giving, yes, but also getting from youth leaders.
Telling the true, unvarnished story of how they, in their youth a half century ago, ushered in an era of true social change. The Elders see themselves sharing their respective wisdom, experience and knowledge with young leaders, while at the same time preserving the tradition of civil rights movement.
In short, properly equipping today’s young leadership with the historic and relevant perspective to lead, and thus, be further empowered.
“If you have your own voice, you can create your own weather,” says Bernice Johnson Reagon, leader of the famed a cappella freedom singing group, “Sweet Honey in the Rock.”
The phrase, “tall order,” doesn’t even begin to define the massive challenge this league of older diverse leaders face. But a closer look at who they are, the obstacles they once faced, and the causes they frequently fought for, and in some respects are still fighting for, suggests that facing long odds and towering circumstances is nothing new for this veteran bunch.
Rev. James Lawson and his brother, Rev. Phillip Lawson, both of whom, along with retired educator Vincent Harding, founded the Council, have a deep civil rights resume.
Strong leaders in their own right, all three worked closely with Dr. King and others in the movement at various times, strategizing and teaching youth leaders with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 60s how to confront racism in the South, using the philosophy and practice of peaceful direct action.
Other Elders include Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, to advocate for immigrant labor rights; and Rev. Mel White, who has long fought for equal rights in the gay and lesbian community.
The birthplace of the National Council of Elders is no accident.
Greensboro is seen throughout the civil rights community and the world as one of the meccas of the movement, where in February of 1960, four courageous NC A&T University students, went to the downtown F. W. Woolworth store, sat down at the all-White lunch counter, and peacefully, but firmly, demanded to be served.
It was a direct challenge to southern segregation laws, and it ignited a nationwide youth movement that saw the birth of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Raleigh, and young leaders like Rev. Charles Sherrod, who with his wife, Shirley Sherrod, who was fired from her job at the Department of Agriculture two years ago after she was falsely labeled as a racist by the Tea Party, attended the council conference. She was offered reinstatement, but rejected it.
When the Elders held their first press conference last week to announce their formation, it was on A&T’s campus, directly under the towering statue of the Greensboro Four.
“I am here, representing a group of people who have come to Greensboro to work on, develop and shape the beginning of a new organization, which in many ways is an historic organization, because it is the first time in this country that people from movements of all kinds, have come together, in many cases after 40, 60 years of organizing for the creation of a more perfect union,” Harding told the media,
They also came, from all across the nation, because of the work of Rev. Nelson Johnson and his wife, Joyce.
Longtime veterans of the movement for justice in Greensboro, the Johnsons have been leading from their college years where they respectively led movements for equality, to Rev. Johnson’s involvement in the November 1979 Greensboro massacre where Klansmen and Nazis killed several demonstrators, to the Beloved Community Center the couple manages today.
The respect that many have for the Johnsons’ great work in Greensboro, made this city of civil rights history the perfect place for the Council to be born, they say. It is by no accident that the National Council of Elders rejects the idea of “passing the torch.” That would suggest they have relinquished their roles in the human rights struggle.
Instead, they proclaim that they are, “merging the light and heat of the torches [they] carried in the 20th century with the light and heat of the torches” now carried by the young leaders of the 21st century, to inspire them to boldly move forward towards what Dr. Martin Luther King called a beloved community.

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Friday, August 3, 2012


                                  CONNIE TINDALL
Young Connie Tindall was an all-star high school football champion in Wilmington who dreamed of growing up to play Sunday afternoons in the NFL one day. At age 20, Tindall had the skill, the talent and the ambition. All he needed was the chance to prove himself.
But the Wilmington Ten episode changed all of that.
Tindall, whose father was a longshoreman, was looking for work while still attending school. The unjust way he saw black students being treated in the New Hanover county Public School System after it closed all-black Williston High in 1968, compelled Tindall to get involved with the movement for educational equality 1971.
It wasn’t long before Connie became a fiery spokesman for the black student cause headquartered at Gregory Congregational United Church of Christ, located in Wilmington’s black community.
Tindall shaped the black student message, and became their face in the media. Even after UCC Rev. Benjamin Chavis took over leadership in February 1971, Tindall continued to help lead and speak out amid the building racial tensions that saw violence in the streets, and police reluctance to do anything about it.
Apparently the authorities made note of Tindall, however, because a year after the firebombing of Mike’s Grocery near Gregory Church, Tindall was yanked out of bed late at night in his parents’ home, arrested and charged with conspiracy in connection with the grocery store incident.
“We have a warrant for your son’s arrest,” Tindall recalls the police telling his shocked parents, remembering how they had the house surrounded.
The young man was taken from the house to the street, and handcuffed, as his bewildered parents watch.
Tindall knew the arrest and charges were bogus, because on the night of the fire, he was across town in a club called the Ponderosa, celebrating his birthday with several friends.
Tindall admits that before the Wilmington Ten episode, he had a “few scraps” with the law - things that teenagers normally got in trouble for. But nothing of the magnitude of what he was being charged with now - conspiracy in connection with the firebombing and the sniper fire aimed at firefighters.

When the first trial in June 1972 was cut short and declared a mistrial, Tindall says there was no question in his mind that he and the other members of the Wilmington Ten would be hung out to dry. There were ten blacks and two whites on the first jury. When the case began again on Sept. 11, 1972, the new jury was now ten whites and two blacks.
Tindall said the prosecutor, Jay Stroud, was “deranged,” especially in how he “wined and dined” witnesses like Allen Hall to lie on the stand.
Tindall’s family attended the trial, distraught at what they were seeing. But they also supportive of their son, telling him, “We believe in you.”
Tindall was convicted and sentenced to 31 years in prison.
It hit him and his family hard, he says, but they remained supportive during his incarceration.
“Prison was just another way of life,” he recalls. “Same things went on in the streets, went on there.”
Tindall kept the faith that even if it took ten or twenty years, the truth would come out. He said that the whole ordeal was meant to destroy him, but he refused to allow that to happen, and held his head up high.
His family came to see him often in prison, and encouraged Tindall to stay strong.
When Tindall finally left prison on early release after almost five years, his return to Wilmington was met with no job (or least no job he could keep past one week).
Fortunately, because Tindall’s father is a longshoreman, he’s able to work with him.
But beyond that, some people in the community continued to shun Tindall, black people, and he admits that it hurt. It took several years before living in Wilmington became “bearable,” primarily because many believed that he was guilty.
Tindall’s future prospects for personal success were dim as long as he stayed in Wilmington. He says had the Wilmington Ten never happened, he “would have been a beast” as an NFL defensive back.
Tindall refused to leave Wilmington, despite the difficulty and heartache, because the port city was his home.
In recent years, Tindall has faced health challenges, but he continues to strive toward the day that Gov. Perdue declares he and the other nine members of the Wilmington Ten receive pardons of actual innocence.
Tindall still harbors some anger for how his life was ruined, how his dreams were destroyed, all because of a false persecution, and prosecution by the state of North Carolina.
“If you want to do something for me, then pay me for those 4 ½ to five years I sat up in that penitentiary for nothing,” he demands. “Vindicate me.”
Tindall concluded by asking, “Why us?”
On Friday, August 3, 2012, Connie Tindall, who had recently been to the hospital for minor surgery, developed complications, and reportedly died on his was back to the hospital.
"Long live the spirit and memory of Connie Tindall," said Rev. Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, leader of the Wilmington Ten. "God bless the Tindall family. RIP Connie."
We will miss him.
          In memory of Connie Tindall, Anne Shepard, Jerry Jacobs and Joe Wright, please click on the link below to our Change.Org petition page that asks NC Gov. Beverly Perdue to grant pardons of innocence to all of the Wilmington Ten.

                                   |Start an Online Petition

        Thank you



[This story originally published in The Carolinian Newspaper July 26, 2012]

                                  POGO JOE CALDWELL                        


by Cash Michaels

  He’s a five-time NBA/ABA all-star, having played for the Carolina Cougars in the early 1970’s, scoring at will, and giving “Dr. J” Julius Erving fits on defense every time they faced off.
            He is also one of the most coveted hoop stars in Arizona State University Sun Devils history, the former 6’5” guard/forward having his #32 jersey retired to the rafters there in 2010.
            But the honor that “Pogo” Joe Caldwell displays with the greatest pride from his extraordinary career in collegiate and professional basketball is the gold medal he brought home from the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

            So he knows, firsthand, how the US Olympic men’s basketball team, in addition to all of the other American athletes, feel as the Games of the XXX Olympiad get underway in London, England.
            Caldwell, 71 and residing in Arizona, says even for the professional basketball players there, there is a tremendous sense of pride and honor in knowing that you are representing your country on the giant world stage, and that you are competing against the best athletes in the world.
            After standing on the Olympic stage in Tokyo with his teammates, receiving the gold medal around his neck, Pogo Joe says after their victory, there was no feeling like it.
            “As young men, all we wanted to do was win the gold,” he says.
            And yes, in case you were wondering, Caldwell’s Olympic gold medal is indeed solid gold.
            Having grown up a poor black boy in Texas city, Texas, Joseph Louis Caldwell, nicknamed “Pogo Joe” because of his tremendous ability to leap so high off the ground, was now part of a proud legacy of US Olympic champions in 1964. So much so that his mother kept his gold medal with pride until she died, and his father, who was always tough with Joe, even had to admit that his son achieved something he never dreamed of.
            Especially after Joe went to the White House, and shook hands with another Texas native, President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
            “Everybody’s got to be on the same page,” Caldwell says now regarding the current US Olympics men team, featuring NBA stars Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Kevin Durant; and coached, once again by Duke University’s Mike Krzyzewski.
            Pogo Joe says when, at age 23, he was chosen the first of the final 12 from a list of 100 great college basketball players like Willis Reed and Cazzie Russell, to play for the United States, “There was simply no feeling like it.”
            Caldwell’s team then was significant because it was one of the last to feature primarily college stars, in contrast to the NBA-dominated “Dream Team” US Olympic men’s basketball teams that have been in vogue since 1992, featuring superstar future Hall of Famers like North Carolina native Michael Jordan, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird.
            Caldwell’s 1964 US Olympic team, which it had no pro players (that wouldn’t be allowed to until a 1989 change of international rules), didn’t do too badly in the future NBA superstar category either. UNC Tar Heel player Larry Brown was a top scorer; as was future NY Knicks star Bill Bradley; Duke University’s Jeff Mullins; and UCLA’s Walt Hazzard.
            “We were the originally Dream Team,” he says.
            They won all nine of their Olympic contests in Tokyo convincingly, finishing off top favorite (and USA arch-enemy) the now defunct Soviet Union, 73-59.
            So important was the Olympic victory over the Soviets during what was the “Cold War” period in US-Soviet relations, that military personnel held the victory as a great symbol of pride to them.
            Historically, it was the US Olympic men’s basketball team’s sixth straight Olympic gold medal, and their 46th straight win.

            Caldwell would be drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1964 after he brought the gold home from Tokyo. He would later play for the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks, and then make history by being one of the first NBA players to leave to play for the fledgling ABA, signing one of the first big contracts ever in 1970 with the Carolina Cougars, which played in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. Caldwell and his family lived in Greensboro from 1970 -74.
            It was only after the Cougars moved to St. Louis, and changed it name, was Caldwell “indefinitely” suspended in a contract dispute that ultimately forced him out of the game that he loved.
            But despite all of the hardship of his professional basketball days, the heartwarming glory of Caldwell’s Olympic gold medal days are what still put a bright, prideful smile on his face.
            Sometimes he’ll just take the mark of singular history, put it around his neck, and visit a restaurant or Sun Devils game. People immediately recognize their native son, and greet Caldwell with hearty handshakes, and heartfelt hugs.
            Pogo Joe’s triumphant college basketball career made him a living legend in Arizona.
            But his Olympic gold medal made the living legend a champion of history, something Caldwell says he’ll cherish the rest of his life.