New Hampshire Primary and a “New” Voter Dynamic?

Tonight, the New Hampshire primary caucus turned out at a record breaking pace. There were no real surprises other than Jeb Bush has “found” himself, as they say and Trump wins by a lot and so does Sanders. I just left a Democratic Party board meeting. Tonight was a much different night than in the past. You could tell how palpable the national elections by the interest locally. The information being disseminated and talked about at the party meeting was powerful. Those in attendance didn’t just sit there and be lectured to, instead, they were raising questions and helping shape the conversation.

With so much at stake in America- talk radio, TV, blogs and social media, are taking this election cycle and spinning it on its numbers. Who would have ever thought that a professed socialist would soar past an “establishment” candidate and that momentum keep going. Who would have ever thought that a real estate mogul would lead the Republican Party path toward the White House. It is mind boggling to consider the impact of a frustrated voter. Will there be any tempering of the Trumps or the Sanders as they forge forward? What does all of this mean when America, in droves, vote their frustration? America was built on a foundation that we all thought was immovable. Yet, it feels at times that states shake all at once. Everything seems to be challenged and at play are scenarios none of us, in our lifetimes would have dreamed.

I can tell you there is a real concern about who will commit to the interest of the African American community.  Looking at the candidate pool raises very difficult and painful questions. Will there be a rush to bring calm to the tens of thousands of “frustrated” Americans that don’t look like us? Is America creating a new voter dynamic that will push the needs of the African American community off the agenda all together? Who will have the will to tackle our issues? Public policy must reflect the needs of all citizens. As an African American female living in an economically distressed community, there is a heightened level of uncertainty. Yet, as a believer, there is tremendous comfort. Now is not the time for us to shrink back. Now is the time for us to knock on doors, make phone calls and use social media to do our bidding. We must commit to the seriousness of this election and VOTE.



Congratulations Cam Newton – MVP… Ron Rivera Coach of the Year

Just when I thought my day was coming to an end an alert delivers some amazing news. With blogs pointing at Cam in less than favorable ways, I had to send some love his way in an article “Cam Newton…I Wonder?”  The article raised a larger question. It wondered why such an athlete with Cam’s credentials, was being portrayed in ways that narrowed his persona. Well Cam, there is no wondering. I never wondered. Welcome to the “bestest” club! Your critics will become some  of your most beloved supporters. You are indeed a master of the game. Keep passing and setting your bar higher for kids who are in search of their own dreams. You are a reflection of what they can become. Keep your aspirations in the stratosphere and for sure you’ll live there for a very long time.

Thanks for reminding everyone about how you do what you do and how you got to be MVP and play in the most sort after game on the planet!  “I’m very proud,” Newton said. “We didn’t get in this position by happenstance. It took years of hard work and dedication.” Now it’s countdown to Superbowl 50- get past them- you can do it- score big!

Coach Rivera- I’m sure you are proud of Cam and the full roster of your Panther family. Tomorrow will once again be your witness. Hard work and sacrifice with enormous talent, produces a better than ever imagined harvest. On behalf of northeastern, NC – congratulations and just know the SUPER 50 PARTY is on tap at my momma’s house at 4:00 pm! C’mon … bring “Vince” on home!


Three Judges Rule… Two Congressional Voting Maps Invalidated in NC

Voting rights and race have always mattered. Just a few hours ago, breaking news reported that three federal judges ruled Congressional District 1, led by Congressman GK Butterfield, and Congressional District 12, led by Representative Alma Adams, were gerrymandered along racial lines and ordered them redrawn in two weeks. The decision by the three-judge panel will have an enormous impact on the upcoming primaries in North Carolina. With so much at stake, the Republican Party, as reported, will challenge the judges’ ruling.

Everyday citizens looking in on the process find the set of events of the past hours confusing and unsettling. With majority minority communities already skeptical and distrustful of the electoral process, the three-judge findings exacerbate mistrust. From a “corner store” point of view in rural Northeastern, NC, US District Judge Max Cogburn states it best. “Elections should be decided through a contest of issues, not skillful mapmaking,” U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn wrote in a concurring opinion. “Today, modern computer mapping allows for gerrymandering on steroids, as political mapmakers can easily identify individual registrations on a house-by-house basis, mapping their way to victory.”


Convincing northeast communities to exercise their right to vote will be an even tougher sell. How do we defeat apathy and the already-held belief that their votes don’t matter?  Structuring the way votes are delivered is as important as being given the right to vote. To consider the right to vote without challenging maps and drawings and how groups of counties and communities are clustered falls short of the promise of a fair and just democracy. Our political participation in the northeast rests on advocacy and our ability to sell trust even though challenging voter dilution in the courts is not new.

According to an article written by Katharine Butler of the Louisiana Law Review entitled Constitutional and Statutory Challenges to Election Structures: Dilution and the Value of the Right to Vote, she makes the following case, “…Access to the ballot does not always provide meaningful political participation for blacks.” She continued, “The right to vote is meaningful when a voter can join his vote with those of like-minded others in the pursuit of common goals. Properly conceived, the dilution plaintiffs’ claim is that the election structure when superimposed upon racially oriented politics produces a situation that deprives them of the benefit of their numbers in the political process. They are thus deprived of the value of voting.” Her article “responds to the Supreme Court’s treatment of minority entitlement and the right to vote in the dilution situation.”

The voting rights act of 1965 was critical to sustaining the integrity of the voting process. It gave trust a chance. When SCOTUS struck down section 4 of Section 5, a key provision of the Voting Rights Act (presupposing that we were a “post–racial” nation with many citing the evidence of the country’s first African American President) states, such as North Carolina that had to have preclearance before changing voting districts, were allowed to redraw without oversight.

So, now we face the fruit of striking down a key protection that counties and communities in the northeast really need.

As we wait to see how the General Assembly responds to the judge’s ruling for them to redraw lines in two weeks, here’s a reminder…your vote matters. You can weigh in and voice your support for alternative redistricting processes that all people can believe in. It’s time to do away with costly legal challenges and simply allow for “real” choices.  Here is a statement made by Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina. “For years, partisan gerrymandering has led to costly litigation and deprived North Carolina voters of having a real choice and a voice in our elections…Fortunately, a growing number of citizens and leaders across the political spectrum agree that North Carolina should adopt an independent redistricting process.”



Cam Newton…I Wonder?

PDFFor days now I have endured a smorgasbord of outlets reporting negatively on Cam Newton, a young African American quarterback for the Carolina Panthers who works hard and competes even harder, leading his team to Super Bowl 50. Imagine that. Here we have a young, 26-year-old African American male living his dream-navigating the politics of first the collegiate culture, and then the professional football culture to emerge as a highly competitive, spirited, strategic super threat of an athlete; one of the best on the planet. And, instead of him being celebrated for his accomplishments, critics speak of Cam Newton in ways that are perplexing and less than complimentary. Meanwhile, invisible young black boys are watching, listening and wondering.

These comments are being made while school systems and systems of incarceration in North Carolina and across the nation struggle to keep young black males in school and out of jail. We preach to them about dreaming big and living the American dream. We inspire them with stories of courage and endurance… of hard work and sacrifice. At the same time, they hear us throw disparaging remarks at a young man trying to learn his way in a highly competitive world where millions of dollars are in play. The pressure to be a super performer is palpable – have you seen his super hero commercials? It is almost more than a 26-year-old can carry.

He needs a full community of supporters across lines of race and culture and ethnicity to help. Whoever said words don’t hurt and don’t have power? That is wrong, very wrong. In fact, the truth about words is that they have a strong creative power. Words can create. Words to young children can change lives. Millions of dollars are being spent on low wealth schools (average of about $1500 per child locally) and after school programs (some say nationwide up to 1.2. billion) with hopes that teachers and mentors and community leaders will speak words of encouragement and inspire greatness.

There is no doubt that we are losing our African American males to a life of incarceration and ultimately poverty. According to the Census Bureau American Community Survey, the poverty rate for all African Americans in 2012 was 28.1%. Black families with children under 18 headed by a single mother had the highest rate of poverty at 47.5. In addition, the Criminal Justice Fact Sheet: Racial Disparities in Incarceration reports that:
• African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population
• African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites
• Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population
• One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime
• Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).

Yes. I would say the statistics above move beyond Langston Hughes dreams deferred. It is in fact, my retitlement- the death of dreamers and their dreams. So then, how do we reconcile the temperament adults cast toward this young man? How do we explain to a cadre of young black boys a justifiable cause for acts of continual chastisement when, to them, they see greatness? They see miracles and the “dare to believe the unbelievable” preached about in Sunday School and pulpits? Here we have an opportunity to exchange a few things. Would you not agree that taking issue with Cam Newton’s end zone demeanor that is fueled by his youth and love of the game, pales in comparison to a much larger presence he makes?

I wonder what Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music, had in mind when they commissioned Pharrell Williams to write a theme song for the movie Despicable Me and he titled it “Happy”. Could it be that this generation, super athletes included, interprets the world differently from the protocols and practices “we” see as befitting of a representative of the super star class? Could it be that Cam’s “happy” dance propels and energizes him after running and passing and yes, then celebrating in the end zone, and igniting young fans by giving them the football?

Imagine that! He hands over a football that will transform a child forever and, even with this, he is scolded as being “fake”, unreal and anything but genuine. Could it be that Cam Newton simply wants to have fun and enjoy what his athletic gifts have afforded him? Isn’t this what we have forgotten to do in pursuit of our dreams… have fun?

Cam Newton, I’m so very, very proud of you! Here’s to an amazing kickoff-just do what you do and make us proud!

County Impact is “Back Online”

County Impact is back online! It has been over a year since post have been made consistently to County Impact. During that time I’ve been fully engaged in the community working alongside people, ideas and paradigms that shape and reshape conversations on poverty. Conversations on poverty and its impact upon regions of states and communities across the nation is of specific interest. The daughter and grand-daughter of tenant farmers, issues of poverty have impacted the call to be an effective voice over an entire lifetime. The desire to be a meaningful contributor committed to preventing, eliminating and eradicating poverty, has never waned.

Over the past several months, there is meaningful work being conceptualized by caring community leaders who have committed to a year of discovery. The pathway forward is not an easy one. It is bolted by frames of work that have measured the poor by personal effort mainly and not by tightly woven public policies that prohibit the poor from “really” helping themselves.

An even smaller poverty team has convened out of the larger group to “unmine” potential. Being queried is what it will take to remove the poor from roles of lack and into pathways of a lot more abundance. The belief that a frail economic based people can demand legislation that favors their needs is ill-placed. They can at best, pray and vote and pray and vote and pray and vote with hopes that the prayer they pray and the vote they cast will not return void.

In the days, weeks and months ahead, I look forward to the many conversations we will have around poverty and its elimination, prevention and eradication. There is an answer to the tremendous needs our community face – and that answer lies in each of us. We have to KEEP THE FAITH until we find answers!
Keeping the Faith…

Founder, County Impact

Citizen Engagement Begins With Serving on Boards Committees and Commissions


Citizens have a responsibility to be intentional about serving. Serving your community is civic basics. Communities must express, not only in dialogue only, but in leadership mostly, the complexion of the communities they serve. Boards, committees and commissions provides every citizen the opportunity to be considered for service. However, if your choice is to allow the direction of your community to be entrusted to and in the hands of others, then you relinquish the most powerful role of being a member of your community- the role of meaningful participant.

If you are interested in serving, do not allow an application form to intimidate and move you from interest t0 “no way”. Instead, call a family, friend, neighbor or co worker and ask for help. Better yet, try calling a young nimble-minded, technologically savvy social media buff, and get them in on the journey with you. They will not only be able to help you negotiate the application process, but can become a young person you in turn mentor, coach and guide into service as well.

So, go on… click on the link above and get at it. Remember, your elected representative can help as well. Inform them of your interest and take things from there. They can recommend you, as well as get you the help you need filling out the application.

Here’s to your service to the community you live in – making it the best because of it!