Bernie Sanders held a rally at Bennett College yesterday. But he didn’t come alone. Sanders brought “National Campaign Co-Chairs Sen. Nina Turner and Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry’s), and national surrogates rapper Killer Mike, activist Phillip Agnew, actor Danny Glover, and professors Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Adolph Reed.” The 800 seat capacity Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel was full beyond capacity. I stood with many others in the back of the chapel.
Universal African American History At WSFC Schools And The City Council’s African American Heritage Action Initiative Is A Step Forward
After several months of sustained activism (passing out flyers, hosting public events and attending long school board meetings) Hate Out of Winston, a local activist group that came together during Winston’s Confederate statue controversy has succeeded in getting WSFC Schools to consider universal African American history classes in the fall. (Mandatory sounds so negative, learning African American history is a positive for WS/FCS students regardless of the color of their skin. That’s why I’m using the term universal instead of mandatory.)
Earlier today, Triad City Beat reported that “that the curriculum committee of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board will consider adding a mandatory African-American studies class to the high school curriculum at its October meeting.” Jordan Green’s article noted that several local Black politicians are publicly supporting universal African American history classes. Student Minister Effrainguan Muhammad told Green that the “Winston-Salem Local Organizing Committee has been asking for a mandatory African-American studies course for the past three years” only to get the runaround from the WSFC School Board.
Winston-Salem’s Rebel Statue Wranglings; Time To Move The Statue Or Put A Plaque Up Denouncing Jim Crow
The Winston-Salem Journal has reported that an attorney for the United Daughters of the Confederacy has asked the City of Winston-Salem to delay its plans to move the Confederate statue that stands at Fourth and Liberty:
The United Daughters of the Confederacy is asking Winston-Salem for a 60-day delay in filing any legal action to force removal of the Confederate statue at the corner of Fourth and Liberty streets on the grounds of the former Forsyth County Courthouse. James Davis, attorney for the UDC’s North Carolina Division, told City Attorney Angela Carmon in a letter dated Jan. 25 that there are questions about the ownership of the statue and whether allegations that the statue is a public or private nuisance are legally valid. -Confederate statue backers (who may or may not own it) ask city to hold off on forcing a move for the memorial, Wesley Young Winston-Salem Journal
If the UDC succeeds in delaying Mayor Joines’ plan to move the Confederate statue from Downtown Winston to Salem Cemetary, it’s time for Joines to implement his backup plan. On January 1, Joines made headlines by stating the City’s intention to move the rebel statue at Fourth and Liberty to Salem Cemetary.
Last Monday the Ministers’ Conference and local NAACP led a procession of supporters from the convention center, through Downtown Winston, through the former Pond neighborhood, concluding at Union Baptist Church. The presence of majority African American marchers going through downtown reminded me of how African Americans have been systematically pushed out of Downtown Winston over several decades. As the rhythms of Carver’s Marching Band reverberated through Trade Street, I couldn’t help thinking about all the property that was taken from African Americans, the many decades’ long process of the gentrifying Downtown Winston. An excerpt from Winston-Salem’s African-American Neighborhoods, 1870-1950:
The Pond was a former African American neighborhood razed decades ago. That area of North Trade Street is now referred to as “Industry Hill” for marketing purposes.
Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry delivered Winston’s 39th Annual MLK Noon Hour Commemoration address on Monday. The Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University didn’t disappoint the packed audience at Union Baptist (including Mayor Joines and three rows of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County politicians, seated front and center). Harris-Perry is something of a public intellectual, widely known to the general public due to the popularity of The Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC (2012-2016). MHP is an author, an editor at the Nation, and Elle.com. But, Harris-Perry seldom speaks in Winston, outside of the campus of Wake Forest University.
On a cold, wet winter’s day opponents and proponents of the Confederate statue at 50 West Fourth Street gathered on opposite sides of Fourth Street in dueling protests. At the base of the Confederate statue, a modest, all-white group of approximately 20 gathered. They came to Winston to oppose Winston-Salem Alliance President and W-S Mayor, Allen Joines’ plan to move Winston’s Confederate statue to Salem Cemetery. Across the street, at One West Fourth Street, a much more substantial and diverse crowd gathered to denounce the racially and historically challenged supporters of the Confederacy. A social media post two weeks ago alerted the Left in Winston that some unsavory, Confederate-loving rabble were coming to Winston.
Christmas came a day early for everyone in Winston that resents the presence of a Confederate statue in front of the old courthouse. Yesterday, some merry prankster with a purpose wrote the words “COWARDS & TRAITORS” on the Confederate statue that has stood tall at Liberty and Fourth for many years, projecting hate. Earlier in the week I was bemoaning Winston’s inaction, our nonchalance toward Johnny Rebel* when activists in Durham and Chapel Hill (two other college towns) took down their Confederate statues in August 2017 and August 2018 respectively. I’ve been impressed with activists in Chapel Hill, the work they’ve done to keep Silent Sam from returning to UNC. By contrast, Winston has been silent.
The weather couldn’t have been better Saturday. It was a gorgeous afternoon to be in Downtown Winston for Pride Winston-Salem 2018. Pride Winston-Salem is an affirmation of individuality. It’s a time when the LGBTQ community takes to the streets of Downtown Winston, joined by straight allies. I’m a big fan of Pride Winston-Salem, but I hate to see the festival get more commercial and corporate each year.
Tuesday night’s WS/FCS Board meeting was another spirited affair. Supporters of R.J. Reynolds’ Home Field Advantage probably got more pushback from Save Hanes Park activists than they expected. But in the end, the school board voted unanimously to approve HFA’s plans for a new football stadium at Wiley Middle School. Save Hanes Park supporters are definitely on the right side of history. Reynolds’ proposed new football stadium* is the wrong project, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Noon – The Public Assembly Facilities Commission will meet at the Benton Convention Center. 3:00 p.m. – The Outstanding Women Leaders Program Committee will hold its monthly meeting in the City Manager’s Conference Room at City Hall. 7:00 p.m. -City Council Meeting, in the Council Chamber, City Hall, Room 230. Tuesday, 9/18/2018:
4:00 p.m. – The Minority and Women Business Enterprise Citizen Advisory Committee will hold its monthly meeting in the Public Works Conference Room, City Hall, Room 348. Wednesday, 9/19/2018:
2:00 p.m. – Forsyth County Commissioners meeting at the Forsyth County Government Center.
FLOC (Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO) and its allies brought a sizable contingent of supporters down from Toledo, Ohio to North Carolina this week. The purpose of their North Carolina tour was to explore the intersections between Black and Brown struggles for justice. The Black/Brown Unity Coalition’s first stop was Greensboro on Thursday. The Black/Brown Unity Coalition visited the International Civil Rights Center in the morning. Later in the day, they came to the Beloved Community Center for food and fellowship. After the getting steeped in the history of the Civil Rights movement, the group journeyed to the tobacco fields of Eastern North Carolina Friday to witness the harsh and often inhumane conditions that tobacco workers endure.