50 years after the dream

50 Years After the Dream panel addresses UNC campus racism issues

The Campus Y and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. hosted 50 Years After the Dream, a panel on race and the justice system, to discuss the racial issues still affecting the country and college campuses today.

Harmonyx, an a capella group of the Black Student Movement, serenaded the audience to begin the event, which was part of the University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. week of celebration.

Alan McSurely, local civil rights attorney, opened up the panel with the story of the South’s discriminatory past and the popular grapes of wrath verses found in the Book of Jeremiah.

“Help the University to face up to its own liberal brand of racism,” McSurely said. “Study these tricks of the liberals and ask them to repent and be saved. I’m talking about Chancellor Folt on down now.”

Kalil Duncan, Phi Beta Sigma’s vice president of programs, said the panel was specifically chosen to include people who were knowledgeable about race but represented different backgrounds.

Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said she went to school for social justice because she saw the potential it had to fight racial discrimination. But she said she’s spent most of her time trying to reverse subconscious racial bias in the social justice world itself.

Irving Joyner, a law professor at N.C. Central University, said he respects the work of black movements on college campuses, but he’s upset the attention is limited to national holidays.

“You have had experiences of racial discrimination. And those of you who haven’t — wait until tomorrow,” Joyner said. “This movement cannot succeed without you. It will not succeed without you.”

Orisanmi Burton, an anthropology doctoral student, said the judicial system circulates its own ideas on the value of different races, and the police system is historically based on white supremacy.

“Police are here to protect and serve, but that begs the question — to protect and serve what?” Burton said. “To be black was either to be either a slave or to be a criminal.”

Burton said white privilege is a concept that some people are never going to be able to comprehend, and he said equal rights advocates should speak to the people who will hear it.

“I would argue today that the black man and black woman and brown man and brown woman are exiles in their land today,” Burton said.

This press clipping originally appeared under the title, Local civil rights experts address campus racism issues

Racial Justice Training Institute

Shriver Racial Justice Training Institute Applications Open

Don’t Miss the Call to Action!
Application Deadline: February 27, 2015!

With recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, and elsewhere, our nation is at a pivotal moment in understanding and addressing issues of race, implicit bias, and the structural barriers that marginalize communities of color. It is more important than ever for equal justice advocates to refocus their efforts to affirmatively advance racial equity.

Following the success of the inaugural 2014 Racial Justice Training Institute (which included SCSJ’s Anita Earls and Daryl Atkinson), the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law is pleased to announce the 2015 Racial Justice Training Institute. By placing the most up-to-date racial justice tools in the hands of front line advocates, the Institute provides real opportunities to address the impacts of structural racialization and ensure that race is front and center in our efforts to eradicate poverty in the communities we serve.

The Institute will cover a wide range of equity best practices ranging from traditional litigation and policy advocacy, to media and messaging, to the latest debiasing strategies. Working in teams, and with support from skilled faculty and facilitators, participants will use new racial justice knowledge and skills in their daily work and in the race-equity initiatives that teams will pursue throughout the Institute.

Taking place over six months (June—November 2015), the Institute includes three parts:
PART 1: Online (June 1—June 19, 2015)
PART 2: Onsite in Chicago (June 23-26, 2015)
PART 3: Online (July – November 2015)

Up to 35 advocates will be selected for the second Institute cohort based on a variety of factors, including experience, interest, goals, capacity, and racial and geographic diversity.

Note that we will only consider applicants that apply in teams and that include equal justice lawyers as part of those teams.

Learn more about the Racial Justice Training Institute

Application Deadline: February 27, 2015

The Racial Justice Training Institute is supported by the Ford and Annie E. Casey Foundations and Northwestern University School of Law.

marijuana cases

Durham police report offers irrelevant detail on local marijuana cases, ignores racial profiling

Most of the people arrested and charged only with misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2013 and the first half of 2014 had prior criminal records, a new report from the Durham Police Department says.

That said, it was much more common for police to stack a possession charge with other, sometimes more serious charges when they caught a person with some pot.

Other drug offenses — everything from paraphernalia possession to trafficking in heroin — are regular pairings with a misdemeanor marijuana charge.

Police commanders drafted the report to answer a query from City Manager Tom Bonfield, who wanted a closer look at why 86 percent of the department’s misdemeanor marijuana-possession arrests from Jan. 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014 were of blacks.

The document, available online at http://bit.ly/1ym8mpM, included maps showing that marijuana arrests were more common in east Durham and a scattered few areas in the northern and western part of the city.

East Durham is predominantly black, a fact that lends itself to the suspicion the department is engaging in racial profiling when it comes to marijuana enforcement.

But the eastern portion of the city also experiences a disproportionate share of the city’s most serious, “Part 1” crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor-vehicle theft.

The report looked at the actions of officers that preceded an arrest, finding that about 40 percent of the 739 pot-possession busts they made over 18 months were the result of “self-initiated” work of officers.

Another 12 percent followed a complaint by residents.

Of the “self-initiated” busts, 35 percent followed a vehicle stop. The department has acknowledged that officers stop more black motorists than whites.

Department analysts also focused on the pot-only arrests out of the 739, a subgroup of 191 cases that targeted 182 different people.

Of those, seven were arrested twice on pot-possession charge in the 18 months, and one person was arrested three times.

Criminal-background checks found that 143 of the 182 — about 79 percent — had been arrested at least once before being picked up on the marijuana charge.

Forty eight of the 143 were already convicted felons.

Collectively, the 143 had 908 previous arrests and 402 convictions.

“Put another way, nearly four in five persons charged with only misdemeanor marijuana possession had been arrested on average 6.35 times each before the marijuana offense,” the report said.

Department and city officials have spent much of the last year and a half dealing with racial-profiling allegations raised by groups like the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Fostering Alternatives to Drug Enforcement.

Fostering Alternatives — also known by the acronym FADE — advocates deprioritizing marijuana-law enforcement, on the grounds that a single possession charge can end up becoming a lifetime barrier to employment or housing.


human relations

Durham Hosts Human Relations Awards Ceremony February 20

Nominations Sought by January 26; Nomination Form Now Available Online

DURHAM, N.C. –The City of Durham Human Relations Commission is now seeking nominations of city and county residents who have distinguished themselves by contributing their time and talents to promoting good human relations in Durham.

In honor of February as Human Relations Month, the City’s Human Relations Commission and the Human Relations Division of the City’s Neighborhood Improvement Services Department are hosting the 2015 Human Relations Award Ceremony on Friday, February 20, 2015 at 6 p.m. in the Hayti Heritage Center, located at 804 Old Fayetteville Street, Durham.

At this ceremony, at least four Durham residents will be honored for improving human relations. The four award categories are as follows and nominations are due by 5 p.m. on Monday, January 26:

  • Carlie B. Sessoms Award ― the highest and most coveted award to an individual or organization that has made a major impact on improving human relations. This award commemorates contributions of the late Carlie B. Sessoms, a Durham native who served as chair of the Human Relations Commission and played a major role in improving human relations locally and nationally.
  • Housing Award ― recognizes an individual or organization for outstanding efforts in promoting fair housing with emphasis on the economic, social and/or political impact in the community that has encouraged diversity and housing opportunities for all.
  • Human Rights Award ― presented to a local, state or federal lawmaker who has successfully supported or promoted human rights causes and issues.
  • Human Rights Youth Award ― presented to an individual or group of individuals under the age of 18 for demonstrating an understanding of, and commitment to, human relations in Durham.

The event is free and open to the public with refreshments immediately following the conclusion of the program. To download the nomination guidelines and nomination form visit http://bit.ly/1DpH6b7.

For more information contact Delilah Donaldson, human relations manager for the City’s Neighborhood Improvement Services Department, at (919) 560-4107, ext. 34277 or by email at Delilah.Donaldson@DurhamNC.gov.

human relations

About the Human Relations Division in the City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services Department

The Neighborhood Improvement Services Department works to preserve and improve quality of life conditions for Durham residents, and to encourage active participation in neighborhood redevelopment and public policy and decision making dialogue. The department is responsible for enforcement of quality of life ordinances and state statutes including the City’s Minimum Housing Code; Nonresidential Code; Weedy Lot, Abandoned and Junk Vehicle ordinances; and the State of North Carolina’s Unsafe Building Statute. The department’s Human Relations Division strives to improve race and human relations in the City by working to eliminate housing discrimination and by prioritizing community outreach and educational activities to meet the needs of Durham’s residents. The Human Relations Division also provides oversight to the City of Durham Human Relations Commission, which is comprised of 15 Durham residents who meet monthly to work on activities designed to improve human relations and promote harmony throughout Durham. Guided by the City’s Strategic Plan, the department helps ensure that Durham has thriving, livable neighborhoods by providing the highest quality of services to engage and educate the community, eradicate blight, ensure safer neighborhoods, and enhance neighborhood revitalization. For more information, visit http://DurhamNC.gov/ich/cb/nis/Pages/Home.aspx.


immigrant kids

Communities reframe message to welcome immigrant kids

While the political uproar has died down over the flood of unaccompanied minors caught at the U.S. border, the states taking in the immigrant children continue to grapple with how to welcome – or not – the newcomers to their communities.

In North Carolina, one of the top 10 states to host immigrant kids as they await their immigration court proceedings, several urban communities are working to distance themselves from anti-immigrant messages seen in rural areas.

On Monday, the Durham City Council joined three other jurisdictions in adopting resolutions with language that explicitly welcomes undocumented immigrants, particularly the unaccompanied minors who continue to be placed to live in the state. Noting that nearly all of the young children swept up by Border Patrol agents said they were fleeing some of the most dangerous and violent countries in Central America, the resolution expresses a commitment to taking the children in and reaffirms their right to attend public schools in the area.

“Community members really came together and suggested to city officials that there was another way to frame the immigration debate,” said George Eppsteiner, staff attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and a supporter of the resolutions.

The decision to find a more inclusive approach toward the young immigrants comes after a number of rural regions in North Carolina sought to do just the opposite. In the months following political outrage over the years-long surge in children at the border, four counties entered the fray by calling on the federal government to “refrain from housing any unaccompanied minors and adults.”

Officials in these rural communities sounded alarms that the migrant kids would drain local resources for schools and health services. Though the resolutions did not outright restrict government services to the unaccompanied minors, pro-immigrant advocates raised their own concerns that the messaging in these rural areas would encourage school administrators to turn kids away based on their immigration status.

The competing language on whether to accept or turn away the young immigrant children follows a massive demographic shift over the course of the last 15 years. In 2000, Hispanics accounted for 4.7% of the population. By 2013, the Latino population comprised 9% of the state’s residents.

In many senses, the welcoming measures are largely symbolic. The children already have the right to attend school. By law, all public schools are required of enroll all students, regardless of their immigration status. But certain North Carolina schools districts have faced allegations of discrimination against undocumented immigrant students.

A coalition of civil rights groups in North Carolina in September urged the Department of Justice to include additional protections for the unaccompanied minors. The groups raised concerns that the state agency tasked with presenting enrollment guidelines to school districts told administrators false information: That under specific instances, districts were allowed to deny enrollment to certain schoolchildren. The guidelines were later retracted. Earlier in the year, the coalition also alleged that two school districts in the state improperly denied enrollment to two unaccompanied minors who sought to attend public high school.

The concerns are not isolated to North Carolina. On the national scale, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan teamed up last spring with Attorney General Eric Holder to strongly remind school administrators that they are not to request documents from immigrant students or their families with information pertaining to their immigration status.

This press clipping, “Communities reframe message to welcome immigrant kids,” originally appeared on msnbc.com on January 6, 2015.

Youth Justice

SCSJ announces partnership with Youth Justice North Carolina

SCSJ has always maintained a strong commitment to addressing issues of racial equity in education, eliminating racial bias in the criminal justice system, ending mass incarceration, and removing unjust barriers faced by persons with criminal records.  We are now excited to announce a new strategic partnership with Youth Justice North Carolina which will augment our existing programming with passionate advocacy on behalf of youth and their families, cutting edge tools and resources to end the school-to-prison pipeline and an expansion of our focus to feature juvenile justice and education justice issues. As of the first of this year, the two organizations are merging.

Youth Justice North Carolina is an organization of law and policy experts, practitioners, and advocates whose mission is to “ensure equity, fairness, and justice for North Carolina youth in high-quality education, juvenile, and criminal systems.”

For more information on this partnership, please visit http://bit.ly/1tO46bc.


Movement Supporting Immigrant Children Grows in Durham

The start to 2015 marked the continuation of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice’s efforts in empowering the immigrant community in North Carolina to protect the human and educational rights of their children.  On January 5, 2015, the Durham City Council unanimously passed a resolution that is welcoming and supportive of immigrant children, including those who travel alone to the United States to escape violence and extreme poverty.  The resolution’s strong language states that immigrant children are important members of the community, should be afforded legal representation at immigration proceedings (children are not guaranteed the right to an attorney in immigration proceedings), and have an absolute right to attend public schools, which is consistent with federal law and the United States Constitution.

The City of Durham is the largest jurisdiction in NC to pass a welcoming resolution for immigrant children.  Durham’s City Council became the fourth NC local government entity to pass a resolution after similar resolutions were passed by Carrboro’s Board of Alderman (11/18), the Orange County Board of Commissioners (12/1), and the Chapel Hill Town Council (12/3) in 2014.

George Eppsteiner, staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, was particularly encouraged by Durham’s passage of the resolution since Durham has the largest population of “unaccompanied children” than any other jurisdiction in North Carolina that has passed a positive or negative resolution regarding immigrant children.  The City of Durham, with its vibrant immigrant community, has made a statement supporting immigrant children and affirming their constitutional right to attend public schools in North Carolina.

Eppsteiner, on behalf of SCSJ, has worked with community organizations, including the NC Latino Coalition and the ACLU of NC, and community members to pass welcoming resolutions and was impressed with the community’s response in Durham.  “We were able to work with immigrant students, teachers, community leaders, and public officials to pass this resolution.  We had over forty people from the community come out to support the resolution on January 5th and it looks like momentum is growing elsewhere.”

SCSJ hopes to continue to work with communities in North Carolina to pass resolutions that are supportive and empowering of the immigrant community in 2015 and beyond.

lives matter

Black and Brown Lives Matter: March for Justice & Racial Unity

Date:    Tuesday,  December 23

Time:    12noon  (Press Conference 11:30am)

Begins: Ebenezer United Church of Christ

734 Apple St.  Burlington, NC

Concludes: First Christian United Church of Christ

415 S. Church St. Burlington, NC

Distance: 1.2 Miles


Join the marchers and lift up a voice asking for justice and equal protection under the law for all people.  Join the marchers and lift up a voice for racial unity and peace in our hometown.  Join the marchers and make a difference.


More details from Noah Read:


Local clergy and community groups will march in support of the national
movement to end racial disparities, focusing on our criminal justice system

Community members and coalition members of the local faith-based Partnerships to Empower People and the NAACP’s Alamance People’s Assembly will gather for a short press conference and a 1.25 mile march from Ebenezer Baptist Church to First Christian UCC in Burlington, NC.

We march in solidarity with those peaceful protesters across our nation calling for equal protection under the law. To further this goal, we support a commitment to the improvement and full enforcement of all laws prohibiting racial profiling, to the full investigation of all possible cases of excessive force in policing, and to the reversal of current trends in the militarization of local law enforcement.

We also march in support of all community members, especially members of law enforcement, who believe that the only way to avert future tragedies, remedy today’s unsustainable conditions, and heal our historic wounds is to embracing as our best hope the formidable work of building relationships across all barriers. Or as it says in the book of Isaiah, we hope to join those who

“…will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities… (and) will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.”

To that end, this event is an urgent invitation for our community to begin that work.

#     #     #

When: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 Press Conference begins at 11:30 am. The March will run from 12:00 noon until 1:00 pm with a short prayer service at 1:00 pm.

Where: Press conference, March begins at Ebenezer, UCC, 734 Apple Street, Burlington, NC. March ends at First Christian Church, UCC, 415 South Church Street, Burlington, NC. Van transportation will be provided to take people from Ebenezer to First Christian. Bus transportation will be provided to return to Ebenezer from from First Christian.

Those who are unable to walk the March are encouraged to join us before the March for the 11:30 press conference and after the march at 1:00, for a brief prayer service at First Christian.

Contact: Noah Read, Alamance NAACP – attentionalamance@gmail.com or 336.260.4399

This information is also posted on the Alamance NAACP website here:


and on Facebook here:


Noah Read

Alamance NAACP Political Action Chair




North Carolina Supreme Court Upholds Racially Gerrymandered Districts

Today the North Carolina Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling upholding North Carolina’s state legislative and Congressional redistricting plans.  The North Carolina NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, Democracy NC and dozens of individual voters sued the state over the redistricting plans in November 2011.  The case has been pending with the Supreme Court for a year.  Plaintiffs alleged that the redistricting plans for Congress, State House and State Senate violated the state constitution’s “Whole County Provision” and were racial gerrymanders that violated the federal and state constitutions.  A three-judge panel upheld the plans in July 2013, and the case was argued in front of the state supreme court in early January 2014.  The Court ruled today that the legislature was justified in its attempts to comply with the Voting Rights Act, and that the plans do not violate the state constitutional whole county requirements.

“The Plaintiffs in this case intend to continue their efforts to vindicate their rights.  It is simply wrong for the legislature to carve up this state on the basis of race in these circumstances.” said Anita Earls, lead attorney for the North Carolina NAACP Plaintiffs.

“This is a disappointing development, but we will not give up in our fight to ensure that redistricting in this state is conducted in a fair and legal way,” added Brenda Rogers of the League of Women Voters.  Plaintiffs plan to seek review by the United States Supreme Court as soon as possible so that there will be time for new redistricting plans to be drawn before the 2016 elections.

Justice Beasley’s dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Hudson, notes that the lower court was in error and that, “The majority compounds the error by ignoring altogether the trial court’s explicit findings of fact and by too generously characterizing the General Assembly’s enacted plan. The majority’s departure from this Court’s usual course of adherence to our settled principles of appellate review could create a stain of suspicion among the citizens of the state regarding the actions of their elected officials and bodies of government—both legislative and judicial.”  The dissent would have remanded the case to the trial court to correctly apply strict scrutiny under federal constitutional doctrine that prohibits racial gerrymandering.

The North Carolina Supreme Court opinion is available here.

Hanukkah #BlackLivesMatter

Durham: Peaceful #BlackLivesMatter protest on 1st night of Hanukkah

Some 100 people gathered in downtown Durham Wednesday evening for a peaceful protest on the first night of Hanukkah, part of a nationwide “Chanukah Action to End Police Violence” event.

Carolina Jews for Justice was an organizer locally for the protest by the Major the Bull statue at CCB Plaza.

About 20 menorahs were lit during the hour-long event, the servant candle at the center lighting the first candle of the menorah on the first night of the Jewish holiday.

Crystal is leaving Saturday for a trip to Israel, and will be there for the rest of Hanukkah. He wants to work with others to bring to reality the blessing of peace for all people.

The miracle of Hanukkah, he said, is that the few beat many, but also that they took the first step.

“There are great movements of change when people make the first step together,” he said.

Organizers also distributed “8 Nights, 8 Actions,” a way to dedicate each night of Hanukkah to “Black Lives Matter” issues and people, created by “Chanukah Action.”


Dec. 16, 2014 @ 08:31 PM

Follow on Twitter: @dawnbvaughanThis press clipping first appeared on heraldsun.com on December 16, 2014.