Smoky Hollow –

Smoky Hollow: What lessons can we take away that we can learn from blacks who lived in the Raleigh community of Smoky Hollow a decade after the end of the Civil War? How did they feel about community? What activities do you think they did together as a community? How important was education and politics to them? How did the lack of homeownership in the area lead to it’s decline? To answer these questions, please read the excerpt below:

‘Smoky Hollow was at the heart of Raleigh’s small industrial district, where railroad machine shops, two planning mills, a phosphate company, and a foundry provided jobs for both black and white workers. However, it was also a neighborhood in the fullest sense, in which families prayed and played, making a living and raised children. The 1872 bird’s eye view illustrates three ‘black’ churches here, the First Baptist, St. Augustine’s, Episcopal, and St. Paul AME. Each of these churches helped support a graded school for black children, the largest being publically assisted Johnson School located besides St. Paul A.M.E Church.

As with other black areas around downtown, Smoky Hollow’s expansion was checked by surrounding white neighborhoods. A middle-Class white subdivision began forming to the west in the 1880’s and by the turn of the century mill housing for whites employed at two new cotton mills dotted streets to the north. Raleigh white establishment also appeared to take deliberate steps to hinder Smoky Hollow’s population growth. Although voters in the northwest Raleigh (constituting the Firth Ward between 1875 and 1895, and the First Ward between 1895 and 1913) consistently elected white aldermen, the conservative Democratic Party perceived the district as a potential black (i.e. Republican) stronghold. It included a solid bloc of black voters and was a major area of black employment. Moreover, in 1875, Democrats accused blacks of flooding the ward in an unsuccessful attempt to swing the city election to the Republicans. Consequently, the conservative press wrote in praise of white landlords and property owners restricting black occupancy in the Fifth Ward, and in 1884 the city’s school committee shut down Johnson School. The latter act, though not explicitly done to erode the Smoky Hollow neighborhood, has been suspected by historians of being so. “

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Cash Michaels takes city of Raleigh to school on the local mayoral election 

​From the desk of Cash Michaels!! Tags: Southeast Raleigh, Nancy McFarlane, Charles Francis, Wake County Democratic party, Raleigh politics, North Carolina politics!

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“THE WAY I SEE IT

I warn many of you, especially those who are extremely passionate about this, that there is much what I’m about to say that you may not agree with. In fact, you may vehemently disagree with it, and not like me much afterwards.
That’s fine. I pride myself with always being honest with you, regardless of whether it’s on Facebook, or in my reporting or opinion pieces. My goal is to get you to THINK about what I’m saying and why. You don’t have to agree or accept, and that’s fine too. You only have to know that these words are honest, and not meant to hurt anybody. I’m long out of that business. That’s not my spirit anymore.
And if what I’m saying helps, then all praises to GOD. That’s what I dedicate my skills towards doing, helping people if, and when I can.
Finally, yes, I look forward to reading your feedback. I’m certainly not the lord of all wisdom and knowledge. Good constructive feedback is how I learn too.
So that’s my attitude going into this. I pray that Almighty GOD blesses my thoughts and words to serve only as a guide, and as inspiration where necessary. And if positive action results from it, the indeed, all praises to GOD for allowing me to be His vessel. Let’s begin….
CHARLES FRANCIS
The more I think about the race for Raleigh mayor between incumbent Nancy McFarlane and challenger Charles Francis, the more I get a headache.
Don’t get me wrong. Mayor McFarlane deserved to be challenged. Every incumbent, no matter who they are, or how well they’re doing, should always be held accountable by the voters for their record of service – good or bad. Heck, I was good friends with the late John H. Baker, Jr., one of the finest human beings and public servants ever to serve as sheriff of Wake County in our history. And yet, no matter how popular he was (Baker was larger than life literally), even he had to answer to the people, and as well he should.
Fortunately for us, Sheriff Baker was a good man who cared about the citizens he served, and he stayed in office for a very long time.
In Nancy McFarlane’s case, the city of Raleigh has grown tremendously on her watch, thanks in large part to the foundation laid by her immediate predecessor, Charles Meeker. For the most part, the quality of life and living in Raleigh is good. But there’s no question that in some cases, that has come at the expense of Raleigh’s African-American community, especially in the downtown and Southeast Raleigh areas.
Truth be told, and those of us who’ve been around Raleigh for at least the past two decades know, the Raleigh that we have today is the Raleigh we were warned was coming at least 15 years ago, if not earlier. We knew that downtown was going to be revitalized. We knew that abandoned properties in and around Southeast Raleigh, owned for the most part by absentee landlords, were going to be snatched up by the city leveraging state law, and then sold to eager developers.
We were warned that one day in the not to distant future, District C, the district that represents most of traditional black Raleigh, would one day have a white representative on the City Council. Hasn’t happened yet, but you see that every two years for at least the past decade, more and more white candidates from District C keep entering the race.  
It’s just a matter of time.
A lot of cities and towns across North Carolina, and indeed across America, have experienced gentrification, so it’s no surprise that Raleigh is among that number. Municipalities see the need to expand and enhance their tax bases, so they’re looking at what is not producing more revenue, and they’re doing something about it.
In turn, many inner city and urban communities – once thriving neighborhoods, business centers and industrial sites – now sit abandoned and forgotten for many years. Cities have partnered with the federal government to either make these properties useful either for affordable housing, or to issue tax credits for businesses to locate factories.
That’s just a fact of life. I know folks who call these areas home don’t like it, because many times the changes take place without their knowledge or say so, but time doesn’t sit still for anyone. I’m not saying this is right; I’m saying this is the way it is.
And why does this happen seemingly unabated? Because your local leaders allow it too. They don’t stand up, speak out or fight back. They don’t rally the community as they should to demand the things they need to improve the quality of life for the people living there. They’ve allowed things to fall apart, to become ugly and crime-ridden, because these “leaders” have come to believe that the people they represent …don’t care.
And you know what? For the most part, they’re right! Of course, in every community there are going to be a handful who are always “fired up and ready to go.” They love their community, remember it when it was thriving, care for the children that are still there, and know that things can improve, if only neighbors would work together, look out for each other, and the city help them in their efforts.
But that rarely happens, except when something tragic happens, like a fatal police shooting, or a gang murder or rape. Then people get exercised, get angry, even frightened. But that doesn’t last long, and it’s certainly not how neighborhoods and communities are grown, improved or sustained.
And, of course, look at it from the community’s point of view. 
Many in African-American and Hispanic inner cities are poor, and emotionally beaten down. They feel as if they are isolated, that no one else in the city cares about them, or their concerns. They see the police as folks WHO DO NOT LIVE IN THEIR COMMUNITY, making sure that whatever trouble happened there doesn’t spread elsewhere in the city. Thus, cops are an invading force, not partners in maintaining safe order.
Since their youth, they’ve grown up to see only the hostility of city services – always second-rate or afterthoughts by those in power. Always considered a burden, to the point that whenever budget cuts can be made to the inner city, they are made.
Residents there KNOW they get the worst schools, and the worst teachers – many of whom don’t really want to be there teaching, or really having anything to do with their black children. And they know that the system, regardless of whether it’s Democrat or Republican, isn’t really investing in educating their children as it should, to help give them, a chance to learn, and make their way in life so that they don’t have to wallow there for the rest of their lives.
I still remember how, growing up as a kid in Brooklyn, NY during the 1960’s and 70’s, how my mother, and so many other black mothers just like her, stressed the importance of education as our ticket out, and up in life. And we had a civil rights movement that created an atmosphere in black communities throughout the nation, where we all were encouraged to strive for excellence and achievement. Our radio stations, our major artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, even James Brown, all contributed to the adage of have fun, yes, BUT GET YOUR EDUCATION TOO! Those in my generation KNOW this to be true…because many of us took that advice, and have done something with our lives.
That’s why I WILL ALWAYS THANK GOD for the black mother I had…one of the strongest, most courageous, most decent human beings I’ve EVER known in my life! Without her, I would be NOTHING today!

So hat in the world does all of this have to do with Charles Francis and his 2017 candidacy for Raleigh mayor?
I think it can safely be said that 75% of Raleigh residents – whether you agree with them or not – believe that Mayor McFarlane has done a decent job leading the City Council. They see the growth, they see the opportunities, and they feel a sense of positive, deliberate progress forward.
They feel that the quality of life, overall, has improved in the city, and 75% give Mayor McFarlane credit for that. 
There have been no major scandals – financial or otherwise – and folks generally have confidence in the city’s leadership.
75%.
But what about the other 25%? For the most part, those are the folks who supported Charles Francis.
Many of them have seen their community razed by gentrification, but developers from elsewhere just roaring in, buying up properties, low-balling folks out of their homes and reselling after development for almost 20 times as much.
Many of these people are angry that they are being forced out, and not getting either the chance, or respect, of being able to move back in because they simply can’t afford to. New high-end shops and businesses are moving in, but they cater to a different clientele – white outsiders with money and opportunities, and absolutely NO respect for the history or culture that preceded them there.
Now you know how the folks in Harlem, NY have been feeling.
But when Charles Francis, who was born in SE Raleigh, and comes from a fine family there, announced that he was running for Raleigh mayor, all of a sudden, here was someone who could give their dire cause voice, and if he could actually win, finally, there would be someone leading the council who would understand their plight, and do something about it.
As black people have always done, they put their hopes and dreams on the candidacy of Charles Francis, not realizing that the odds were really against them!

WHAT WAS MISSED, AND WHY

Raleigh, like many other cities across the nation, has a city manager-run government for day-to-day operations. The city administration is responsible for implementing whatever policies the City Council puts forth.

Thus, the City Council doesn’t “run” the city per se; rather it sets policy for the city manager and his staff to follow. That includes the police department, fire department, etc.
The mayor, in turn, is the leader of the council, true, but as leader, in all honesty, the mayor ONLY has one vote on anything and everything. In realty, the true power of the mayor is in consensus building and arm-twisting. Getting a majority of the council to agree with the mayor’s vision on policy, is what the mayor must do, or else that vision goes NOWHERE.
Obviously, that means sometimes the mayor wins, and sometimes the mayor loses.
This is what a lot of people who supported Charles Francis either didn’t understand, or just didn’t want to hear. There was NEVER a scenario where he could EVER do anything by himself. As mayor, he could only work to build consensus on the council towards whatever policy vision he had, but if a majority of council members disagreed with him, there goes the ballgame.
And keep in mind that the rest of the council have developers, businesspeople, other elected officials, and even other council members always talking to them, always lobbying them towards one direction on any given issue or another.
Oh, did I mention that citizens from their respective districts are always lobbying them too?
So a mayor’s special ability to cajole, arm-twist, make deals even (I’ll support your policy if you support mine) is what citizens are by-and-large voting for, in addition to their understanding the issues affecting citizens, their quality of life in the city, and the quality of services they’re getting, or expect from the city.
So again, those who supported Charles Francis’ call for more “inclusion” in the planning and vision for Raleigh, and saying that Mayor McFarlane did a “good” job, but if elected, he could do “much better,” was great political rhetoric.
Problem was while Francis’ background (went to law school with Michelle Obama; was an accomplished lawyer and businessman) was impressive, and he personally and professionally is impressive, and he spoke with great passion and precision about the issues of “inclusion” and the need for more affordable housing in the city for those with low-wealth incomes, he was only reaching 25% of the people with those messages.
The other 75% were waiting to be convinced…and never got there.

Now, I know at least one of Charles’ campaign advisors, and he is a seasoned pro when it comes to political campaigns, no doubts. But I find it impossible to believe that even he couldn’t figure out just how uphill Francis versus McFarlane was going to be.
I’ve been covering local, state and national politics since I arrived in North Carolina in 1981, and I can honestly say I’ve seen some of the best, and worst political campaigns ever. Say what you want about the late Sen. Jesse Helms, but ask Harvey Gantt or Jim Hunt about Helms. That man would literally wait until the last minute to actively campaign against an opponent, and when he did, there was NEVER any comeback for the other guy.
Helms, the old racist that he was, would rhetorically poke you in the eye, and then when you grabbed your eye in pain, he’d kick you in the groin, making you and your campaign immediately react to that. He always defined the terms of engagement. Anytime you find yourself also reacting, instead of defining what the terms of the campaign will be, you’ll lose. That’s what made Helms unbeatable!
But that wasn’t Charles Francis’ problem. His problem, to put this in comic book terms, was he was Robin to Nancy McFarlane’s Wonder Woman.
Now Robin is great…he’s a true hero…we all love him, but let’s face it, Robin was NOT Batman, and only Batman ever had a chance to beat Wonder Woman!
If Raleigh was a city steeped in scandal and corruption, with a failing economy and sinking quality of life for everybody but the richest,. …Nancy McFarlane would have been duck soup for the Republican who also ran in the initial election.
But Raleigh is none of those things for 75% of its residents. And McFarlane cuts a good figure as a capable, tough but caring political leader who leans liberal but is a registered unaffiliated. She has a sturdy record on the City Council as both a councilor and three-terms as mayor, with loads of accomplishments.
She’s tough, but not gruff, and McFarlane gets things done.
I know of NO political guru who is capable of taking a politician of her caliber down without out-and-out lying, and even that would be hard to get away with because of McFarlane’s high credibility.
So where did that leave one-issue-to- one-part-of-Raleigh Francis?
Yes, I give it to him for being aggressive, and being articulate in his cause. But apparently the folks who were advising him missed a very important, basic fact about politics.
Dress it up all you want, but political campaigns are about speaking to the primary interests of prospective voters. Simple. How effectively you do it is the art, the science, but essentially it boils down to that.
75% of Raleigh’s residents have a home; a good job with a decent income; send their kids to a decent school…they’re content. Of course they’re nervous about Trump and what the Republican-led NC legislature is doing, but that has nothing to do with Nancy. She’s doing her job, the trash gets picked up, the police keep the neighborhood safe, and the nearby parks are peaceful and clean.
OK, OK, there a lot more traffic out here in Briar’s Creek and North Hills than when we first moved out here, and I would like to get to work faster in the morning without all that congestion, but hey, a lot of folks want a piece of the good life too. So hopefully we can get the council to do something about this. But at least on the weekends there are places to shop, take the kids, and there are always great restaurants downtown, and great college basketball games, football games and concerts around.

All in all, I have no real problems with Mayor McFarlane. And whether she’s “inclusive” or not, that’s NOT my problem right now. And since Charles Francis hasn’t said anything to really improve what I already have…well, I like him, he seems sturdy, and maybe in two years after Nancy steps down….but for now, either I vote to re-elect Nancy, or I don’t vote at all.
No real emergency here, says the 75-percenter.
But for folks in the eastern part of the city, the script is flipped. They experiencing the sharp indignities of a growing, modernizing city, and they don’t like it. They’re losing too much, too soon with no recognition, they feel. They’re not being heard.
Charles Francis hears them. He hears “us.” If “we” want to be heard, let’s elect Charles Francis for Raleigh mayor, said the 25-percenters.
As you know, Francis lost the initial election to McFarlane by over ten points, but she fell just short of getting over 50% of the vote as required.
So Francis rolled the dice, called for a runoff, and got beaten by almost 20 points, as if the 75-percenters said, “Apparently you didn’t hear us the first time!”
No, I’m not being cruel here, but just making it plain. WITHOUT A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT MCFARLANE’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES WERE, THERE NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN A RUNOFF!
In politics, if you’re going to get a cherished two bites at the apple, you MUST make that second bite count! Charles Francis and his team failed to do that, and because of it, the hopes and dreams of many of his constituents were crushed unnecessarily.
Oh, but make no mistake…the Wake County Democratic Party, and former Gov. Jim Hunt are certainly the villains in this as well. And I’m getting to that RIGHT NOW!
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
When I heard that Charles Francis was running around calling himself a “Jim Hunt Democrat,” I immediately asked myself, “Does Charles have Jim Hunt’s endorsement? After all, Charles is running as a Democrat, albeit in a nonpartisan race for mayor.
It wasn’t long before I got my answer. Jim Hunt, probably the most respected Democrat in the state of North Carolina, HAD NOT endorsed Charles Francis, the Democratic standard-bearer in the Raleigh mayoral race. He, once again, endorsed Nancy McFarlane.
If there was no Democrat in the race, then folks wouldn’t have cared what Hunt did. But with Francis in and running, that changed the dynamic considerably, and Gov. Hunt, the Wake Democratic Party, and Charles Francis and his advisors should have known it upfront.
Now here, I need you to make believe you’ve run a political campaign before. You’re candidate is running as a Democrat in a nonpartisan race for mayor, against an incumbent, successful mayor who leans Democrat, but is unaffiliated, and HAS BEEN ENDORSED BY DEMOCRATS BEFORE!
So what do you do, EVEN BEFORE you allow your candidate to announce his candidacy? YOU CHECK IN WITH THESE DEMOCRATS WHO’VE ENDORSED HER BEFORE, FIND OUT WHY, AND ASK THEM EITHER TO ENDORSE YOUR CANDIDATE INSTEAD (AND WHY), OR IF THEY WON’T, THEN AT LEAST ASK THEM TO KEEP A LOW PROFILE IN THIS RACE SO THAT IT DOESN’T SPLIT THE PARTY, ESPECIALLY WITH BLACK VOTERS, WHO WILL BE MIGHTY TICKED OFF, AND FEEL BETRAYED!
Did any of the Einsteins running the Francis campaign do this? I honestly don’t know. But it should have been done, and a Plan B should have been devised if everyone turned you thumbs down.
And that Plan B should have included NO MENTION OF JIM HUNT’S NAME IF YOU DON’T HAVE HIS ENDORSEMENT!
Do I have to write that in CAPS again? If Jim Hunt, because he was asked, decided either to switch his endorsement (for party unity), or just stay mum period, that would have been a tremendous asset to the Francis campaign. Instead, Charles publicly identifies himself with someone who is identifying with Charles’ opponent.
There aren’t enough letters in the alphabet to describe politically just how DUMB that was? And remember, we are talking politics here, and a major part of that is controlling the optics – what prospective voters see and hear about you and your campaign. That’s a MUST
The Wake Democratic Party, which did back Francis (apparently in name only), did little to make sure that folks were in line for him. Apparently there were a lot of folks who liked Nancy, backed her before, and were backing her again.

Fine, that was their right, but what did the party do to at least tab that down? What prominent Democrats stepped up to fill the void of visible, outspoken support for Charles Francis? Some did, but NOT enough. More should have been wrangled by the party (state and county) and the Francis campaign.

I know of NO credible excuse for this not to have happened, except that the Wake Democratic Party is weak to begin with! 2018 is almost here, y’all, with 2020 right behind it. BETTER EAT YOUR WHEATIES!!!

The whole drama with Equality NC yanking their endorsement from Francis…talk about bad optics! Especially when it’s discovered he campaigned for an anti-LGBTQ Republican candidate Fred Smith. Why wasn’t the Francis campaign ready for that/ Why accept their initial endorsement at all, knowing that Charles’ relationship with Smith would have to come out at some point?

That was a pure MESS, a sloppy MESS at that. If you find your candidate having to back-pedal in the middle of a campaign, you truly need to ask yourself what are you doing right?!!!
Those controversies and slipups cost Charles Francis in credibility. Now I know the folks who supported Charles don’t agree, but they’re forgetting something… HE WAS RUNNING TO BECOME MAYOR OF THE ENTIRE CITY, not just Southeast Raleigh.  He could easily win Southeast Raleigh with all this MESS, but the city?
No!

So when the smoke clear after all of this, key Democrats, especially Gov. Hunt, turn their backs on Charles, and he loses badly in the end. And now black folk in Southeast Raleigh are blazing mad, feeling betrayed ONCE AGAIN that refuses to love them back, even though they are the party’s most devoted supporters.

So now what?

SO YOU WANT TO LEAVE THE PARTY, EH 
OK, then stop talking about it, and do it! Black folks in Wake County should leave the Democratic Party, if they’re so inclined.

Either you become unaffiliated (like Mayor Nancy), or you try to start a party of your own.

Then again, if you’re much older than some of the very angry young folk right now, you’re saying out loud, “Waaaaait a minute, there Cash! True, the Wake Democratic Party (and the over all party in general) has been screwing up for a long time, and yes, there are times (plenty to mention) when white folks in the party have used the black vote to no end to get what they want, but rarely deliver on their promises. So yeah, I’ll testify to that.

And yet, YOU older black folks say, that doesn’t mean we should just up and abandoned a party that has done some important things for our community. After all, black folks have a deep investment in the Democratic Party. We’ve elected some dynamic leaders in the party, from former Councilman Brad Thompson, to the late Wake Sheriff John Baker, to Harriet Webster (we miss her), to Dan Blue, Mickey Michaux from Durham (still in the fighting the good fight at age 206 – no that’s not a typo, Mickey (smile)), Wake Commissioner Jessica Holmes (one of the new generation of dynamic young leaders on the scene today who truly cares about her community), and of course, the newest NC Supreme Court Associate Justice Mike Morgan, and many, many others!

Yes, as black folks, we’ve invested way too much to just walk away from the party now, over the Francis candidacy, YOU older black folks are saying. 

But the younger black folks reply, “Yeah, we get that. But a new day is dawning. The whole Democratic Party game with black folks has been peeped – Donna Brazile, Hillary Clinton and all of that. Y’all want our votes, you want our loyalty on Election Day, but after Election Day, clearly you neither want us nor need us anymore until the NEXT Election Day. As far as we’re concerned, the reason why the unaffiliated ranks in North Carolina have grown to the point where they might as well be a third political party is because folks are just tired of the lies, and the back-room deals, and just the overall dishonesty. 

People are suffering out here, cuz, and ain’t nobody doing anything to really get some well-paying jobs or job training up in here, or making sure that when the police step out of line, that they really face justice just like any other law-breaker, or that crooked politicians get real punishment, or that the we get this health care mess straightened out.

We see Republicans, and we know they’re wrong, but you old folks are just lettin’ Trump and those clowns get away with all sorts of murder!

And YOU older black folks respond, “Well we can’t do much unless the folks who complain all the time would finally show up to VOTE. Folks want change, but they don’t want to put in the effort to make it happen! Change comes from the inside out, NOT outside in. Can’t change something unless you’re a part of it!  That means, if you leave the Democratic Party, you can’t change much of anything you’re complaining about!

And the young black folks reply, “Yeah, and we don’t want to be a part of a corrupt, sinking ship either! We want a party that speaks to our vision of the world, what we feel is important in life. We truly want the power to belong to the people, not this farce you all are going along with, thinking you have power, when you don’t in the white man’s Democratic Party. Hell, ain’t really an inch worth of difference between that and the Republicans. White Democrats are just more subtle about their racism!

And YOU older black folks say……

Well, I could go on and on with this…but actually, and you’ll find this weird, but I agree with BOTH perspectives.

Young people see clearly the faults of the current Democratic Party, and for the most part, want nothing to do with it. The 2016 election kind of proved that. If Barack Obama hadn’t come along in 2008, young people would have bailed out of the party a long time ago.

But they saw hope in Obama’s candidacy, and someone who spoke TO them. The party hasn’t done a very good job of finding someone who can, once again, speak confidently to young people about their future. Sen. Cory Booker has those skills. It’s just a question of what he will do.

So Democratic Party, particularly here in Wake County, you have really shot yourself in the foot with this Charles Francis thing, on top of all of the other problems you face. 

And yet, YOU black old folks ALSO have a cogent point – the black community has way too much invested in the Democratic Party to just shuck it to the side without a strategy.

After all, Charlotte and Fayetteville just elected two new black mayors, and they’ll need the strong support of their communities to succeed, as do all other black Democratic elected officials.

But if you’re serious about leaving the party, then let me suggest the following – GET OUT THE BATH TUB!

And as you know, unless you’re crazy and looking to kill yourself, you can only get out of the bath tub (or the shower, for that matter), ONE LEG AT A TIME! No one just jumps out, ‘cause you will hurt yourself when you slip and fall. 

If you intend to build a separate party for black folks, then do the work necessary…ALL of the work necessary to make it viable and attractive to prospective voters. This is actually nothing new. Others have tried it before, back in the 1970’s particularly. There are many, many reasons why their efforts failed, but study that history, and improve your chances of making it happen! 

But do that WHILE you’re still in the Democratic Party, because that is where you are going to get your training!

You see, I’m a firm believer, and unfortunately so, that black folks are afraid of power. You read that right…we are afraid of power, and the deep responsibilities that come with it.

And the reason why we’re afraid is because, as African-Americans, we’ve had very little of it throughout history, plus, we’ve more times than not, been on the business-end of someone deliberately using their power to either hurt us or hold us back.

Thus, we see power as inherently evil. It’s not, but because black folks have had precious little of it, it is not part of our heritage of knowing how to wield it.

Now I’m talking African-Americans. In Africa, the rulers of mineral-rich nations are well acquainted with power, and what to do with it, because they‘ve sold the rights to oil, gold, diamonds, rubber and whatever vast resources their nation has, thus developing wealth.

But for black folks here in the Ole US of A, few of us have any experience with that stuff, except Oprah or other rich and famous brothas and sistahs!

We really don’t know how to look someone in the eye, say, “EXCUSE ME? HELL NO!!!, mean it, and know we have the personal, professional and institutional means to back it up. 

THAT’S TRUE POWER!

In the Democratic Party, the ONLY “power” that we have are our numbers, and the fact that historically before Republicans got serious about rigging the redistricting maps and screwing with the voting laws, black people were the margin of victory in many, many legislative an congressional races between Dems and Republicans

That’s one of the reasons why white Democrats are fighting GOP redistricting tooth and nail (C’mon Dems, you KNOW I KNOW).

So, black Democrats are badly needed, and Republicans (you sly little devils you), are doing all they can to prevent anymore GOP voting maps or anymore GOP voting laws from being messed with.

WORD!

But what are black Democrats doing with this knowledge that they are badly needed in the party because of their numbers?

NOTHING! Not one blessed thing!

Black Dems should be ALWAYS leveraging their POWER of numbers in the party…ALWAYS. ANNNNNNNND, you should always follow-through with your threats when deals are broken and promises are not kept (and don’t fool yourself, the word “deals” doesn’t mean anything nefarious or evil. Call it an agreement, which requires two or more, but anytime folks with common interests decide it would benefit all if they come to some kind of understanding of terms, THAT’s a deal!).

I don’t care who you’re community elects to represent your interest at table is, or how long he or she has been in office. If they’re not truly representing the real interests of the constituency they were elected to represent, GET RID OF THEM! Because trust me, someone whose interests conflicts with yours WILL take that representative to the side, and the next thing you know, you’ll see a case of talking-out-of-both-sides-of-your-mouthitis! FOR REAL!

Learn to leverage your power in the party AFTER you’ve first identified what your true power is, and why you are truly needed.

Study recent history as proof. White evangelicals have had a real tension with establishment Republicans for a long time because they always felt used, always felt establishment Republicans just wanted their votes, but when they won, always found an excuse not to give white evangelicals a place at the table to help determine policy.

It was during the Debye years when white evangelicals finally said “Enough,” no matter much Karl Rove was pushing them.

Finally, in 2016, they found their champion in Donald J. Trump. With his election, they finally have a seat at the table to help determine policy. And that’s why Orange Man can do, and say anything he wants – because he’s delivering on his promises to white evangelicals where previous Republican presidents wouldn’t.

Black folks, you may call yourself making the Democratic Party “pay” for what happened to Charles Francis by threatening to leave the party, but clearly you and your community will pay if you leave the party without first learning to leverage your power in it.

Quite frankly, the Democratic Party doesn’t care how angry black folks get, as long as they show up when needed. Thus, DUHHHHHHH, MAKE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY REALLY NEED YOU!

You have to think of this like a business, BECAUSE IT IS A BUSINESS. Any relationship with voters is transactional. You do for us, we keep you in power. Simple! 

But riddle me this, black folks. You say you want the Democratic Party should be loyal to you and your interests, your issues, your needs in your community. You want the (until recently) undying love and affection you’ve been giving it, returned in spectacular fashion every time you show up to vote. 

Well, let’s take a closer look here…how much money have you and yours given to the Democratic Party historically…NOT just to a chosen candidate, but to the party itself? You say you want a better, stronger Democratic Party, but you refuse to help it pay its bills.

C’mon, the phone rings in an elected Democrat’s office. His secretary tells him or her there are two phone callers waiting on hold – a black constituent from SE Raleigh, and a donor who contributed $500.00 to the party or campaign.

Which phone call gets answered first, and which phone call gets the brush-off?

POWER!

Oh, you don’t have $500.00 to give to any candidate’s campaign. YOU don’t, but a lot of you from your community collectively do!

Next…alright you do the right thing and your civic duty, and vote the candidate in for the next four years. YIPPEEE!

Then you get DUMB, and never hold that elected official accountable again until it’s election time four years from now. And when that official plays dumb about the things you were promised originally if you voted, you get all mad and vow to leave the party, and blah, blah, blah….

HEY, WOULD YOU PUT YOUR CHILD SOMEWHERE, CLOSE THE DOOR, AND GO AWAY FOR FOUR YEARS, NEVER CHECKING UP ON HIM/HER? OF COURSE NOT.

Elected officials are NOT children, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them the same kind of attention after you’ve elected them. Hey, they came to YOU asking for the job, asking you to elect them. So they KNOW that at some point and time, you may decide to hold them accountable for how they addressed the issues you voted for them on. 

DO THAT…don’t elect people to two or four-year terms, and then NEVER call them, or meet with them, or invite them to community functions, or follow what they say in the press, or follow how they’ve voted on your issues and not ask them why! IT’S YOUR FAULT OTHERWISE if they turn out to be lemons, and all of a sudden decide not to either take your calls, or return your calls, and forget that you even exist until election time.

Black folks, you want a better, more responsive Democratic Party? THEN STOP TAKING YOURSELVES FOR GRANTED! GET INVOLVED IN RUNNING THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. And don’t ask politely! FIGHT TO MAKE IT WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE! No, you’re not going to win the first time, or the second time. But sticking with your beliefs and positions, and attracting more supporters to your vision, is how revolutions occur.

Cause, whether you like it or not, a lot of black people (especially a lot of the older crew) are NOT leaving the Democratic Party because of their deep investment in it. True, they should be demanding changes, working towards that change, and standing strong for that change, and don’t stop. If more people see that and join in the struggle, then that change will eventually come (you’ve got to have the long wind for this).

But if you do decide to leave the party to build an alternative, don’t just up and quit. Nothing constructive comes out of that. DEMAND CHANGE, and back it up with leverage. ORGANIZE likeminded supporters, and be smart about how you do it. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN, and don’t be afraid to take advise from us old-heads on what to do and how to do it. 

Say what you want about this country, but one thing it does give you is the right and the chance to decide your own destiny. But that takes courage, wisdom and vision. Don’t get so full of yourself that you don’t employ any of those. Yes, be determined, but also be patient. DON’T LET YOUR SHORT TERM ANGER DETERMINE YOUR LONG TERM ACTIONS! Study the challenge ahead, and move carefully and intelligently.

But remember, if you want people who already have power to listen to you, and respect you, then learn to leverage YOUR power to make the change you desire come into fruition. 

NO LEVERAGE? THEN KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, BECAUSE UNLESS YOU CAN MAKE REAL CHANGE HAPPEN, NOT JUST FOR YOURSELF, BUT FOR OTHERS, NO ONE CARES! REALLY!

And one more thing, I’m a prayerful man, so hopes, dreams and faith mean the world to me.

BUT HOPES, DREAMS AND FAITH, WITHOUT GOOD, STRONG WORKS TO BACK ANY OF IT UP, MEAN NOTHING!

The folks who ran the Francis campaign BADLY dropped the ball in his race for mayor, and it hurt a lot of people! Y’all need to do better the next time, if there is a next time! Don’t allow ego or over self-confidence get in the way of common sense, like it apparently did in this Raleigh’s mayoral race. Raleigh’s African-American community deserved much better. 

And Wake Democratic Party… I’ll be meeting with your leader next week, and I’ll be listening intently

But make NO mistake…. there is little, to next to nothing, that will change the honest assessment that I’ve given here toda

Y’all GOD bless, and have a great rest of the day!
 
 THE END

Southeast Raleigh stand up or stand down! 

On October the 10th, many of us accepted the civic responsibility to caste our vote for the Raleigh local municipality election.  We elected two at-large city council candidates, five city council members, but we did not elect a mayor.

Our current mayor, Nancy McFarlane served as mayor of Raleigh for six years and 4 years as a city council person. That’s over 10 years in local government.

Over the last ten years, Raleigh has seen a lot of growth, but have we seen the same growth in our communities as other areas of town?

Are we satisfied with the direction the city is going? Are we okay with seeing our elders displaced from subsidized housing for the sake of development? We’re losing Sir Walter Raleigh and Wintershaven in the very near future and the question has to be asked, where will our seniors go?

Raleigh is loosing more affordable housing than what is being created. The 1cent tax as said by many is too little and too late.

We need a mayor who will aggressively work towards creating more affordable housing and who will make it a priority.

We need a mayor who will put people first over business and parks.

We need a mayor who will make themselves available to the concerns of those who have the least!

We have an opportunity to elect a mayor who is from Southeast Raleigh and knows our challenges.

On October 10th, Charles Francis received 36.8% of the votes and Nancy McFarlane received 48% of the votes. Neither secured the 50% +1 needed for victory.

Charles Francis by law was given the choice to take a runoff which means we all have to go back to the polls to caste our votes again.

In total, he had about 19,000 people vote for him and if he is to become the City of Raleigh’s next mayor, we need to make sure we don’t loose one of those votes and we need more.

This is where our collective civic responsibility comes into play.

If we want to see better policies and representation of ourselves, families and communities at this particular time in Raleigh’s history, we need to encourage our family and friends to vote.

Early voting starts October 19th and election day is on November 7th.

We need people who are committed to seeing change to take on this responsibility and own it!

Too much is at stake to not take the next three weeks serious! Our voices may have fallen on deaf ears over the last decade, but we now have an opportunity to make sure we have provisions for our children, our elders, our youth and ourselves.

VOTE, please!!!

Who is Charles Francis? A son, a husband, a father, an attorney, a democrat, founding director of North State Bank, graduate of Princeton University and Duke University School of Law, Duke University School of Law, Attorney for Saint Augustin and Raleigh Housing Authority.

Please read the questionair below from Indyweek to learn more about Charles Francis.

1) Between gentrification in historic neighborhoods and expensive rentals downtown, Raleigh has struggled with questions of affordable and workforce housing. In June, the city council set a goal of fifty-seven hundred more affordable units over the next decade. With burgeoning growth and rising housing prices, what additional steps should Raleigh take to create more affordable housing?

Affordable housing primarily consists of three programs – Housing that is administered by public housing authorities, naturally occurring affordable housing, and low-income tax credit housing. I have a deep familiarity with Raleigh Housing Authority programs, having served as General Counsel to RHA since 1995. That experience and knowledge are invaluable in working to save and promote affordable housing.
The government cannot solve the housing issue alone. We should explore loan programs administered by the City and funded by banks and private philanthropy to help owners renovate and upgrade older properties in exchange for placing income restrictions and rent restrictions that maintain affordability for a period of years. As Mayor, I will aggressively pursue the construction of tax credit housing all over Raleigh including areas where the current city scattered site policy prohibits such construction. The city should also contribute or buy down the cost of land for tax credit deals since land is one of the largest costs of development.


2) Related to affordable housing (and affordability in general) is viable public transportation. What steps can the city take to improve mass transit throughout the city? County voters approved a transit referendum last fall that will eventually create a bus rapid transit system and commuter rail line. What more should be done?

Investment in public transportation goes beyond bond packages. The citizens of Raleigh need to have faith in our existing transit system. Our current mayor stated earlier this year that the citizens of Raleigh would wait 18 months before a new bus can arrive on our streets. Working families need help today and cannot wait longer to solve our transit problems. We must work to get our residents to their locations faster, and our citizens should be more informed about transit opportunities. Increased availability and better technology are paths forward and should coincide with any regional rail lines that are a part of long term planning.


3.) Given the inflamed racial tensions after the recent events in Charlottesville, what steps should Raleigh take to position itself as a guardian of social justice? How would you characterize city leaders’ relationship with Raleigh’s communities of color, and what should be done to improve that relationship going forward?

Raleigh can do better for communities of color. The issue is not simply a black and white issue; this is an all people of Raleigh issue. We must include and accept the diversity that makes Raleigh great, and the membership of our city council should reflect the diversity of Raleigh.
The shooting of Akiel Denkins, an unarmed man in Southeast Raleigh, gave pause to many people across Raleigh that despite the high ratings we receive in various publications, we have real issues to address in our backyard. Racial tensions were high, law enforcement trust questioned, and revealed ignored issues of discontent.
Unity within our community helps us in times of tragedy, like the Denkins shooting, but leadership should happen without the occurrence of a senseless death. Raleigh needs a leader that will be honest and forth coming about improving our relationship with communities of color. I will be that leader as Mayor, not because I am black, but because this city lacks the leadership at City Hall to tackle the tough problems directly and without cause.
In relations to Charlottesville, the chaos, injury, and death caused by hateful agitators were a tragic but predictable consequence of their actions. As one city and one nation, we must support the victims of terrorism and forcefully reject all efforts to make America hate again. As a nation, we can do better.
Now is the time for all southerners and all Americans to speak and act forcefully against monuments to terror, the resurgence of hate and the equivocation and hesitation on the part of so-called leaders in Washington. Raleigh must lead in promoting diversity and inclusion and standing against hate. We shouldn’t pretend it couldn’t happen here. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”


4.) Given the recent creation of the community engagement board, what do you believe the role of citizens advisory councils should be? What features and levels of involvement do you want to see incorporated into the new structure?

I believe in strengthening our Citizen Advisory Councils, and making sure they have a critical voice on land-use issues facing our city. When two opposing sides find common ground, they often find the best decision through compromise. Raleigh cannot make progress if we allow the highest bidder to make all the decisions for the best interests of their neighbors and not allow them to have input or recourse.


5) Thinking about the current direction of Raleigh city government, would you say things are generally on the right course? If not, what specific changes you will advocate if elected?

The cultural revitalization of downtown Raleigh is on the course with attracting interests that reflect the diversity of Raleigh. These efforts are less to do with the government taking credit for such events and more the citizens asking for more entertainment options. We can further improve downtown and other areas of Raleigh by bringing together small business leaders to help find ways increase storefronts and sustain more local businesses.


6) If you are a candidate for a district seat, please identity your priorities for improvements in the district if you’re elected. If you are an at-large or mayoral candidate, please identify the three most pressing issues the city faces and how you will address them.

I believe that improving the quality of life for our citizens with access to housing, managing the consequences of the city’s growth in easing traffic congestion, and recruiting good jobs are the most important issues facing Raleigh in the coming years.
Improving the quality of life of our citizens with access to housing is our most pressing need. Affordable housing is not solely through a lens that factors the calculation of the poverty line. We have people in Raleigh who work 40-hour jobs who cannot live inside of our city limits because they cannot afford the rent. We have seniors who have lived their best days being pushed out due to rising property taxes or building owners who are looking to increase profit margins with a change in clientele. We have leadership at City Hall that is satisfied with increasing affordable housing units by the dozens instead of by the hundreds. As mayor, I will have real fiscal planning that coincides with public and private partnerships that focus on this crisis.
In addressing the traffic issues of our city, acknowledging we have a marketing problem is the first step toward earning public trust. Light rail services are the way of the future, but we currently lack a real timeline as to when they will solve our immediate needs. City leaders must act now to add additional buses to existing routes, use technology to help citizens know when mass transit options are in their area, and explore ways to become more efficient. 
With respect to jobs, I will champion the job recruitment and retention efforts of our city. Recruiting good jobs goes beyond giving tax breaks to new comers to our area. The city’s leadership should embrace the existing small business community and ask what ways can the government get out of the way of increasing growth and creating more jobs. As mayor, I will recruit and retain jobs from companies near and far, increase the relationships we have with our existing business community, and reduce the city governance red tape that stifles growth.


7) What in your public or professional career shows your ability to be an effective member of the city council? If you’ve identified specific issues above, what in your record has prepared you to deal with them?

My 28 years in the practice of law have prepared me. In that time I’ve seen that often the only way to bring about positive change is to engage issues with direct and decisive intent. In doing so, I have won justice for everyday people in large settlements and judgments. 
The breadth of my experiences in Raleigh from the Mini Parks and community centers to the boardrooms and drawing rooms and my experiences around the country and the world have helped to prepare me. 
My faith prepares me. My optimism that Raleigh can go from good to great prepares me. We Can Do Better. I am prepared to lead Raleigh to the next level as Mayor.

8) Please give an example of an action by the city council in the past year that went wrong or should have been handled differently. Also, what was the city’s biggest accomplishment during that period?

I know Raleigh can do better and we can start by acknowledging that Raleigh is wasting money to request additional studies for budgetary decision. Our first responders and other city employees deserved a pay increase and $250,000 of taxpayer monies to determine the level of pay increases is not good government. We should have competent city management that can access such a situation and not participate in such frivolous spending.

9) How do you identify yourself to others in terms of your political philosophy? For example, do you tell people you’re a conservative, a moderate, a progressive, a libertarian?

I am a Jim Hunt Democrat. I believe we must increase social mobility. We must listen to our business leaders for information on how to bring more jobs to our city. I believe in including diverse opinions to attract support from a broad range of people.


10) Now that the city is moving ahead with plans for the 306-acre Dorothea Dix Park, what are some specific features or focuses you’d work to see as part of final design?

I would like to see more citizen involvement beyond individuals who live near Dix Park. If Dix Park is the Central Park of Raleigh for the people of the city, then we must hear from regular residents who live beyond the downtown corridor. Small business leaders should be a part of the discussion as to what they would like to see commercially at Dix. These leaders must be a part conversation on the growth and opportunity for local businesses at the park.

 

Redevelopment is causing brown water in one of Raleigh’s historically Black neighborhoods 

There was a packed house at the City of Raleigh 2030 Comprehensive Planning public meeting held on June 14th at Tarboro Road Center. People from all walks of life voiced concerns over the direction the City and its current council are taking that is continuing to make Raleigh a fragmented city of the have’s and have not’s. A city where people have to literally fight for housing as “Affordable Housing” is quietly being rebranded ‘workforce housing’ for middle income new comers. As this occurs, we see less funding going towards supporting low income residents who are being pushed out of the city and away from amenities, jobs, their families and transit.

A College Park resident stood to speak and held up a gallon of brown tainted water from her kitchen sink.

Flash back to 2015, the City of Raleigh developed a Neighborhood Revitalization Plan for College Park. Well, actually, not all of College Park, just ‘East College’ Park. The NRSA plan was submitted and approved by HUD even after several members of the community spoke out in opposition to the plan. Many felt they had not been included in the process and the plan reflected little to address the needs of the existing community.

The NRSA was eventually approved and certain things changed. For example, instead of selling off the 140+ lots land bank by the City over the last 20 years 50/50 for affordable verses market rate, they agreed to do a 60/40 split to increase the affordability of the houses. Still, almost two years after the NRSA was started, very few long term Southeast Raleigh residents know about the opportunity to buy back into a revitalized community. 

Raleigh has given such a small amount of resources to the community development and  people development over the years that this lack of accumulated interest cannot be disconnect from the results we’re seeing today with crime and drugs, especially with our youth.

Some time in 2016 there was another community meeting where the City discussed the infrastructure for ‘East College Park’ and the City decided they would not provide new water and sewage pipes to all of College Park, only for ‘East College Park’. Community opposition from long term tax paying residents was strong because people were concerned that the new water and sewage piping would impact their own water supply. The City steam rolled the infrastructure plans and awarded the $5 million dollar job to the contractor TL Loving.

Fast forward to last night! A long time resident and her family the expressed outrage over the brown water in their neighborhood and how it was impacting their lives. College Park, a neighborhood created by blacks in Raleigh shortly after the end of the Civil War! A neighborhood that is filled with many fixed income seniors who are now feeling the influx of middle income new comers and their new pipes. 

She was told that the construction trucks were causing her pipes to produce the brown water. How exactly that conclusion was gathered? I would also like to know what type of issues an outside consultant would foresee when the newer and cleaner pipes are laid on the ‘East College Park’ side of one of our recently divided, most historically black neighborhoods. There will be issues as their pipes fight to keep up with the pressures of the soon to be, fast track, gentrified side of ‘East College’ Park.

How redevelopment is causing brown water in one Raleigh historically black neighborhoods 

There was a packed house at the City of Raleigh 2030 Comprehensive Planning public meeting held on June 14th at Tarboro Road Center. People from all walks of life voiced concerns over the direction the City and its current council are taking that is continuing to make Raleigh a fragmented city of the have’s and have not’s. A city where people have to literally fight for housing as “Affordable Housing” is quietly being rebranded ‘workforce housing’ for middle income new comers. As this occurs, we see less funding going towards supporting low income residents who are being pushed out of the city and away from amenities, jobs, their families and transit.

A College Park resident stood to speak and held up a gallon of brown tainted water from her kitchen sink.

Flash back to 2015, the City of Raleigh developed a Neighborhood Revitalization Plan for College Park. Well, actually, not all of College Park, just ‘East College’ Park. The NRSA plan was submitted and approved by HUD even after several members of the community spoke out in opposition to the plan. Many felt they had not been included in the process and the plan reflected little to address the needs of the existing community.

The NRSA was eventually approved and certain things changed. For example, instead of selling off the 140+ lots land bank by the City over the last 20 years 50/50 for affordable verses market rate, they agreed to do a 60/40 split to increase the affordability of the houses. Still, almost two years after the NRSA was started, very few long term Southeast Raleigh residents know about the opportunity to buy back into a revitalized community. 

Raleigh has given such a small amount of resources to the community development and  people development over the years that this lack of accumulated interest cannot be disconnect from the results we’re seeing today with crime and drugs, especially with our youth.

Some time in 2016 there was another community meeting where the City discussed the infrastructure for ‘East College Park’ and the City decided they would not provide new water and sewage pipes to all of College Park, only for ‘East College Park’. Community opposition from long term tax paying residents was strong because people were concerned that the new water and sewage piping would impact their own water supply. The City steam rolled the infrastructure plans and awarded the $5 million dollar job to the contractor TL Loving.

Fast forward to last night! A long time resident and her family the expressed outrage over the brown water in their neighborhood and how it was impacting their lives. College Park, a neighborhood created by blacks in Raleigh shortly after the end of the Civil War! A neighborhood that is filled with many fixed income seniors who are now feeling the influx of middle income new comers and their new pipes. 

She was told that the construction trucks were causing her pipes to produce the brown water. How exactly that conclusion was gathered? I would also like to know what type of issues an outside consultant would foresee when the newer and cleaner pipes are laid on the ‘East College Park’ side of one of our recently divided, most historically black neighborhoods. There will be issues as their pipes fight to keep up with the pressures of the soon to be, fast track, gentrified side of ‘East College’ Park.

The Quest to protect one of NC’s most intact Reconstruction-Era Black communities: Oberlin Village Seeks Historic Designation

Oberlin Village is one step closer to becoming a Historic District, but they have a few more steps to take before this Reconstruction-era black community receives protection from the fast pace development happening around the village.

Oberlin Village was one of Raleigh’s first freedmen communities settled by black people shortly after the Civil War and one of the State of North Carolina’s most in-tact  Reconstruction-era black communities. The 149 acres primarily consisted of farmland, where its residents eventually built churches and schools and opened businesses. 

Raleigh City Council and 24 of the 49 resident petitioners provided the organized support that will take the request to preserve what remains of  Oberlin Village to the State of North Carolina.  

Oberlin Village is seeing a lot of development and if more of the 34 remaining structures are demolished, it will make the area ineligible for the historic designation.

Time is of the essence! 

If the State approves the designation, Oberlin Village will become Raleigh’s 8th historic district among: Blount Street, Boylan Heights, Capital Square, Moores Square, Oakwood, Prince Hall and Glenwood Brooklyn. 

As reported in the News and Observer, “The council’s decision Tuesday to seek permission from the state is the first of several steps for Oberlin to become a historic district. The city will send a report on Oberlin’s history, authored by area residents, to the state Office of Archives and Cultural History for review.

Raleigh must then file for a request to rezone the area, which spans Oberlin Road about a mile north between Clark and Wade avenues.”

Raleigh North: can policing alone heal a community? 

Have you ever been driving down the highway in an older car that may need some work and feel all the newer and faster cars zooming past you as you drive to your destination?  That’s probably how a lot of people living in Raleigh North Apartments feel with all the growth and development sprouting up around them! 

Over the last week, Raleigh North residents received notice that the property manager was partnering with the Raleigh Police Department to enforce a 10pm curfew on all residents due to an increase in gang activity and crime. Some of the residents breathed a sigh of relief with hopes that their community would become a safer place to raise their family. Sounds like a win, win for those of us looking in, yet some residents were not expecting such a high level of police presence. In an hour,  visitors and residents noticed that over a dozen police patrolling the area.

Why such a high police presence in a neighborhood that serves predominately low income single mothers and their children? This is an effort by the property managers to “take back” their community and make it safer for the people who live there. The partnership with Raleigh Police Department and the owners of Raleigh North Apartments is just one way this situation can be bandaged, but it will not solve the problem. 

City resources and man hours are being spent to provide the owners of the complex a service. Tax dollars wasted? I would say yes, unless the City of Raleigh, Raleigh Police Department and Raleigh North Apartments partner with members of the community, organizations and churches by sharing resources to improve the quality of life for this community!  

What other resources can the City of Raleigh make available other than police patrol? The city recently released it’s annual budget and I have scanned it to see what resources would make a direct impact in Southeast Raleigh. Not much to say the least, compared to the annual budget that is being proposed. 

Most of the outreach services rendered in Raleigh North consist only of more Band-Aids in the form of food and clothing,  but what services are being offered to show them an alternative to lead them to a better life? 

Diana Powell and Bring Back the Village community organization has done a lot of work in Raleigh North with very limited resources.  She is leading one organization with what should be a shared purpose for us all: to give our children a chance! Diana Powell makes herself and her organization available by working to prevent gang activity with little to no support from the City of Raleigh. She is currently working on a ‘Scared Straight’ program that she hopes with awaken some of the youth from their slumber. Let’s say the program works, then what? Unless she has help from outside resources to facilitate and support positive activities of the youth, we could possibly find a continuation of the same issues rapidly progressing.

When we look at the changes happening in Southeast Raleigh right now, we all must have an honest discussion. We are leaving behind a large segment of our population who need us the most. It’s easy to give to ‘cool’ causes, but when was the last time you helped a grassroots organization, as Diana Powell like to say, that has ‘boot’s on the ground’ ? We can’t expect the problems in Raleigh North to disappear by osmosis nor can the proposed help be one sided. 

Residents also bare a great responsibility in making their own community safe and should try and make better decisions to reach this goal. It all goes back to us being honest. A lot of the single mothers come from single family homes themselves and are struggling to make ends meet. They may not always know of availabile tools to make better decisions for their families. Making the process of locating resources more accessible is a start! If the property manager is saying they need police, then the community is saying they need resources to help them reach households in Raleigh North!  

The City of Raleigh has chosen to use resources to police the community, but if would be so much more impactful if they also implemented or supported programs to reduce gang initiations or programs to show a teen a new employable skill. 

Youth who come from low income homes should have more options and activities to choose from other than what’s being offered!  

It comes down to who has the resources makes the biggest impact. The type of impact depends on the results one is seeking. By having an increase in police presence in Raleigh North, what is the end result the City of Raleigh and the owner’s wish to see?

Do they not want to see the faces of struggle, the faces of color, the faces of those who want better? Do they intend to make this an invisible community left to solve the real problems alone? Out of sight, out of mind?

The issues impacting Raleigh North is just a microcosm of what is to come as our City continues to become more and more divided by the haves and the have not’s. Yet, because our population is growing so much, we’re at a crossroads where both income spectrums meet. Some traveling in fast eco-friendly cars and some just making it from point a to point b in their older cars.

It’s our individual responsibility as well as the City of Raleigh and the Raleigh Police Department to figure out how we can holistically make this situation better for those who want it!  

There is no denying that Raleigh North has had its issue that may have measurably intensified over the last few years, but as big as those issues are, solutions should not be limited just to the police circling the block looking for people out of compliance. A balance of resources would mean one child’s opportunity to see outside their circumstance to see a better future. How can we keep an apartment complex safe as well as open up doors of opportunity for those who need it the most?