Save the sign
In my adopted city Durham, when I feel overwhelmed by ugliness, I look up. Looking up lifts me up.
When I look up I see NC Mutual Life on one of Durham’s high hills. It reminds me that the impossible is possible. That our city skyline has something unique … unlike any America city. We have a skyscraper of African American uplift and Black Pride, a beacon that shines every night.
Built in 1964 this building symbolized Black business success. The holiday parties of the NC Mutual Life Company were legendary. In 1935 Duke Ellington created “In a Sentimental Mood” during one of those parties to cheer up a guest in a tricky romantic situation. Years after the glory days of NC Mutual Life, after the company downsized from the building, they gave their archives to NCCU’s library to preserve a vital piece of American and Durham history.
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So now the private owners of the building plan to take the NC Mutual Life letters off the building to “rebrand” it as the Legacy tower. Or perhaps the naming rights of the building are for sale.
Private owners may do what they like with their buildings. And yet, I wonder why the Liggett-Meyers sign has been freshened up on the Chesterfield building. All the bronze plaques on those buildings shine. The plaques and billboard preserve the history of a company that created solid jobs in Durham and yet this company also sold disease and painful deaths with their products.
Why is this company a proud part of downtown (the Lucky Strike tower, the tobacco warehouses, the Liggett Meyers billboard, the lighted “Bull” billboard, and our beloved Bull mascot) while the remaining symbol of the NC Mutual Life Company (its sign) is slated to come down? I wonder what are we keeping monuments to.
I will not be among those calling for the GOP to do the right thing when it comes to fair redistricting. I do not intend to waste my breath. It is past time to accept the GOP as the cheaters they are. The same cheaters that used rigged, racist maps to get elected are now in charge of new maps which they will use to secure their power further. Why would we expect anything else?
The GOP is the party of: HB2, denying Medicaid expansion, sabotaging public schools, hog farm pollution, voter suppression, and racist gerrymandering. It bears repeating: they are the party that denies basic rights to transgendered North Carolinians, that denies health care to the poor, that denies equitable education to kids, that denies us safe air and water, that denies the vote via purging rolls, limiting early voting, and making false voter fraud claims.
They are the party that diluted the votes of people of color in order to secure power. Now they have introduced legislation that makes it OK to run over protesters. So why expect them to make an ethical choice now? This is the party that justifies its abuse of democracy by claiming that Democrats used similar tactics 40 years ago, the same “he did it first” defense parents don’t allow their kindergartners to use. They are choking the life out of our democracy.
The GOP has shown time and again that they choose greed and power over people and democracy. So if you are hoping for a different outcome, don’t hold your breath.
President Trump’s shameful decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program puts the futures of 800,000 young Americans at risk. This callous decision isn’t just a betrayal of “DREAMers” in North Carolina and across the country; it is a betrayal of the very idea of the American dream. These young people were brought to our country without their consent and have known no other country as their own. They are our neighbors, our classmates, our colleagues, and members of our Armed Services. They pledge allegiance to our flag, pay our taxes, and contribute to our economy.
President Trump has said repeatedly that he would treat DREAMers with “great heart.” While we have become accustomed to his broken promises, this may be his most heartless decision yet.
Make no mistake: this week’s announcement was driven entirely by cynical political calculations, not by any constitutional or legal requirement. But now that the decision has been made, Congress must act to fix it. In 2010, I voted with my colleagues in the House to pass the DREAM Act, only to see Senate Republicans defeat the measure. House leadership must bring the DREAM Act, or equivalent legislation, back to the floor for a vote without delay. We must protect these families from the anguish and suffering inflicted by the Trump Administration’s mass deportation agenda.
U.S. Rep. David Price
As a member of the UNC Board of Governors and an African-American, I am offended by the Confederate monument on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus known as Silent Sam and the shameful history associated with it dating back to its dedication. I know that Chancellor Folt would remove the statue if she could, and for that reason I cannot remain silent while the editorial “More souring on Sam, but where is Folt?” (N&O, Sep. 2) unfairly impugns her reputation and leadership on this issue. It is useful to review the guidance Chancellor Folt received from President Spellings, university attorneys and the Board of Governors.
On Aug. 15, the university’s general counsel wrote that a state law passed in 2015 bars state agencies, including the university, from permanently removing any object of remembrance – defined as a “monument, memorial, plaque, statue, marker, or display of a permanent character that commemorates an event, person or military service that is part of North Carolina’s history.”
On Aug. 18, President Margaret Spellings wrote the Board of Governors that “neither the Board of Governors nor the institutions have the authority to independently remove the statute,” and that the law requires authorization of the N.C. Historical Commission to move a state monument.
On Aug. 21, Gov. Roy Cooper offered a tortured reading of the statute in a letter to President Spellings, writing that “[i]f our University leaders believe there is real risk to public safety, the law allows them to take immediate measures” to remove Silent Sam under the authority of “building inspectors or similar officials.” Even if the governor’s interpretation of the statute were correct, however, the required condition that the governor said was necessary to remove the statue, “a real risk to public safety,” never occurred.
On Aug. 24, our Board of Governors chairman wrote, “I can confirm that we do not believe that Chapel Hill can act unilaterally.”
One might ask, “Where is the attorney general?” It is telling that the state’s leading law enforcement official has not supported the governor’s position, nor has he weighed in with his own analysis. Despite Chancellor Folt’s strong personal denunciations of the sentiments represented by Silent Sam and her exemplary record related to civil rights issues, she was unfairly attacked for failing to do what state law prohibits and unilaterally remove the statue.
William A. Webb
UNC Board of Governors
No more ugly buildings
Many, including this writer, appreciate Julie McClintock’s column about the “Blue Hill Area,” formerly known as the “Ephesus-Fordham” area (“Still time for Chapel Hill to avoid planning mistakes of Houston,” The Herald-Sun, Aug. 31).
As Ms. McClintock points out, “Blue Hill” happens to be in a flood plain, and, furthermore, it is worth noting that there are no hills, despite the new name given to the area. What kind of thinking is going on here? We don’t need unrestrained development in such a low-lying area.
There is already one ugly building on “Blue Hill,” and we don’t need any more.
Come to the Chapel Hill Town Council meeting Sept. 27 and express your thoughts about the travesty this represents.
Tragic Texas photos
The news and photos from south Texas are tragic. Adding to that tragedy is that 80 percent of those affected had no flood insurance.
I wonder if Democrats in Congress will prescribe the same fix as they wrote into Obamacare – everyone can now buy flood insurance once they are flooded.