Letters to the Editor

U.S. Rep G.K. Butterfield remembers black pioneering civil rights lawyer William Marsh Jr.

Marsh was a role model

Editor’s note: U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) released this statement on the passing on Monday of William A. “Billy” Marsh, Jr., a civil rights attorney in Durham:

Billy Marsh was a pioneering leader in our community, using his legal training to champion civil rights here and across the state. He was a key figure in school desegregation cases in Durham County and surrounding areas.

Billy was a man of high distinction who dedicated his career to fighting for civil rights. He is an inspiration to today’s leaders, and I was, and will remain, honored to have shared in friendship with him. I wish to express my deepest condolences to his wife, Bernice, his children, his extended family, and his friends.

Marsh was born and raised in Durham and graduated from N.C. Central University and the NCCU School of Law. He was the first black chairman of the Durham County Board of Elections, as well as the first black chairman of the N.C. Board of Elections. In 1957, he served as legal counsel to the “Royal Ice Cream Seven,” Durham civil rights activists who defied a city ordinance denying them service on the “white” side of a popular local shop. The case took place three years before the more famous Greensboro sit-ins. He was also central to the school desegregation proceedings for Durham’s school system.

He served as general counsel to the Mechanics and Farmers Bank, Mutual Community Savings Bank, and UDI Community Development Corp. Marsh was also a pioneer in establishing the N.C. Association of Black Lawyers, where he served as president in 1975. His civil rights work has been recognized by the N.C. Bar Association Hall of Fame, and in 2012, he was inducted into the General Practice Hall of Fame, which honors lawyers “who have made significant contributions to the cause of justice.

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield

First Congressional District

A bad military analogy

The U.S. defense secretary defended the use of active troops on the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that in some ways it provides “good training for war” and is analogous to a 1916 deployment to counter the Mexican revolutionary general, Francisco “Pancho” Villa.

Villa had attacked Columbus, New Mexico, and killed 19 people at dawn. He fled back to Mexico, and in retaliation President Woodrow Wilson sent Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing who could not find him during a whole year; by then World War 1 had started and Pershing was sent to Europe. Totally different analogy.

Is our U.S. military going to shoot civilians and mothers with children? I am a former U.S. military medic trained at Fort Bragg N.C. and taught to shoot M16 rifles from a foxhole (this was part of obligatory training.) Needless to say the only weapons at my home are my wife’s kitchen knives.

Juan J. Alva


The new teen smoking

According to the Food & Drug Administration, last year more than 2 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. This poses an enormous and avoidable health risk to teens in the United States. Some evidence even links e-cigarette use to alcohol use and other substance use, such as marijuana and cocaine.

Why should we care? It is important to prevent harm to youth and young adults from e-cigarettes – a public health disaster. We, currently know more than enough to act to protect the health of our young people. Everyone has a role, including the government.

What steps should the government take to stop sales of e-cigarettes to minors? First, state and local governments should consider imposing taxes on these products to discourage teen use. Second, aggressive media campaigns must educate our youth on the harms of the products. Manufacturers should pay a specific percentage of their profits or sales into a fund that would be used to fund this media campaign.

The Bottom line? Tobacco addiction among youth is going down; however, don’t be fooled because big tobacco companies are becoming big vaping companies. They need a replacement additive product. The FDA is right. E-cigarette use is indeed an epidemic and our teens are the target.

Fatima Guerrab


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