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D.G. Martin

A 60s Radical Returns, With Conservative Allies

Howard Fuller was back in North Carolina last week promoting his new book,  No Struggle, No Progress: A Warrior’s Life from Black Power to Education Reform. Fuller is a professor of education and director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University. Some North Carolinians remember Fuller as a community organizer in the 1960s and 70s. He led poor people to demand fair treatment, to work together to improve their lives, and to stand up to the establishment at every turn. He led marches and founded Malcolm X Liberation University in Durham and Greensboro. His efforts...

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North Carolina’s Last Liberal 

What was the greatest political upset in North Carolina political history? Old timers will tell you that it was Kerr Scott’s victory in the Democratic primary for governor in 1948. Scott, a dairy farmer from Alamance County, beat the favored candidate of the conservative wing of the party. Once in office, he adopted a liberal program of road paving, public school improvement, and expansion of government services. Hard-working and hardheaded, plain and direct spoken, he appointed women and African Americans to government positions. He disregarded criticism of his actions. Future governors Terry Sanford and Jim Hunt were inspired by...

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Mountain Music: Where It Came From, Where It’s Going

As the International Bluegrass Music Association’s five-day “World of Bluegrass Festival” wound down in Raleigh a few days ago, some people were still asking: where did bluegrass music come from, anyway? North Carolinians have a quick and certain answer: It came out of the hills and hollows of our Appalachian region. And where did that mountain music come from? We know that much of the music of the Appalachians is, like its residents, descended from the British Isles. We know that some of the tunes and words have survived almost intact, like the famous ballad “Barbara Allen.” And we...

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A More Interesting Senate Race, In Fiction

While you are watching U.S. Senate campaign television ads, occasionally interrupted by brief segments of programming, do you ever wonder what goes on inside the candidates’ campaign organizations? For instance, what if you could take on the role as the top aide to an incumbent North Carolina U.S. senator running for reelection against a top state official who has a full war chest of campaign funds? Interesting? Challenging? A new novel, Billy Bowater, by Winston-Salem civic leader E. C. “Redge” Hanes is a fictional version of such a campaign. William Walpole Bowater III, the book’s central character, is chief...

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North Carolina’s Scottish Connection

Did North Carolinians have a stake in the outcome of last week’s referendum in Scotland? Maybe not the same kind of stake the residents of Scotland had, but our ties to that land are so close, so important, and so contemporary that perhaps we should have been entitled to vote on the question of its independence from the United Kingdom. New evidence of our enduring ties to Scotland comes in a few days with UNC Press’s release of Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia by Scotland’s Fiona Ritchie and North Carolina’s Doug Orr. Ritchie...

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New Lessons From Old Wars

At the end of a two-day conference about World War I at UNC-Chapel Hill, I asked a leading military historian what approach he would recommend to the United States to deal with the challenge of ISIS. I will tell you about his response in a minute. The World War I conference was one of a series of planned events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of that Great War and to learn what lessons might help us deal with present day challenges. There are plenty of such lessons, according to the series coordinator, UNC-CH’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities:...

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“Most Moderate” And “Kay”: Do Words Make A Difference?

First of all, a warning: I am a Democrat. You cannot trust a partisan commentator to give an objective report on a political contest such as a debate between candidates for the United States Senate. Now that you’ve been warned, here are two observations about last week’s first debate between current Senator Kay Hagan and her challenger, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. 1. Who is the “most moderate?” Hagan’s repeated assertion that she is the most moderate U.S. senator obviously has been a theme tested by her experts in focus groups and polls. Moderation is a good approach...

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A Letter From Home

It was like the pleasure of a long letter from home. At least it was for this exile from Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. I picked up the new book, 27 Views of Charlotte: The Queen City in Prose & Poetry, to see if any of my friends were among the almost 30 contributors. But when I started reading, I could not stop until I had read every selection, beginning with Jack Clairborne’s cheerful summary of Charlotte’s efforts to become a “world class city,” concluding that the key to its success has been its openness. “You don’t have to come...

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A Non-Lawyer On The Supreme Court?

President Obama plans to appoint National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg to the United States Supreme Court. Not really, of course. Totenberg may know more than most lawyers about the Supreme Court from her experience as an award-winning legal affairs correspondent for NPR. But she is not a lawyer, and you have to be a lawyer to be on the court. Don’t you? No. The Constitution sets forth no such requirement. Article Two provides simply that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … Judges of the supreme Court.” So the president...

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Remembering The Negro Leagues

“He is number 42,” I said. On a baseball outing with my daughter’s family the other night, I was trying to find the name of a player on the Durham Bulls baseball team while the Bulls were playing a doubleheader against the Buffalo Bison. The player list in the game program did not show a number 42. Then I noticed another player wearing number 42, and then another. Every player was wearing number 42. Why? I should have remembered 42, last year’s film about Jackie Robinson. Number 42 was on Robinson’s uniform when he first played for the Brooklyn...

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