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D.G. Martin

Remembering Franklin McCain

When Franklin McCain died last week, I remembered how often his acts and his words inspired me. McCain was one of the four North Carolina A&T State University students who first sat down in 1960 at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro and quietly asked to be served, sparking a wave of sit-ins across the country. I remembered his talk in 1998 at an event marking the 38th anniversary of those sit-ins. I expected a fiery oration, one that was totally critical of our country’s record on civil rights. But what I heard, at the beginning, was more like...

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Ninety Is The New Sixty

Famed Chapel Hill author Elizabeth Spencer has proved a North Carolina rule again. “Ninety is the new 60.” Or 50. Spencer, like academic leader William Friday and historian John Hope Franklin a few years earlier, shows that the nineties can be incredibly productive years. The evidence in Spencer’s case is her latest book of short fiction, Starting Over, which was released on January 1st. Spencer is 92. Six of the book’s nine stories were written by her in the last three years, proving that her talents and work ethic are still strong. Spencer is best known, perhaps, for her...

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Two Important Political Leaders Not To Forget

When politics is the topic, there is always more to talk about. So it is with the book on North Carolina politics that was the subject of a recent column. I keep going back to East Carolina University Professor Tom Eamon’s The Making of a Southern Democracy: North Carolina Politics from Kerr Scott to Pat McCrory. Why does the book keep drawing me back to it? One reason is its positive attention to political figures whose contributions have sometimes been underrated. For instance, Dan K. Moore, whose service as governor from 1965 through 1969 is, according to Eamon, often...

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How We Got Where We Are At In North Carolina Politics

Just in time for the new year, a new book puts modern North Carolina politics in perspective. The Making of a Southern Democracy: North Carolina Politics from Kerr Scott to Pat McCrory, by East Carolina University Professor Tom Eamon, covers North Carolina and its politics from 1948 through last year’s election. These 65-plus years have been transformative for our state in many ways: socially, economically, educationally, and politically. It is the politics that Eamon seeks to explain. But the social and economic changes drove many of the political changes. So did national political changes. By bringing all these factors...

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New Books For Holiday Giving And Viewing

Are you missing the right gifts for some important people on your shopping list? There is help from some of the best and most popular North Carolina-connected storytellers, whose new books might be lifesavers for you. And your gift recipient can watch the author talk about the book in the next few weeks on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. Viewers with access to UNC-TV’s digital channel UNC-MX can preview the program on the preceding Friday at 9 p.m. Here are a few suggestions: Some are saying that Lee Smith’s new novel, Guests...

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A Better Way in Germany

Should we look to Germany for a better way to organize our government? Our parents and grandparents from the “Greatest Generation” would be shocked at the idea that the country they fought so hard to defeat would have the kind of representative and effective government that any American would want to copy. But let’s look at what has happened in the aftermath of the recent national elections in both countries. In our country, the two major political parties battled it out, electing a president from the Democratic Party and a divided legislative body. While the Electoral College results gave Democrat Barak Obama a decisive (332-206) victory, the reported popular vote was much closer: 65,915,796 to 60,933,500, or 51.1 percent to 47.2 percent. The House of Representatives’ total popular vote, although much closer, also favored the Democrats by 59,967,096 votes to 58,523,501 votes for Republican candidates, or 48.9 percent to 47.7 percent. Nevertheless, the Republicans won a decisive victory in the number of seats, 234 to 201 for Democrats. The closeness of the U.S. popular vote last year showed Americans sharply divided on which political party they would choose to lead their government. But it would be hard to argue that they intended to favor the confrontational governmental logjam that resulted from their vote. Americans are rightfully proud of the complicated system of checks and balances the drafters of our...

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Where is Waldo? Where is Wolfe?

Do people in North Carolina remember Thomas Wolfe, their once famous son, author of Look Homeward, Angel, whose books helped many of us get through the transformation from childhood to adulthood and opened the door to an appreciation of fine writing? Do his words still inspire new writers to open their mental guts and spill out their words and stories? For answers to those questions, I decided to play a “Where’s Waldo?” type game and look for Wolfe in recent North Carolina-related books to see if I could find any evidence of his continuing influence. In What I Came...

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Who Can Forget?

Where were you when you heard that President Kennedy had been shot? Most Americans who were alive on Friday afternoon, November 22, 1963, can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they got the awful news. For others, the question is as puzzling as a question about President William McKinley’s assassination in 1901 would have been to us in the 1960s. I remember that early afternoon when I was playing volleyball with fellow members of the 801st Intelligence Detachment at the corner of the area on Fort Bragg’s Smoke Bomb Hill assigned to the...

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Climbing a New Mountain Peak

“Life is like a mountain range,” Ping Fu told a group of UNC-Chapel Hill students last week. Fu is the founder of Geomagic, Inc., which developed the computer code that made 3-D printing possible. Earlier this year, she sold Geomagic to Spartanburg, S. C., based 3D Systems Corp., a manufacturer of 3-D printing machines, for a reported $55 million. Three-dimensional printing makes it possible to duplicate an object with the same ease that a laser printer copies a page from a book. It is changing the way we think about manufacturing. Using the proper computer directions for a 3-D...

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Lessons from Disney World for Obamacare

What does Disney World have to do with Obamacare? There is an answer, but you will have to read on a little bit to get there. First, there is this grandfather’s testimonial about a wonderful experience at Disney World last week. Watching grandchildren experience the magic of the Disney kingdom was a treat of a lifetime. Fun and exciting rides, a realistic safari experience, a rocket ship trip to Mars, a dramatic flight over California, a Star Wars space flight dodging the forces of the Empire and more. But it did not start out that way. At the check-in...

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