D.G. Martin

She’ll be thanking him in November

If Hillary Clinton is elected president in November, her very first thank-you should go to Bernie Sanders. “What?” you ask. “How could she thank Sanders when his vigorous campaign took people away from her natural and expected support groups– progressive women, young African Americans, and other liberals? “He is smearing her for the Clintons’ ties to big banking and big business. And for her earlier support of international trade agreements that are so unpopular with some workers’ groups. “And,” you assert, “he is pushing her too far to the left on positions that will hurt her with moderate or...

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A Firebrand North Carolinian and the President’s Wife

One more question before we forget about the black history month just ended: How did President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1938 visit to the University of North Carolina lead to a long friendship between the president’s wife and a young North Carolina African American woman? In 1938 in Chapel Hill, Roosevelt made a speech praising UNC for its excellence and progressiveness. In the same year, Pauli Murray’s application to the UNC graduate school was denied because she was African American. She wrote Roosevelt a fiery letter criticizing him for his praise of an institution that did not admit blacks, asking what...

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Would a name change be enough?

Should Fayetteville State University, the state’s oldest public HBCU (historically black college or university), change its name to the University of North Carolina at Fayetteville? Last week The Fayetteville Observer reported that the name change was being considered in the General Assembly. The proposed name change drew mixed reactions from the school’s alumni and students. Some, like Raymond Privott, president of FSU’s National Alumni Association, think the change would diminish its heritage. Others, like Curtis Worthy, president of the Cumberland County alumni chapter, are open to change. According to The Fayetteville Observer, he said, “Things do change. We need...

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Lee Smith’s best story yet

Lee Smith’s upcoming book, “Dimestore: A Writer’s Life,” tells her best story yet. After publishing 13 novels and numerous short stories that have won for her a passionately loyal group of fans and friends, the best-selling Hillsborough author has written a memoir, her first non-fiction book. It turns out that the real stories she tells are even better than the wonderful ones she has told in her novels and short stories. Her descriptions of the real characters in her life are, like her fictional characters, compelling. When “Dimestore” comes out in a few weeks, it will open the door...

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Discarding unelectable candidates, but holding on to their supporters’ enthusiasm

The trick to winning elections, old political warhorses say, is to rally the enthusiasm of the young, the idealistic, and the angry crazies, without getting stuck with a presidential candidate who cannot be stomached by the voters in the middle, the persuadables who decide elections. The Democrats found such a candidate in 2008 in Barack Obama. The Republicans did the trick with Ronald Reagan in 1980. But those successes are rare. More often, when a party’s presidential candidate is out of the mainstream, many of that party’s candidates in North Carolina and other states lose races they would otherwise...

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Coughs and sneezes about campus monuments and names

“When America catches a cold, Britain sneezes — eventually.” Writing in The New York Times, Matthew d’Ancona, a graduate of Britain’s Oxford University and columnist for British papers, The Guardian and The Daily Evening Standard, reported, “The argument about the proper limits of free speech and ‘political correctness’ that has raged for years on American campuses has arrived at British universities with a vengeance.” According to D’Ancona, there is a fierce debate at Oxford about a campaign to remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes from the campus of Oriel College, a part of the university. Rhodes made a fortune...

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Cultural Competency not just for journalists

Last week, as the story of African American protests over the absence of black nominees for Academy Awards was developing, Sam Fulwood explained what he learned reporting the 1992 Los Angeles riots that broke out after a jury found the police officers accused of beating Rodney King not guilty. Covering a newly created “race beat,” Fulwood reported the public reaction to the King story. Blacks and whites, he found, saw the story in dramatically different ways, with blacks sympathizing with King and whites finding ways to minimize any police misconduct. It is the same story over and over again,...

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Yard signs and State of the Union speeches: Wasted efforts?

They are a waste of time, don’t change anybody’s mind, and have little or no impact on the outcome of elections or the support of a politician. Does this comment describe the impact of political yard signs on elections or the effectiveness of speeches, such as President Obama’s State of the Union message last week? Or both? A study on yard signs in political campaigns, co-authored by High Point University professor Dr. Brandon Lenoir, “shows political lawn signs have little effect on votes in a political race and no effect on turnout,” according to a university release. Professor Lenoir...

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Help me explain my love for homecooking eateries

My upcoming book about local, home cooking places near North Carolina’s Interstate highways has a title, “North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints.” And, it has a new challenge to meet before the publisher, UNC Press, releases it this fall. My editors want me to revise my introduction to follow some suggestions from a careful reader who said he wanted “to hear D.G.’s voice more in the introduction,” including “where has he been in life and where is he going that brings him back again and again to these down home spots.”...

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European history lessons for North Carolinians

What does a new 800-page history of 20th Century Europe have to do with North Carolina politics of the 21st Century? First, a few words about the book itself, “Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century,” by UNC-Chapel Hill Professor Konrad Jarausch. The book describes what happened in Europe during the 100 years beginning in 1900, when France and England controlled much of the non-European world, and the empires of Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary ruled much of the European continent. It then takes its readers through two brutal and disastrous world wars. What followed...

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