D.G. Martin

Summer reading and lessons about campus names and renaming

What can Yale University teach UNC-Chapel Hill and other universities about naming and renaming college buildings and programs? What does Yale’s solution have to do with North Carolina and one of the books I recommend for early summer reading? Yale divides its undergraduates into separate colleges, where they live and eat together over four years. The colleges are named after important historical figures with some connection to Yale. For instance, Calhoun College is named for Yale alumnus John C. Calhoun, a vice president of the U.S. during the presidency of Andrew Jackson and a brilliant defender of slavery. Because...

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Groping and hoping: Why John Hart is so good and why the latest book took so long to write

Can’t we just find something that we can agree upon? Thrown into a silly unnecessary bathroom dispute that has brought unwelcome international attention, good North Carolinians of all ideological, religious, and political persuasions would like to have something that brings them together. It happens on May 3 with the release of John Hart’s latest literary thriller, “Redemption Road.” Residents of Hart’s hometown get the jump on the rest of us this Saturday (April 30) when he returns to Salisbury to talk about his book and distribute copies to old friends. Hart flashed onto the literary scene about 10 years...

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Fire in Fayetteville leaves a gap in Chapel Hill

Why did a fire in Fayetteville cause a panic in Chapel Hill? When I got word about the April 9 fire that destroyed the Haymont Grill in Fayetteville, a little bit of me got destroyed, too. The Grill was a few blocks away from a house at 1805 Bragg Blvd., into which I and seven other lieutenants had stuffed ourselves while we were stationed at Fort Bragg in the early 1960s. The Grill became our favorite eating place, in part because Pete Skenteris, the longtime owner, took care of us. In early 2015, he told Chick Jacobs of the...

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Like actors, putting ourselves in the shoes of others

How hard is it for a white person to really understand the black experience well enough not to get into trouble when speaking about hot-button matters of community concern? Ask Hillary Clinton. Or ask her husband, the former president. Both have spent their lives working to improve the economic conditions of blacks and to increase the opportunities available to them. They take pride in their close associations with African Americans. But, when it comes to talking about race, they have proved that anybody can get into trouble. It makes one wonder why a white author like North Carolina native...

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Why it’s basketball, not politics, on our minds

Get used to it! Even though we are in the middle of a national election contest with choices so varied, so unusual, so important, and with a possible result that would stretch the traditions of American democracy… Even though terrorist movements challenge our security and the human values important to most Americans and threaten to overturn hopes for a world of tolerance and peace… Even though we have been jarred, locally, by rushed and heavy-handed legislation that flaunts the American tradition of openness and acceptance of different peoples and different ideas… Even with all that, what we want to...

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Tracing the cause of discontent to some demagogue

Have you had enough of presidential candidates flying in and out of North Carolina looking for primary votes? Wouldn’t it be nice if they came to see us after the election, like our first president, George Washington, who visited North Carolina soon after he took office? Thanks to a new book by Warren Bingham, “George Washington’s 1791 Southern Tour,” we can follow that trip traveling in Washington’s shoes. The new book explains that the president of the new country wanted to visit the different regions to promote unity after the recent bitter battles over adoption of the Constitution had...

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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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