D.G. Martin

One on One: Small towns, Courts, and Independent Thinkers

“I have to vote to break a tie on town council’s votes all the time,” the mayor of a small North Carolina mountain town told a friend. “When they deadlock it is a 3 to 3 vote, with the same people always voting together.” When asked if it were a Democrat versus Republican situation, the mayor explained that political parties have nothing to do with it. “Three of them are Methodist, and the other three are Baptist. They just stick together no matter what the issue.” What denominational preference might have to do with where to put a stoplight,...

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One on One: Losing Diane Rehm

Diane Rehm’s scheduled visit to Elon University on April 6 is reminding fans of her public radio program how much they miss her since her retirement at the beginning of this year. For 37 years her morning talk show made her one of America’s most influential people. Her program attracted smart and articulate guests from diverse points of view. Her respectful, sometimes halting, questions prompted conversation that challenged her listeners to reassess their positions on important issues. When she faced a personal health battle with a rare neurological disorder, spasmodic dysphonia, something that affected her voice and threatened her...

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One on One: Reynolds Price, Small Towns, and People Estuaries

Since 2000 North Carolina has grown from about 9.5 million people to well over 10 million, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.  Most of that growth is in our urban areas while many rural areas and small towns are losing people. These facts would not please the late Reynolds Price, the great writer and Duke professor, who died in 2010. He loved our small towns. Shortly before he died, he explained in “Ardent Spirits” that when he was a Rhodes Scholar in England and in his early teaching years at Duke, he reached back to his growing-up years in...

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One on One: HB2 and Eating Together

Where are Ruby and Jack Hunt when we need them? Somebody needs to sit our political leaders down and guide them into talking to each other about how to get our state out of the HB2 mess we have made for ourselves. That is what former Cleveland County state Representative Jack Hunt and his wife, Ruby, used to do in Raleigh. I admired their ability to get people of different views together at the same table for meals and fellowship. Here is the way I described their magic meals in my new book, “North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries.” “Jack and...

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One on One: A “New” Barbecue Holiday

How about a new holiday that would support North Carolina’s “First in Freedom” slogan and, at the same time, call attention to our pride in our distinctive favorite food: barbecue? Got your attention? The Campaign for Real Barbecue, an organization led by barbecue gurus John Shelton Reed and Dan Levine, proposes to celebrate a “Wilmington Barbecue” holiday on the fourth Monday of February. Reed and Levine usually use their platform to extol the virtues of “real” North Carolina barbecue, which is meat cooked slowly over wood coals. “When so-called barbecue is cooked over gas flames,” Reed told me, “I...

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One on One: Will Trump remember Washington on Presidents’ Day?

Will President Donald Trump remember George Washington when we celebrate Presidents’ Day next week? Here is some help for him with thoughts from a column I wrote earlier. When I was growing up, February 22, Washington’s Birthday, was a major holiday. Its replacement, Presidents’ Day, just does not have the same personal connection. There are no longer cherry pies or axes to help us remember the legends of his honesty and character. Washington’s name is still everywhere.  In a general way, we remember that he was great.  Our nation’s capital is named after him.  His face is on dollar...

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One on One Emmett Till lives on

“America is still killing Emmett Till,” writes Duke professor Timothy Tyson in his new book, “The Blood of Emmett Till.” Tyson revisits the 1955 kidnapping and brutal killing of Till, a 14-year-old black youth from Chicago visiting relatives in Mississippi. At a country store, Till’s encounter with an attractive white woman broke the “color code” and prompted her husband and brother-in-law to punish him. Tyson’s book gained immediate national attention because the woman changed her version of what Emmett Till had said and done to her in the encounter that led to Till’s murder. Carolyn Bryant Donham told Tyson...

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One on One: The Wilmington Ten and the Women’s March on Washington

“The case of the Wilmington Ten amounts to one of the most egregious instances of injustice and political repression from the post–World War II black freedom struggle. It took legions of people working over the course of the 1970s to right the wrong.” These opening words from Kenneth Janken’s book, “The Wilmington Ten: Violence, Injustice, and the Rise of Black Politics in the 1970s,” alert readers to the importance of the story he tells and to the passionate viewpoint from which he writes. In today’s times of Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March on Washington, why is the...

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