D.G. Martin

One on One: Re-imagined

Sometimes fiction is a better teacher than history books or newspaper columns, and a powerful new novel set in Pinewood, North Carolina — a fictional modern foothills town — proves the point. “No One Is Coming to Save Us” by North Carolina native and Lehigh University associate professor Stephanie Powell Watts has been cast as a re-imagining of “The Great Gatsby” in a new setting. But its great strength is a rich portrayal of an extended African-American family. Family members deal with the town’s economic decline as its furniture manufacturing base fades away. The legacy of segregation and racism complicates...

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One on One: The Best Step is a Step Back

If Charles Robert Jenkins were still around, we could ask him about how to best deal with North Korea. Jenkins, in case you don’t remember, was the soldier from Rich Square, North Carolina, who spent 40 years in that country after deserting across the border while serving in the U.S. Army in South Korea. Before he died last month, he told Los Angeles Times writer Jonathan Kaiman the lesson he learned from his time there. “I don’t put nothing past North Korea. North Korea could to do anything. North Korea don’t care.” “Ain’t nobody live good in North Korea....

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One on One: We Need Another Monument

We need another monument. Maybe, instead of taking down monuments to our past, we should be building new ones. No, I am not suggesting that we fill the courthouse squares with more images of Confederate soldiers. However, I am thinking of a need for different monuments to remind us that we cannot run from our history or pretend that it does not exist, monuments that make us better for the future by showing mistakes of our predecessors, especially the horrible ones we wish had not existed. Recent news reports reminded us that Germans and American southerners have something in...

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One on One: Asking for a Bitcoin This Year?

Are you hoping that someone will give you a Bitcoin for Christmas this year? Or do you think it might be a perfect gift for you to give to someone else? It is, you think, a gift that would keep on giving. With its price rising every day, you may not be wrong. But, back when I was growing up, there was another miracle gift. It seemed to grow in value each day, and had potential to be the perfect gift that would only go up in price and make everybody rich. Back then, it was chinchillas. Much like...

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One on One: Good Books for the Folks You Forgot

You forgot somebody, didn’t you? Somebody who is expecting a present from you? Now, remembering this person, you have no idea what to give. Here are some thoughts for last-minute gifts drawn from my recent reading. At the top of your list of books for your friends who are public policy or history nerds should be two North Carolina authors whose books recently made the list of The New York Times’s 100 Notable Books of 2017. Charlotte native Graham Allison’s “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?” puts the dangers in the U.S.-China dynamic relationship in understandable...

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One on One: Learning from Alabama

What could we North Carolinians learn about ourselves when we sort out the results of the December 12 Alabama special U. S. Senate election? Nothing, you say. We are not like Alabama. They are Deep South. We are mid-South. They are mired in their George Wallace ”Stuck in the mud” tradition while we North Carolinians have thrived in our Terry Sanford ”New South” progressive tradition. Not so fast. Remember when those traditions clashed in 1972? Wallace and Sanford faced each other in the Democratic presidential primary in North Carolina. Wallace beat Sanford by more than 100,000 votes, effectively ending...

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One on One: A Lesson From My Toppled Hero

Stunned. North Carolina lost another monument. It came like a flash. And I am still reeling. Charlie Rose was one of North Carolina’s nationally best-known and most admired people. He was right up there with Michael Jordan, Billy Graham and the late Andy Griffith, as someone that people in the rest of the country know and admire. After stating that North Carolina had given to the world giants of 20th Century journalism Edward R. Murrow, David Brinkley, and Charles Kuralt, the “Moon Guidebook to North Carolina” says, “Charlie Rose carries their torch today.” Like these predecessor giants, Rose brought...

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One on One: A Historic Life

Does the life of a Jewish woman who was born, lived, and died in the same house in Goldsboro have lessons for today’s historians? The answer is yes, lots of lessons, which is certainly one of the reasons that the newly published UNC Press book, “Gertrude Weil: Jewish Progressive in the New South,” by Leonard Rogoff, won this year’s Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction given by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. Weil’s father and his brothers immigrated to the United States from German Bavaria a few years before the American Civil War. In Goldsboro, these German-Jewish...

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One on One: Across State Lines

A message from Virginia for Democrats: Fight Trump, not each other. North Carolina is not Virginia, and 2017 is not 2018 or 2020. But North Carolina Democrats and Republicans still watched what happened in our neighboring state’s elections last week for clues about next year’s elections in our state. Although they are different states, there are similarities. Arguably, Virginia and North Carolina are more like each other than either is to any other state. They are about the same size geographically (VA 42,770 square miles; NC 53,820) and population wise (VA about 8.5 million people; NC about 10 million)....

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One on One: Bad Ideas for the UNC System

What is the worst idea floating around about the UNC system these days? Jesse White, who headed up the Southern Growth Policies Board and also served adjunct professor of government and city and regional planning at UNC-Chapel Hill, has an answer. “Political meddling with academic institutions is a dangerous business,” he wrote in the Raleigh News & Observer on November 4. Indeed, the legislature and the UNC Board of Governors have frightened the public education community with a series of actions and proposals regarding university activities and funding. Jesse White writes, “The connection between the highly partisan General Assembly...

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