D.G. Martin

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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One on One: Any Home for the Political Middle?

“The bottom has fallen out of the Republican Party.” So wrote Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram columnist Cynthia Allen last week. “Well,” she continued, “not the bottom exactly. More like the middle.” She was writing about Texas, where the far right-wingers are driving moderates out of the party.  “So-called Republican ‘moderates’ have been living on borrowed time. They are vestiges of an era when compromise was a hallmark of good policymaking.” She had harsher words for Texas Democrats, who, she said, “drove out every member of their party who didn’t adopt the agenda of the far left.” If Allen lived in North Carolina,...

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One on One: Rewriting History

Don’t worry about the monuments coming down. There is more. People are rewriting our history. Some folks who oppose taking down Civil War monuments argue that such actions would destroy important history. Meanwhile, a group of prominent North Carolina historians are revising our state’s history, and they are doing it proudly. “New Voyages to Carolina: Reinterpreting North Carolina History,” was published this month by UNC Press. Several years ago the volume’s editors, Larry Tise and Jeffrey Crow, both former directors of North Carolina’s Division of Archives and History, concluded,  “We need a new narrative for North Carolina’s history!” Crow...

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One on One: Moral Mondays

Is the Rev. William Barber, leader of North Carolina’s Moral Monday protests, going to take the movement to the rest of the country? Beginning in 2013, the Goldsboro minister has led demonstrations at the state’s legislative building and in other state offices and properties. The groups he led often used civil disobedience to protest against actions that he said resulted in unfair treatment, discrimination, voting suppression, damage to the environment, unfair taxes, and cuts to public education. Next year, as he explained in a lecture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last week, he plans a...

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One on One: A Lost College Still Shines

What is North Carolina’s best-known and most influential college? It might be an institution that went out of business 60 years ago, Black Mountain College. Still today, educators praise and criticize the college’s progressive and collaborative approach. In 2015, Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art’s exhibit, titled “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957,” celebrated the college’s “cultural force long felt” and the “school’s ethos, in which experience was the basis of knowledge, and objects were not fixed things, but mirrors of their environment, the result of action and experimentation.” A book being released this week opens the door to understanding...

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One on One: The Dream-Wrecking Hurricane of 1935

Why did the powerful hurricane Irma get me thinking about the football stadium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill? Think Kenan Memorial Stadium, where the Tar Heels play football and Kenan-Flagler, the name of UNC’s business school. What did these names have to do with the hurricane that attacked the Florida Keys on September 10? Folks in Florida are surrounded by the Flagler name. On streets, statues, colleges, museums, counties, it seems to be everywhere. All these Flagler connections honor the legendary Henry Flagler. At the turn of the last century, he transformed Florida’s East Coast...

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One on One: Four Books, Four Struggles

Could a miracle hair straightening ignite a deadly epidemic? Can a scientist persuade you that the findings of his discipline show the existence of God? Can the research and experience of a young woman struggling to have a child provide aid and comfort to others in the same struggle? Can a best-selling author of legal thrillers change genres and write a successful literary thriller? Four books I suggest for your October reading will provide answers to these questions. When UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch opens its new season in October, it will feature all of these books. One of the...

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One on One: Recapturing The Dream of College

At your age, could you go back to college and get some of the experiences that you missed? It would be a dream come true for some of us. Or a nightmare, like the dreams I still have of being in college, unprepared for an upcoming final exam. Putting aside the exams, experiencing some of the best teachers give their careful, interesting and entertaining classes is an idea that excites me. Such experiences are increasingly available. On Saturday, September 23, The News & Observer is sponsoring a “One Day University” in Raleigh that features lectures by four nationally-known university...

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