D.G. Martin

One on One: Today’s Public Intellectuals

Billy Graham’s death and memorial service brought back memories of a column I wrote about North Carolina’s public intellectuals 16 years ago. I had noticed a book by Richard A. Posner titled “Public Intellectuals: A Study In Decline.” In his book, Posner listed the country’s top 100 public intellectuals, which made me wonder who should be on a list of North Carolina’s top public intellectuals. The only North Carolinian on the list was the late John Hope Franklin, Duke University’s renowned historian of the African-American experience. What is a public intellectual? I defined the term as follows: He or...

Read More

One on One: Billy Graham & BBQ

Billy Graham loved Bridges barbecue in Shelby, his family’s friend Sally Pereira told Charlotte Observer reporter Bruce Henderson for an article about Graham’s private life and common touch. Other North Carolinians sing the praises of Bridges, too. Famed novelist Ron Rash, when asked about his favorite place to eat, answered emphatically, “Bridges Barbecue in Shelby.” The love for Bridges Barbecue is good, but there is a problem — as any barbecue lover can explain: there are two Bridges barbecues in Shelby. One is owned by the family of Red Bridges and the other by the family of Alston Bridges....

Read More

One on One: John Hart’s Satisfying Turn To The Supernatural

New York Times bestselling author John Hart, who grew up in Salisbury, is not afraid to take risks — including those with high stakes. In fact, he seems to thrive on these risks. For instance, he gave up his job as a stockbroker about 15 years ago to complete his first literary thriller. That risk-taking paid off when his book, “The King of Lies,” became a Times bestseller in 2006. Three other successes followed: ”Down River,” in 2007, ”The Last Child” in 2009, and ”Iron House” in 2011. Then, Hart risked his string of successes by moving with his wife and...

Read More

One on One: Let’s Have A Parade

I love a parade. So, maybe I should be supportive of President Trump’s suggestion for a big military parade sometime later this year. The president’s idea has not gotten universal approval. Some argue that the money spent for a parade would be better used to beef up our defensive capability. On the other hand, parades have always been a part of the military experience. They serve a number of purposes, including armed forces’ public relations, acting as learning exercises for the troops, and providing an opportunity to build esprit de corps. President Trump seems to have in mind something...

Read More

One on One: Home Cooking

This week my editors are letting me take a break from politics and books to write about my favorite topic: roadside eateries. I’m renewing my search for North Carolina home cooking, researching more small-time restaurant gems across the state. To celebrate, here are three gems along U.S. 421 between Sanford and Greensboro. Rufus’ Restaurant, Goldston “There is nothing as good as a Rufus Burger,” one of the southern Chatham County locals told me recently. “You can get one at Rufus’ Restaurant right up the road in Goldston.” Visiting Goldston – population 300 – is a trip back in time, and...

Read More

One on One: Good Leaders, and Bad Ones

We need good local leaders now more than ever. We need them in our local schools, businesses and churches. We need them in responsible government positions, both in our state and at the highest national level. So, what is good leadership? How do you find it? How do you develop it? How do you deal with the consequences of bad leadership? I was thinking of these questions the other day when I stumbled into a meeting sponsored by Chapel Hill’s Friends of Downtown organization that had invited Dr. Gerald Bell to make a presentation. Bell may be best known...

Read More

One on One: Resolutions

Here is a New Year’s resolution you should have made: “During the upcoming Black History Month I will read at least one book that helps me better understand the challenges African-American people have faced and are facing.” Luckily, it is not too late. February is almost here. Assuming you accept this challenge, let me suggest you consider several North Carolina-related books I have read recently. I will tell you a little about each one, hoping to give you reasons to make a choice. Whichever one you select could open doors to a greater understanding of the black experience and...

Read More

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...

Read More

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....

Read More

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...

Read More