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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Routine maintenance exams are necessary, especially during COVID

Patients should not postpone their healthcare maintenance exams due to fears of COVID-19.

Today I saw several patients that I had not seen in a year. When asked why they had not come in for a check-up sooner, their answer was they were afraid to because of COVID-19.

This saddens me and other healthcare providers as we believe we can provide safe care for you even in the midst of COVID-19 and its variants.

The fear felt by this patient is not isolated to just this patient. Many patients have expressed the same feelings and have acted by postponing their healthcare maintenance exams due to fears of COVID-19.

A recently published article examined how important it was to make sure people controlled their blood pressure. Keeping one’s blood pressure under control is a cornerstone to help make sure you are cared for properly. As a hypertension specialist, I treat patients with blood pressure issues daily. Other studies have delved into what happens when one’s blood pressure is not under control and the possible damage that can occur to the heart and brain.

We also know that damage that can occur in people with uncontrolled and untreated diabetes. It is also important to monitor and get regular check-ups if you have lung problems or kidney issues.

As we enter the autumn season, do not forget to get your maintenance exams. The articles keep coming that address the fears of many health care providers, which are that thousands of women are not getting their mammograms and thus the diagnosis of breast cancer is missed during early detection at the most treatable states of the disease process.

I often use the term maintenance exams. To me, these are routine exams that should be scheduled periodically. I use that term to resonate with the maintenance that one is faithful to perform on one’s cars.

Such health maintenance would include routine lab work such as cholesterol. A complete blood count or hemoglobin, kidney function exams, liver function exams, I also include mammograms, prostate exams, PSA (prostate specific antigen) numbers, colonoscopy exams, eye exams, dental exams, bone density exams and others. In my opinion, these are the basic exams that we need to conduct in order to keep an observational eye on a patient and intervene if abnormalities are discovered. It is the way we keep you healthy.

I also recommend that each home, especially if there are people residing there with hypertension, have a “working” blood pressure cuff and someone there who knows how to use it. I suggest that you take that machine with you on your next visit to your healthcare provider and let them make sure your blood pressure cuff is of good quality. Your provider will also make sure you know how to use it properly. They will calibrate your machine with the machine used in your provider’s office. Providing your home blood pressure numbers can be invaluable information during a telehealth or an in-person visit. A working home thermometer is also a must to have at home along with a well-stocked first-aid kit.

I have also observed that patients have been lax in getting their shingles and pneumonia vaccines. During this time of COVID-19, it is extremely important to be fully vaccinated against all illnesses in order to protect yourself. To that end, be vigilant and make sure you also get your flu vaccine. Your healthcare provider or pharmacy would be happy to make sure you are vaccinated.

The bottom line is that we all need to take better care of ourselves in the midst of this pandemic. This is a subject I have covered before but one I am seeing so much of so please take heed.

In closing, I hear people say all the time that they are sick of COVID or that they are so over COVID. I must remind them that COVID does not care about anyone. Its sole person is to find a home where it can thrive, replicate and mutate. Any warm body will do just fine. Protect yourself on all fronts. Please get vaccinated, encourage your friends and family to get vaccinated. Do not give COVID a home in your body to land. If not for yourself protect your children and the elderly.


Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at ideas@blandclinicpa.com.




Lift Every Voice

Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the N.C. NAACP

Some have said the seeds of democracy were planted in the first book of the Bible, specifically with the announcement that humans are made in the Image of God. Indeed, God announced to the heavenly host on the 6th day after five previous days of extravagant creation, “’Let us make humankind in our image, . . .’ So God created humankind in God’s image, in the image of God, God created them . . .” (Genesis 1:26-27). If each human is so valuable as to bear the image of God, clearly each human is valuable enough to be fairly represented in a democratic government.

Now that the 2020 Census results have been tallied, representation is being realigned across local communities, states, and at the federal level. The good news is, North Carolina will gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, giving us 14 congressional districts. The bad news is, the process for drawing congressional district lines is being shrouded by the N.C. General Assembly.

The decisions made in the redistricting process will affect us for the next decade. Think of all the laws that have passed or failed to pass in the past decade because we’ve languished in districts at the state and federal level that do not represent the majority of North Carolinians. The many are ruled by the few, which is far cry from authentic democracy and a mockery of the One in whose image we are each created.

It’s worth noting that the creation story found in the first chapter of Genesis was likely written and recited for the People of God during the Babylonian exile, over 500 years before the birth of Jesus. Like all exiles and wars then and since, people were confronted with massive life disruption, destruction of home and property, and forced relocation. Chaos like that calls for structure from another source. The prophets and priests of those exiled from Judah offered such structure by reminding God’s people of our place in the order of creation and reminding us of our worth by emphasizing our Godly images.

We still rely on that reminder today when confronted by chaos, even chaos that comes in the form of legislative agendas that do not privilege the worth of each person. We can produce a long list of legislative machinations that devalue many in North Carolina, such as the failure to expand Medicaid or to fund adequately the Department of Environmental Quality so they can protect residents from industrial pollution.

Jennifer Copeland

Now we are being confronted by a process that condenses the locations for public comment about our congressional districts. Hearings are scheduled in only 10 counties out of 100. Not surprisingly, many of our rural counties in northeastern N.C. and western N.C. will be omitted. Surprisingly, no public hearings are scheduled for critical population centers like Wake, Guilford, Buncombe, Gaston, and Union counties. Even more troubling, there are currently no plans for community input after the district maps are drafted. All of which means, if we want a voice in how our voices are represented in Congress, we need to speak up early and often.

The maps matter. When the lines are drawn they should fairly represent the diversity of North Carolina. Partisan districts devalue the vote and, by extension, the voter, the one created in the Image of God. Packing people into congressional districts and cracking districts to dilute voices creates the kind of chaos we’ve had in N.C. for the past decade. This is our once in a decade opportunity to speak boldly for the right to be represented fairly.

People of faith regularly pray, read scripture, and worship together. These are the means through which we cultivate the strength to face the chaos around us. Now is the time to take our faith to the public square and speak against impending chaos. The record in the Bible includes many examples of people speaking truth to power — think of Jeremiah before King Zedekiah and Paul before the Areopagus. Now it’s our turn. We take with us the truth found in Genesis. We are created in the Image of God. We matter.


Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman is president of the North Carolina NAACP.

Jennifer Copeland is the executive director of the North Carolina Council of Churches.




Erica Smith finishes 100 county campaign tour in Greensboro

Erica Smith, a democrat U.S. Senate candidate and N.C. A&T State University alumna, wraps up her campaign tour in Greensboro. Throughout the month of September, for every dollar that was donated through August, Erica Smith’s campaign for Senate says it will knock on a door in a North Carolina county that Donald Trump won in the 2020 presidential race. “We are fighting for an America that works for all. And you can’t spell America without ‘Erica’,’ Smith said. Photo by Ivan Saul Cutler/CarolinaPeacemaker.

United States Senate candidate, Erica Smith, finished her 100 county campaign tour with a public town hall meeting in Center City Park on Thursday, September 9.

The N.C. A&T State University class of 94 alumna noted that she was excited to return to where her political career started as part of the tour.

“We wanted to come back to the place that gave me my political consciousness and awareness and taught me how to advocate for the things that matter to constituents,” said Smith. “North Carolina A&T has been an advocate in the fight for civil rights for years. We have the A&T Four. I am continuing in those footsteps, standing on their shoulders, fighting for an America that works for all of us.”

Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University, and a master’s degree in religious studies from Howard University. Smith began her career as a Senior Engineering Specialist for the Boeing Co. Prior to her retirement from the engineering field she also served as a patent examiner in the Chemical Engineering Technology Center of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

She represented District 3 in the North Carolina Senate from 2015 to 2021. She was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2020, where she finished second in the March 2020 Democratic primaries.

For the 2022 primary election, she is running against former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and Mecklenburg County State Sen. Jeff Jackson. Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton and Richard Watkins of Durham are also in the Democratic primary. Tobias LaGrone, Ava Jackson and Keith Davenport have also declared bids.

Prior to serving in the N.C. General Assembly, Smith served for six years on the Northampton County Board of Education from 2008 to 2014 and in grassroots organizing and community leadership as Democratic Party Chair and First Vice-Chair for Northampton County from 2001 to 2015. Smith shared that during her tenure as student body president at North Carolina A&T, she helped lead efforts to add a mandatory six hours of multicultural or Black studies into the curriculum.

“This is a natural path for me. I have been working, gaining the skills, paying dues and learning the rules for many years now,” she said.

Smith spoke to a small crowd on Thursday, detailing her platform that includes Medicare for all, expansion of broadband access, racial justice, and canceling student loan debt.

“We have to prioritize human investment such as having universal pre-K and free community college. I don’t feel that getting a degree in this country should confine you to a lifetime of debt,” she said.

Born at Fort Bragg and raised in Northampton County, Smith spent her summers picking cucumbers and harvesting corn on her family’s farm. Her platform also consists of supporting legislation that provides resources for Black farmers, reparations for the Black community and living wages.

“One issue that is undoubtedly a concern across the state is the economy. We don’t have a worker shortage as much as we have a living wage shortage. For me, as a single working mom, I know the path that I had to navigate and so many North Carolinians are struggling to make things work on such low wages,” she noted.




IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act needs public support

U.S. Congress woman Dr. Alma Adams with bipartisan support has penned a bill, H.R. 3294, titled: “IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act.” This bill is intended to shore up infrastructure and lead to transformational work at the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Adams says the nation’s HBCU campuses have always been agents of equity, access, and excellence in education, especially for students of color. While only representing roughly three percent of all four-year colleges and universities, HBCUs produce upwards of 17 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans.

Rep. Alma Adam (D-N.C.-12)

Additionally, HBCUs enroll a disproportionately high percentage of first generation and low-income students – nearly 60 percent – and outperforms its peers in supporting and graduating these students.

Stating statistics in support of this bill Adams notes: HBCUs graduate 27 percent of African Americans with bachelor’s degrees in STEM subjects, as well as a significant portion of African Americans with doctorates in science and engineering.

On an annual basis, HBCUs contribute nearly $15 billion to their communities, produce 134,000 jobs, and create $46.8 billion in alumni career earnings that can be directly attributed to their degrees.

Adams added that the incredible success of HBCUs has been achieved despite more than a century of public and private under-funding. Too often, HBCUs are forced to navigate the effects of that under-funding while also lacking access to alternate sources of capital available to other institutions.

Critical infrastructure and modernization is needed in all HBCUs.

A June 2018 Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report identified “extensive and diverse” capital project needs at HBCUs. The report also noted that “HBCUs continue to face challenges in securing financing to undertake needed capital projects” and that “these colleges may be unable to make the campus improvements necessary to attract and retain students, potentially jeopardizing their long-term sustainability.”

Specifically, the GAO found that:

  • Seventy of 79 HBCUs surveyed reported that 46 percent of their building space needed repair or complete replacement.
  • Eight of the 35 public HBCUs surveyed reported that more than 75 percent of their building space needed repair or replacement.
  • Public and private HBCUs reported average deferred maintenance backlogs of $67 million and $17 million respectively, and 30 HBCUs reported that their deferred maintenance backlog had increased from 2015-2017.
  • 42 surveyed HBCUs reported having buildings designated as historic, making up an average of 11 percent of their building space, and the Department of the Interior reported in 2018 that HBCUs have historic building rehabilitation needs but lack the resources to address them.

The IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act will provide, if passed, The Institutional Grants for New Infrastructure, Technology, and Education to (IGNITE) HBCUs.
Specifically, the Act provides support for HBCUs to:

  • Utilize public and private investments to renovate, repair, modernize, or construct new campus facilities, including instructional, research and residential spaces;
  • Preserve buildings with historic significance;
  • Ensure the resilience, safety, and sustainability of campus facilities;
  • Provide access to campus-wide, reliable high-speed broadband to support digital learning and long-term technological capacity;
  • Improving campus facilities to support community-based partnerships that provide students and community members with academic, health, and social services; and
  • Procure equipment and technology to facilitate high-quality research and instruction.

Several prominent organizations have endorsed this act including: United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), IBM, Mastercard, Farm Credit, NC Electric Cooperatives, SAP, Dell, Wells Fargo, Visa, TIAA, Micron Technology, Diageo, HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Information Technology Industry Council, Capital One, Adobe, Autodesk, Nielsen, Oracle Corporation, Siemens, Softbank Group.

This legislation is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 96 members of the House of Representatives and 10 members of the U.S, Senate, including Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.) The lead sponsors along with Adams are Rep. French Hill (R-AR) and U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.)




Storm rallies past Hornets, 30-13

Southern Guilford Storm running back Rydell Herbin scores a touchdown. Herbin tal-
lied a total of 3 touchdowns and one two-point conversion in the Storms’ win over the Hornets. Photo by Joe Daniels.

The Hornets of Western Guilford played host to the Storm of Southern Guilford in a non- conference football game Friday night at Doug Henderson Stadium. Trailing 13-6, at the half the Storm scored twenty-four unanswered points to post a 30-13 victory.

The Storm took the opening kickoff and marched 76-yards, in 15 plays, capped off by junior running back Rydell Herbin’s three-yard touchdown run. The PAT was blocked. Late in the quarter, a bad snap sailed over the punter’s head with the Hornets recovering at the Storm 14- yard line.

On a fourth down and 16 QB Zack Kashubara connected with senior receiver Isaiah Williams tying the score at six all. The PAT fail. Midway through the second quarter linebacker Bryson Moore picked off Southern’s QB Jamias Ferere’spass and returned it 60- yards. The PAT gave the Hornets a 13-6 lead at the break. Unfortunately, for the Hornets there were two more quarters. They never cross midfield in the second half.

The Storm offensive led by junior running back Herbin posted two second half touchdowns, and one two-point conversion, and Herbin scored 20 of his team’s 30 points. Junior wide receiver Jaylin White had a touchdown and two-point conversion ending the Storm scoring. Both teams had frequent penalties such as holding, blocking in the back, offside, delay of game. Things, both teams will have to clean up.

The Storm moved to 1-1, while the Hornets fell to 0-1.




A Red Flag on the West Coast

In just a few days, California will wrap up its recall election targeting Governor Gavin Newsom, a scheme orchestrated by a Far Right still seething over the Big Lie. At fi rst glance that may seem like a problem that only affects California. But it’s not, and the red flag being raised in the West deserves attention from all of us.

Thanks to an oddity of California law, voters could end up replacing Newsom with a candidate who wins only a fraction of the total vote. That’s because there are more than 40 people on a list of folks vying to be that replacement, a list that by law does not include Newsom.

Whoever gets the most votes in the overcrowded fi eld, wins, and for weeks now the leader has been Larry Elder, an ultraconservative talk show host whose extreme positions embrace racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, COVID-denying, and anti-environment stances – among others.

Elder’s ascendance is very troubling on a whole host of levels. That it was engineered at all in a progressive state like California shows the stop-at-nothing determination of a Far Right enraged and emboldened by the Big Lie.

And Elder himself is a marquee example of the type of candidate that could soon be foisted on voters everywhere.

He is more than just one person running for one offi ce; he is the product of an unsavory stew of extremist factions liberated by Trump to do their worst.

One of Elder’s biggest promoters is a radio host named Eric Metaxas, the host of a “Stop the Steal” rally where the Oath Keepers threatened civil war if Trump didn’t stay in power after losing to Joe Biden. Another is a mega-
church pastor named Jack Hibbs, who says Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris have “antichrist views.”

Elder is a Black man who allies himself with White supremacists.

He denies that systemic racism exists. He argued forcefully to the Los Angeles Times that he wants to “change the rhetoric about how bad the cops are.”

According to the same Times article, he “shared a graphic with so-called facts depicting Black people as murderous,” cherry-picking and skewing data to suggest Black people are disproportionately criminal. This is tragic.

From a national standpoint, Elder’s election would certainly send a very dangerous message and encourage extremists. But it would also have the potential for more concrete effects. If California’s 88-year-old senior U.S. senator, Di-
anne Feinstein, had to step down during an Elder term, he could appoint someone to her seat and flip the Senate. That would spell doom for the agenda we elected the Biden-Harris administration to advance.

As someone who grew up in California, and whose parents still live there, I find all of this incredibly disturbing. I worry that progressive Californians, thinking “it can’t happen here,” will dismiss the chance of an ultraconservative coup
in their state and skip voting against the recall. I’m aware that conservatives in the state, by contrast, are incredibly energized to get their voters to the polls. This is a train wreck that could really happen and could
have ripple effects nationwide – but it’s not too late to stop it.

I’m talking to everyone I know in California about the urgency of voting no on the recall. All of us need to do the same. This is a critically important moment in the battle against the far-right extremism that threatens to overtake us as a country. We can’t miss the chance
to nip this dangerous trend in the bud, wherever it threatens to bloom.


Ben Jealous serves as president of People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation.




Back to school recommendations during COVID

Students at Bessemer Elementary are trying to follow the CDC recommendation of universal masking of all students, teachers, staff, visitors or anybody who is in contact in anyway with people in school.
Photo by Ivan Saul Cutler/Carolina Peacemaker.

Well, they tell me summer is now over and we are on our way to enjoying cooler weather and preparing for the winter months. I certainly welcome the anticipated more comfortable weather that is to come but my heart sinks as I also consider what I fear will return.

With still so many people still unvaccinated and the surge we are seeing in the Delta variant of COVID-19 there is much for us to consider.

More students are now returning to the classroom. Think of the nightmare that these education administrators must be facing as they try to prepare for their students, faculty and support personnel. How are they doing this? There are recommendations from the experts at CDC and from pediatricians. Let’s look at their latest recommendations.

There is no doubt that in-person learning is the best for students but we are in a worsening pandemic with so many kids, who are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. So, what are the recommendations for these kids?

As of August 4, the CDC recommends universal masking for all students, teachers, staff, visitors or anybody who is in contact in anyway with people in school. This recommendation is made regardless of whether a person is or is not vaccinated. Though masking seems to be revered and reviled, it is a long-known way of protecting anyone from viruses and has been a staple in preventing COVID-19 spread worldwide.

The second update is that even fully vaccinated people who have been exposed to COVID-19, suspect, or have a confirmed case should be tested in 3-5 days. These updates are on top of the recommendation that three feet of distancing be implemented between students.

In addition to the preventive measure of testing, schools need to check the ventilation of school classrooms and buildings. The air must be clean. Respiratory etiquette must be practiced by everyone (Eg. keep the mask on, mold it firmly to the shape of your nose, make sure it is securely under your chin and make sure there are no leaks of air coming out). Remember, not all masks are equal. It is also important to provide masks with multiple layers for your children that fit their smaller faces properly.

Keep your child or yourself home if you are ill. Seek medical advice. Although no one wants this to happen, we should expect quarantines and isolations to occur.

To say this will be a difficult school year is an understatement. Take the time to thank your teachers, support personnel and administrators for the yeoman’s work they are doing to teach our children under these difficult circumstances.

Let us all do our part to defeat COVID-19 and its variants by masking, getting vaccinated, respecting space between people, staying home when ill and practicing self-care. Our lives depend on it.


Dr. Veita Bland is aboard-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s ra-dio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr.Bland at ideas@blandclinicpa.com.




New program pushes minority entrepreneurship

The inaugural cohort of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce’s Scale to Excel program graduated on August 23. Photos Courtesy Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.

The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce celebrated its first graduating cohort of the minority business entrepreneurship program, Scale to Excel, this month.

Using the proven curriculum StreetWise MBA from the national organization Interise, the intensive seven-month program equips minority business owners with the executive education, management know-how and business support system they need to take their enterprises to the next level.

“We wanted to provide a curriculum for entrepreneurs that were racially diverse. We wanted to make sure they had an opportunity to learn the tools, get the resources and to build a network to help scale their business,” said Niketa Greene, vice president for leadership, diversity and inclusion at The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, about the partnership with Interise.

Graduate Murali Ramaswamy, owner of PulmonIx LLC, gives a speech at the Scale to Excel graduation August 23, 2021 at Union Square Campus.

No degree is required to participate, however to be eligible to apply you must be an ethnic minority-owned business, earn $175,000 – $10 million in annual revenues, employ one other full-time employee besides the owner(s), participant must be the CEO and/or a 51 percent owner, and in business for at least three years.

The first year of the program was this year, which had to be completed virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The program is led by Dr. Channelle D. James, a faculty member in the Bryan School of Business and Economics at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also is the president and executive director of Community Ventures Inc. a non-profit startup focused on creating social good in the City of Greensboro through entrepreneurship and social innovation.

Participants attended virtual sessions that covered topics like marketing, finances, talent retention and strategic business plans, along with the opportunities to have mentoring time with a variety of business experts. The CEO mentorship component allowed participants to meet in small groups for peer to peer support and to work on assignments together. During the rigorous program, participants are also required to complete mandatory assignments and complete program surveys as requested.

Outside of the valuable information provided in the program, Greene noted that cohort graduates called the course “a breath of fresh air” and described it as “free therapy.”

“Coming out of a pandemic and being a minority owned business has been a tough year for some. Some had been deeply affected by the economy as it relates to COVID-19. And coming together with people who could relate to and understand their situation specifically, was helpful to them,” she said.

The cohort of 13 graduates and 12 companies boasted a diverse representation of businesses such as a janitorial product distribution company, marketing firm, staffing firm, facility management company, event production company, clinical research business and multiple construction and commercial cleaning companies.

“One thing that was unanimous among everyone is that they really enjoyed the network part – to be able to meet one another and to meet the various guest experts that we bring in,” said Greene, adding, “This program gave entrepreneurs a chance to set time aside to work on their businesses as opposed to getting caught up of the daily grind of just working their businesses.”

According to the national program’s latest data from 2018, 69 percent of alumni businesses increased or maintained their annual revenues, with an average annual revenue growth of 36 percent.

In addition to that, 66 percent of alumni businesses reported they added or retained jobs, something that is a challenge for many small and minority-owned businesses.

“One of the things that is really encouraging to me is that this curriculum that we use has been around for 16 years. It’s across the country in 75 cities. Interise has a data tracking system that will help us and our participants going forward. It’s important that we incur those same benefits in our community,” said Greene.

The application process for the 2022 cohort is open and can be found at https://greensboro.org/scale-to-excel/.

Cap 1
Photos Courtesy Greensboro Chamber of Commerce
The inaugural cohort of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce’s Scale to Excel program graduated on August 23.

Cap 2
Graduate Murali Ramaswamy, owner of PulmonIx LLC, gives a speech at the Scale to Excel graduation August 23, 2021 at Union Square Campus.




State of Virginia Removes Lee Statue

Crews remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, one of the country’s largest remaining monuments to the Confederacy, on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Sept. 8.

RICHMOND, Va. — A crowd erupted in cheers and song Wednesday as workers hoisted one of the nation’s largest Confederate monuments off a pedestal where the figure of Gen. Robert E. Lee towered over Virginia’s capital city for more than a century.

The statue was lowered to the ground just before 9 a.m., after a construction worker who strapped harnesses around Lee and his horse lifted his arms in the air and counted, “Three, two, one!” to jubilant shouts from hundreds of people. A work crew then began cutting it into pieces.

“Any remnant like this that glorifies the lost cause of the Civil War, it needs to come down,” said Gov. Ralph Northam, who called it “hopefully a new day, a new era in Virginia.” The Democrat said the statue represented “more than 400 years of history that we should not be proud of.”

Sharon Jennings, an African American woman born and raised in Richmond, said she had mixed feelings seeing it go.

“It’s a good day, and it’s a sad day at the same time,” said Jennings, 58. “It doesn’t matter what color you are, if you really like history, and you understand what this street has been your whole life and you’ve grown up this way, you’re thinking, ‘Oh, my God.’ But when you get older, you understand that it does need to come down.”

Some chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!” and sang, “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye.” One man with a Black Lives Matter flag was escorted out by police after running into the fenced-off work area. No arrests were reported, and there was no sign of a counter protest.

Workers used a power saw to cut the statue in two along the general’s waist, so that it can be hauled under highway overpasses to an undisclosed state-owned facility until a decision is made about its future.

The job was overseen by Team Henry Enterprises, led by Devon Henry, a Black executive who faced death threats after his company’s role in removing Richmond’s other Confederate statues was made public last year. He said the Lee statue posed their most complex challenge.

“It won’t transport in this height, so we need to lift the rider off the horse and transport it that way. From a thickness standpoint, we don’t know how long it will take. Are there iron supports? It’s a total mystery,” Henry said Wednesday.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the statue’s removal last summer, citing nationwide pain over the death of George Floyd at the hands of white police officers in Minneapolis. Litigation tied up his plans until the Supreme Court of Virginia cleared the way last week.

The 21-foot (6-meter) bronze sculpture sat atop a granite pedestal nearly twice that tall, towering above Monument Avenue since 1890 in this former capital of the Confederacy.

State, capitol and city police officers closed streets for blocks around the state-owned traffic circle and used heavy equipment and barriers to keep crowds at a distance. The Federal Aviation Administration granted the state’s request to ban drone flights, and the event was livestreamed through the governor’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“This is a historic moment for the city of Richmond. The city, the community at large is saying that we’re not going to stand for these symbols of hate in our city anymore,” said Rachel Smucker, 28, a White woman who moved to Richmond three years ago. “I’ve always found it to be offensive, as a symbol of protecting slavery and the racism that people of color still face today.”
The pedestal is to remain for now, although workers are expected to remove decorative plaques and a time capsule on Thursday.

The sculpture was valued for its artistic quality, and it stood among four other massive Confederate statues that were removed by the city last summer.

The decisions by the governor and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney to remove the Confederate tributes marked a major victory for civil rights activists, whose previous calls to remove the statues had been steadfastly rebuked by city and state officials alike. A statue of Black tennis hero and Richmond native Arthur Ashe erected in 1996 is expected to stay.

“I think it’s pretty apropos that the only remaining monument on this tree-lined street is Arthur Ashe, and I’m pretty confident he’ll withstand the test of time,” Stoney said.

A previous wave of advocacy and resistance led to a rally of White supremacists in the city of Charlottesville that erupted into violence in 2017. Other Confederate monuments started falling around the country.

In Virginia, local governments were hamstrung by a state law protecting memorials to war veterans. That law was amended by the new Democratic majority at the Statehouse and signed by Northam, allowing localities to decide the monuments’ fate as of July 1, 2020.

Stoney then moved swiftly, citing the continuing demonstrations and concerns that protesters could get hurt if they tried to bring down the enormous statues themselves. Protesters had already toppled a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis before Stoney’s decree. Work crews then removed statues of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate naval officer Matthew Maury and Gen. J.E.B. Stuart from the thoroughfare.

The changes have remade the prestigious avenue, which is lined with mansions and tony apartments and is partly preserved as a National Historic Landmark district. Northam has tapped the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to lead a community-driven redesign for the whole avenue.




Northern Guilford crushes Smith

Senior wide receiver Darius Cross scores Smith’s only touchdown of the game with a second quarter 90-yard kick return. Photo by Joe Daniels/Carolina Peacemaker

Northern Guilford’s junior quarterback Jack Mercer led the Nighthawks with five touchdown passes. The Nighthawks also rushed for three more TDs in the rout.

Vance Bolyard, a junior tight end had two touchdown receptions, while senior wide receiver Terrell Timmons made three touchdown catches and junior running back Mark Johnson rushed for two more scores.

Smith’s only highlight came with them trailing 27-0 late in the second quarter when senior Dariuås Cross returned a kickoff 90-yards for the Golden Eagles’ only score of the game. The Eagles trailed 41-6 at the half. Northern tacked on 21 more points during the second half.

Northern improved to 2-0 while Smith fell to 1-1.




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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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