the county news
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 through Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 through Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Habari Gani:
A Focus on Recent Events
Asiah Figueroa's MOM-O Vigil
Asiah Figueroa's MOM-O Candlelight Vigil
By Makheru Bradley
Makheru Bradley
We titled this series Habari Gani, a Kiswahili term we use during Kwanzaa, translated as “What’s New”, or “What is the News?” Our intent is to cover recent events that impact Afrikan people.

The Tyranny of Stray Bullets strike 3-year-old Asiah Figueroa in Charlotte
On a quiet Tuesday night, a peaceful northwest Charlotte neighborhood was turned into a shooting gallery. Unlike Gaza or Kabul, no one was firing back at the shooters. Inside one home a beautiful, sleeping, 3-year-old, Asiah Figueroa, was struck and killed as cold-bloodied killers wildly fired as many as 150 shots into his home on September 7. Asiah’s 4-year-old sister was wounded when one of the bullets grazed her. A neighbor’s camera captured grainy images of two cars driving up to the home and stopping to allow the shooters—armed with automatic weapons—to get out and blast Asiah’s home. Some of the bullets hit another home.

Many questions, very few answers so far
What prompted this group of people to fire into the Figueroa home? Where did they get automatic weapons? Was it connected to gangland activities? CMPD believes the murder of young Asiah was part of a crime wave that is connected to the September 5 killing of 16-year-old Jaylen Foster in northwest Charlotte. Two others were wounded in that shooting. A 14-year-old was arrested and charged with the murder of Foster, and with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, possession of a firearm by a minor, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. CMPD reports 65 homicides so far in 2021, compared to 71 at this time last year when Charlotte recorded 121 homicides, one short of the 1993 record of 122 homicides. More ↠
Zillow, UNCF and Black Tech Ventures to Host Hackathon for Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Challenge aims to increase the number of Black students in the early-career tech talent pipeline. Participants will innovate housing solutions as they learn skills and compete for $90,000 in cash and prizes.

SEATTLE – Registration is now open for Zillow’s first hackathon for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) around the country. Beginning September 23, the seven-day virtual competition challenges students to develop and pitch creative and impactful tech solutions that align with Zillow’s goal to help consumers overcome obstacles on their journey to find a home. Nearly $90,000 in cash and prizes is up for grabs as students gain real-world experience in the technology industry.

Zillow, in collaboration with United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Black Tech Ventures (BTV), will host the HBCU Housing Hackathon to help HBCU students further develop their skills through workshops, hands-on enrichment, mentorship and teamwork.

To engage HBCU students who have various technical skill levels, Zillow’s HBCU hackathon is open to both students with advanced computer coding experience as well as those with little or no coding experience. Students will work closely with Zillow and BTV mentors. More ↠

Actor’s death reminds of NC’s OPIOD crisis
By Cash Michaels
Cash Michaels
The untimely death of gifted actor Michael K. Williams - star of HBO’s Lovecraft Country and The Wire, among other noteworthy productions - last week, according to authorities, apparently attributed to a drug overdose in his Brooklyn home, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, reminded all that the Black community has to struggle with two growing health challenges that threaten our everyday living.

It has been well documented that even though, at press time, there was no official determination of what exactly caused the Emmy-nominated Williams’ death, the actor’s well-documented drug use history, and the paraphernalia and heroin allegedly found on his kitchen table, pointed toward an apparent overdose of the deadly, and illegal opioid as the culprit.

Williams, 54, was always open about his drug abuse problems, something he suffered from since the age of nineteen.

In 2012, he told that he spent his earnings from The Wire on drugs.

“I was playing with fire, he said. “It was just a matter of time before I got caught and my business ended up on the cover of a tabloid or I went to jail or, worse, I ended up dead. When I look back on it now, I don’t know how I didn’t end up in a body bag.”
Michael K. Williams
Michael K. Williams

It was February 2020 when Williams told an event for former prisoners that his work in movies was a way to beat his habit. “This Hollywood thing that you see me in, I’m passing through. Because I believe this is where my passion, my purpose is supposed to be.”

Sadly, Williams’ addiction may have eventually destroyed them both.

Here in North Carolina, there are thousands who are in the same boat, officials tell us. And while opioid addition is primarily white, it is becoming increasingly Black. More ↠
Gov. Cooper veto’s Anti-Riot Bill and Anti-Critical Race Theory Bills

By Cash Michaels
It should not have come as a surprise to any Republican state lawmaker that Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was going to veto their most controversial legislation this term.

Last week, Cooper vetoed House Bill 805 and House Bill 324. Both measures were seen by Democrats as, Republican over-reaches of First Amendment and educational freedoms, so much so that there is little chance of any Democrat joining GOP lawmakers in attempting to override Gov. Cooper’s veto.

As reported recently, HB 805, ratified by the Republican-majority NC House after winning approval in the GOP-led Senate, was purported to be a direct response to last summer’s protests and calls for racial justice and police accountability, proponents said.

But opponents, primarily Democrats, countered that it was an attempt to stifle peaceful protests.

“The bill is a clear attempt to suppress free speech and the right to assemble,” the progressive-leaning NC Justice Center said. “It also leaves the definition of a “riot” intentionally vague, thus granting police and prosecutors immense power to target Black, brown, and indigenous communities. By standing up for racial justice, those communities will be most hurt by the subjective
Roy Cooper

Interestingly, a federal judge in Florida last Thursday ruled that state’s anti-riot law as unconstitutional as well, arguing that law’s language too vague,” [permitting] those in power to weaponize its enforcement against any group who wishes to express any message that the government disapproves of."

Gov. Roy Cooper agreed.

“People who commit crimes during riots and at other times should be prosecuted and our laws provide for that, but this legislation is unnecessary and is intended to intimidate and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest,” said Cooper in a statement, explaining why he was vetoing the measure.

The Democratic governor also had sour grapes for the controversial HB324, which Republicans assured was an effort to prevent “indoctrination” by liberal teachers of students about racism, sexism, and America’s racist and sexist history. More ↠
Livingstone to kick off UNCF campaign with
‘An Evening on the Green’ Friday
Kimberly Harrington
Kimberly Harrington
SALISBURY – In the mood for some down-home blues mixed with some hand-clapping gospel music? Or how about the classical tunes of a symphony quartet capped with toe-stumping rhythm and blues?

Access to all of this takes place this Friday, Sept. 17, on the historic front lawn of Livingstone College as it kicks off its annual UNCF campaign. The event begins at 7pm and will include refreshments.

The program will feature a variety of entertainment including the Livingstone College Gospel Choir; a quartet of the Salisbury Symphony; Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen; and R&B local sensation Divided by Four.

The Livingstone Gospel Choir, under the direction of pastor and professor Christopher Gray, released a new single this year titled, “Exalt,” that is available on all digital platforms. The choir has also performed with Grammy-award winning artists such as Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, Erica Campbell and James Fortune.
Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen, known as the “Queen of Bourbon Street” in New Orleans, relocated to her home state of North Carolina after Hurricane Katrina. She spends her time today singing at nursing homes and senior-living facilities near and around Salisbury.

Divided by Four will belt out classic R&B tunes, singing something for everyone, while a quartet of the Salisbury Symphony will delight the audience with its musical performances.

There is no charge for entry, but it is a fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund, said Deborah Johnson, Livingstone’s UNCF director. Contributions to UNCF will be accepted during the program. The college’s goal is to raise $125,000. The campaign ends March 31, 2022.

As one of the 37 member colleges and universities of UNCF, Livingstone College receives a range of support that enables it to keep its academic programs strong and its tuitions affordable. The UNCF provides its member colleges and universities with unrestricted funds for operations, scholarships and internships in an effort to provide educational opportunities to deserving students who have the desire to attend college, but not More ↠