N. Carolinians hail Obama, but dread Pres. Trump

N. Carolinians hail Obama, but dread Pres. Trump
January 19
09:45 2017



On Friday, Jan. 20, at the stroke of 12 noon, as Barack Hussein Obama officially steps down from power as the nation’s two-term elected president of the United States, controversial businessman Donald J. Trump will be sworn-in as the 45th president, and his four-year term will begin.

As elsewhere in America, North Carolina is virtually split between those sorry to see the nation’s first African-American go, and those who are happy to see a new Republican president take office, promising to “Make America Great Again.”

In the black community, though, while there is generally pride in Obama’s historic tenure, there is also trepidation about what the Trump presidency will mean for the nation, and the world.

Speakers across the country, and across the state at Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday commemorations, addressed what was most on people’s minds and hearts.

“If we confront the era of Donald Trump, then you don’t need to get all scared,” U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, and leading candidate to chair the Democratic National Committee, said Monday in Winston-Salem. “People before you stood up.”

He spoke at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast Forum, also known as the Prayer Breakfast, which was sponsored by The Chronicle and the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity.

“President Obama should be penned among America’s best in our history,” state Rep. Evelyn Terry of Winston-Salem told The Chronicle. “Here in North Carolina, as across the nation, when this president entered office, the economy was tanking fast: housing market meltdown due to systemic greed throughout the banking industry without consumer safeguards, among other things; unemployment reaching double digits and trending higher; inherited chaos in almost every category of our society that made this country exceptional. As President Obama leaves the White House, America’s corner stone is on square.  What follows his brilliant leadership against all odds by a hostile Congress, heaven only knows.”

Irving Joyner, law professor at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law in Durham, and chair of the N.C. NAACP’s Legal Redress Committee, laments that President Obama’s historic governance has come to an end.

“At the same time, I am filled with pride that President Obama was able to make a significant contribution to the goodness of the United States as its president,” Professor Joyner said. “His accomplishments, which are too numerous to list here, were achieved in the face of the most concentrated and race-based efforts by the Republican Party political leadership that was determined that he would not succeed. In spite of everything that they threw at him, he made America great and moved this country to another level and political reality. At the end of the day, he made us proud.”

State Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth) agrees.

“Basically I think President Obama was good, there’s no question about that,” Sen. Lowe told The Chronicle Monday, adding that Obama was also good for North Carolina. “I think he did some good things with the economy, I think the [bank] bailout was good, he got [Osama bin Laden]. [But] more translation [last] election season could have been done to talk about that with Joe Blow regular America. Those things could have been talked about. Now we have people saying, ‘Get rid of Obamacare…’ and that’s why [they] voted for Trump, [but will they also say] that Affordable Care Act, you can’t beat it, it’s great stuff.“I mean this is what we’re get-ting!”

“That means somewhere in translation, something was lost,” Sen. Lowe concludes, agreeing that Republicans certainly worked hard to successfully corrupt the message of how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could help millions of Americans in need of health care. Lowe laments that Gov. Pat McCrory would not support Medicaid expansion when he was in office, though Gov. Roy Cooper does now. Thousands of North Carolinians did sign up for the ACA, however.

When it comes to predicting what the future holds in a Trump Administration, Rep. Terry was resolute.

“Puppetry comes to mind as the transfer of power approaches,” Terry said. “We must do our job as good citizens and remain hopeful and vigilant because the things that mattered to a strong America still do matter: the economy, climate change/environment/the planet; criminal justice system and affordable health care … ad infinitum.  Remember this –America is a democracy and not an authoritarian government. As such peaceful dissent and voting by the people can change anything, even purveyors of the seven deadly sins.”

“Along the way to President Obama’s  many successes and contributions, a new and more strident campaign of racism has developed,” Joyner said. “This development produced, in large part, the surprising election of Donald Trump as the incoming president who was voted into office by a decided minority of voters.

“As a result of the Trump brand and caustic style of campaigning, his election has done much to divide America and to  create a heighted  fear for the survival of the democracy to which we are entitled.  Following his election, Trump now has the lowest approval rating of any president in U.S. history. The next four years promise to be very challenging and stressful for African-Americans, poor people and other racial minorities.

“In response, we need to be vigilant, organized,  politically educated and committed to elevating the fight to secure and protect  the democracy,” said Joyner, “which we are entitled to in this country.”

Sen. Lowe, who is also a minister, admitted that a special prayer maybe in order as Donald Trump takes over. He notes how a President Trump “lashes out” on Twitter at those he perceives to be enemies, and is assembling an administration that apparently cares little for the poor.

“You wonder, with the Trump election, is this some kind of backlash to the Obama presidency,” Lowe asked rhetorically, noting how the Obama years brought North Carolinians of all backgrounds together, even though their efforts to elect Hillary Clinton fell short last year.

“In terms of President-elect Trump, the jury is still out,” Sen. Lowe continued. “For some of my Republican colleagues, the election of Trump might be the man-date for some of the far-right, extreme conservative activity that we see happening in the N.C. General Assembly.”

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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