On Our Mind

On Our Mind
March 14
00:00 2013

The National Black Theatre Festival will be back this summer.

Officials whetted our appetite Monday by rolling out this year’s celebrity co-chairs. If Tonya Pinkins and Dorien Wilson aren’t household names, they darn-well should be.

She won a Tony for starring alongside the late Gregory Hines in the smash “Jelly’s Last Jam,” and if critics and fans had their way, she would have taken home a second Tony for her masterful title role in Tony Kushner’s “Caroline or Change.”

Wilson is best known as Professor Stanley Oglevee on “The Parkers,” but his career first took off in the early 1990s when he appeared on HBO’s “Dream On.” The show, the first U.S. sitcom to feature wanton nudity and profanity, was a precursor for future HBO hits like “Sex and the City.”

We are confident that the upcoming NBTF will do even more to uplift the memory and legacy of NBTF Founder Larry Leon Hamlin. The trio of ladies – Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, Gerry Patton and Mabel Robinson – in charge of the NBTF and the N.C. Black Repertory Company have picked up the baton and carried it without even a stumble. Mr. Hamlin would be proud of them, as are all of us.

Many local residents planned to travel to Raleigh this week to voice their opposition to a proposed voter identification law. While we are all for getting involved in the political process, we fear those speaking against this measure are simply wasting breath. The conservative lawmakers now driving the state’s agenda will certainly push through the measure. They say that it is about protecting the integrity of the voting process; we say the aim is to dissuade minority voters from casting ballots.

It is funny how many Republicans suddenly became concerned about preventing voting fraud after President Barack Obama was elected fair and square. Where was this talk after President George W. Bush “won” for the first time under questionable circumstances?

There will be little recourse when lawmakers pass the voter ID bill. Republican lawmakers have the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court on their side. The Court recently heard arguments for a case challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Based on the questions they asked, justices appear posed to strike down the section. Antonin Scalia, the Tea Party justice, had the audacity to call the section a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” An odd description since the section was enacted because blacks in the South weren’t “entitled” to vote at all because southern lawmakers required literacy tests and other tactics to disqualify them.

Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia

We don’t know what racist, suppressive law the General Assembly will give us next. At this point, sadly, nothing would shock us.

Speaking of the General Assembly, we applaud State Rep. Ed Hanes for hearing his constituents’ cries and responding swiftly. Hanes will introduce a bill in the House that would erase the recent Forsyth County Tax Administration property revaluations and allow property owners to keep their 2008 appraisals. More than 90 percent of county residents had their property value downgraded, some by as much as 70 percent, this year.

“The current reappraisals conducted by the county certainly raise concerns among our citizenry,” Hanes said in a statement. “I have spoken with many people across my district, but especially in our eastern quadrant, who live in steady neighborhoods and still lost 70 percent or more in tax value on their homes … I felt it best to intervene legislatively so that the county would have the flexibility to move in whichever manner they felt would be best for the entire populace.”

We are glad that Hanes, a freshman who represents the county’s 72nd District, has offered a solution to the issue; few others have. His bill faces many hurdles. We wish it success.

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WS Chronicle

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