Up & Coming Weekly

May 9, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 19 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM MAY 10 - 16, 2023 UCW 19 Gene Nichol: North Carolina's disturber and prophet by D.G. MARTIN North Carolina has its own Old Tes- tament prophet. Maybe you remem- ber from Bible study those prophets who preached about the people's responsibility to care for the poor. Elijah stood up to the authority of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and the prophets of Baal. (I Kings 18). One of the most famous prophets is Micah, known for his oft-quoted di- rection to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8). He also condemned those who mistreated the poor. Jeremiah condemned those who "oppress the poor and needy and de- prive them of justice." (Jeremiah 22:3). Amos condemned those who "tram- ple on the poor and force them to give you grain." (Amos 5:11). In his new book, "Lessons from North Carolina: Race, Religion, Tribe, and the Future of America," Gene Nichol takes on the role of North Car- olina's prophet. He writes about the abuses by those in power. He writes most eloquently about the poor and North Carolina's exploitation and inat- tention to them, condemning ways the powerful oppress the powerless. Nichol is a professor and former dean at the UNC Chapel Hill Law School. He served as law dean at the University of Colorado (1988-1995) and was president of the College of William & Mary (2005-2008). He served as the director of UNC's Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity until it closed in 2015. In Chapter 1, "Rejecting the Ameri- can Promise, e Reembrace of Racial Supremacy," Nichol attacks the ac- tions of the state legislature for having "blown through" the barriers which had seemingly been set in stone. ey included "the right to vote, majority rule, free and fair elections, freedom of speech and religion, equal protec- tion of the laws, unnecessary separa- tion of powers, and an independent judiciary to keep the channels of democracy open and guarantee the rule of law." In Chapter 2, "Politics, Tribe and (Unchristian) Religion," Nichol asserts that "the chasm between the political agenda of most white Christian evan- gelicals and the teachings of Jesus is wide — beyond wide." In Chapter 3, "Politics and Pov- erty," Nichol, like the Old Testament prophets, points out that North Carolina has some of the developed world's highest rates of poverty, child poverty and child hunger. He mourns that this terrible situation "triggers no meaningful, majority-sponsored, state anti-poverty initiatives." In Chapter 4, "Destroying a Price- less Gem," Nichol details examples of intervention by political figures in the operation of the university, includ- ing closing of the Poverty Center at UNC Chapel Hill, which he had led, in retaliation for his critical newspaper articles. In Chapter 5, "Movement vs. Parti- san Politics," Nichol opens with "It is no exaggeration to claim that, over the last dozen years, the North Carolina General Assembly has waged one of the stoutest wars launched by any American state in the past half century against poor people, people of color, the LGBTQ + community, public education, the environment, and even democracy itself." In Chapter 6, "e Limits of Law," Nichol mourns the takeover of the U.S. Supreme Court by the "originalist ad- venturism" of former Justice Antonin Scalia and the current Supreme Court justices. In his final chapter, Nichol ad- dresses "Democracy, Equality, and the Future of America." Speaking of the choices before the legislature, he writes "if they have to choose between white ascendancy and the Declaration of Independence's commitment to the equal rights of humankind, then apparently, it's an easy choice. Power, not democracy, is what matters." Like the prophets of old, Nichol stirs the pot. Maybe too much. Maybe not enough. FREE HEALTH CARE • for Eligible uninsured Adults call 910.485.0555 D.G. MARTIN, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com. 910-484-6200 LITERATURE

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