The CEO of Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting Co. used the speaker’s podium during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. unity event to blast the new redistricting plan in North Carolina, as well as those who will not support the point of the long-running Leandro education case and who will not support Medicaid expansion in the state.
“Those of us that care about Dr. King and his legacy, those of us that are community-oriented, those of us that care about our city and our state, are almost down for the count. The hand is up,” Jim Goodmon said Monday, using wrestling match lingo and referee countdowns to make his point.
Goodmon said of the situation in the state, “Our schools are on the line. Our political system is on the line. We’re going to be dominated by one party for the next 10 years unless we can change those districts.”
Goodmon was referring to the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
Goodmon said he has made clear his belief in a need to focus on getting out the vote instead of there being protest marches.
“We only need to have one march,” he said. “We’re going to march to the polls. If you want to have a march to get something done that really changes things, then you march to the polls.”
Capitol Broadcasting owns television station WRAL. Additionally, the Rocky Mount Mills commercial and residential development off Peachtree Street and Falls Road is an always-in-progress project of Capitol Broadcasting.
Goodmon spoke during an event held via the YouTube channel of the Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences.
Near the end of the event, activist Susan Perry Cole received the annual Service to Humanity Award from the local Human Relations Commission.
Goodmon eventually spoke about the Leandro case, redistricting and Medicaid expansion.
The Leandro case can be traced back to 1994, with the argument having been that school districts in five counties — Halifax, Vance, Robeson, Hoke and Cumberland — lacked the funding to provide equal education for schoolchildren. The case has grown to plaintiffs and defendants having agreed on a plan to provide sound public education in North Carolina.
In November, a trial court judge ordered the state to pay $1.75 billion to help close the gap of unfairness in funding. However, before the end of the same month, a state Appeals Court panel, in a 2-1 decision, said the judicial branch has no authority to order the state to appropriate money to satisfy any execution of a money judgment.
Goodmon said that for at least a quarter of a century, the courts have been telling the state that it is not complying with the part of North Carolina’s constitution to make sure schoolchildren can receive a quality education and telling the state that it is not doing what it should for schools.
Goodmon added, “Come to think of it, I can’t think, I can’t remember any of our legislative leadership saying, ‘You know what I’m going to do? You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to have a good school system in North Carolina. We’re going to have a great school system in North Carolina.”
As for the redistricting plan, he said what is now in place ensures one political party has very close to a super-majority just because of the way the districts were picked and because there is going to be a significant reduction in the number of elected officials who are Black.
“Got that?” he said.
On Jan. 11, a panel of three trial court judges declined to discard state legislative and congressional district maps approved by the General Assembly, meaning those new boundaries can be used in this year’s elections. Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal with the state Supreme Court.
And Goodmon said, “I can’t remember anything as frustrating and as inexplicable as the fact that we did not take Medicaid expansion.”
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the federal Affordable Care Act, part of which allows states to expand Medicaid to help subsidize people with incomes 138 percent below the poverty line. In 2013, the General Assembly passed a law banning Medicaid expansion in North Carolina.
Goodmon made clear he believes the only logical reason he can deduce for not taking the funding for North Carolina is along the lines of, “I can’t do it. President Obama did that. That’s an Obama program. We’re not going to do it.”
“I haven’t heard any logical explanation,” Goodmon said. “So, it’s philosophical. It’s political. ‘We’re not going to support that Black president.’”
Cooper Blackwell, who serves on the local Human Relations Commission, presented the Service to Humanity Award to Cole.
Blackwell called Cole “one of the mothers of the movement to uplift the people of Rocky Mount.”
Cole is active in a variety of efforts, including the Community Academy, which is a group of concerned neighborhood residents seeking to improve housing conditions in racially segregated and blighted communities experiencing disinvestment.
The Community Academy also was a key part of a coalition that produced a proposed redistricting plan of Rocky Mount’s City Council wards that the council approved in November.
Cole spoke of a belief in the core value of being a servant leader who aspires to put the needs, growth and well-being of followers first, aims to share power with others and also encourages the development and growth of others.
She also issued a challenge by quoting King, who once said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”