26 March 2012
Wilmington, North Carolina and its island beaches! Each year in April when the landscape is dominated by thousands of brilliant pink, white, and purple azaleas, Wilmington pays homage to these dazzling flowers during the annual North Carolina Azalea Festival, a five-day celebration that ushers in spring with Southern hospitality and fanfare. A springtime tradition since 1948, the 65th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival (April 11-15, 2012) celebrates the rich history, arts, and culture of Wilmington, North Carolina’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach.
Highlights of the N.C. Azalea Festival include the Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Belles dressed in period hoop skirts, an elaborate parade, juried arts and craft shows, a traveling circus, concerts, fireworks, and a street fair with exhibits, vendors, live entertainment, and kids’ activities. Signature events include the Cape Fear Garden Club’s Azalea Garden Tour (April 13-15), one of the South’s longest-running and most popular garden tours. The 59th annual Azalea Garden Tour’s theme, “Follow the Blooms,” showcases 13 public and private gardens that includes a mix of established and new landscapes. For details and tickets: www.azaleagardentour.org. The 2012 Azalea Home Tour (April 14-15) showcases nine private homes and a church of historical and architectural interest. For home tour tickets: www.historicwilmington.org. A two-hour parade on Saturday morning in Downtown Wilmington features azalea-adorned floats, marching bands, clowns, show animals, and celebrities, including Queen Azalea Erika Dunlap, a former Miss America (2004) and the first Black woman to be crowned Miss Florida. Leading the parade will be Grand Marshal Major General James E. Livingston, USMC (RET). Other celebrity guests include: Miss North Carolina 2011 Hailey Best; former “The Bachelor” contestant/UNCW graduate Ashley Spivey, TopCat Lindsey Yoder (Carolina Panther Cheerleader), former NASA Astronaut Colonel Jerry L. Ross, USAF (RET); and Sergeant First Class Hugh Conlon IV (RET) and liaison for the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program.
Music plays a major role in every N.C. Azalea Festival. This year’s headline acts are country music newcomer and reigning “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery, and the award-winning popular recording artist Kenny Loggins. Tickets for both concerts are available online at www.ncazaleafestival.org.
Defense of the right to vote remains critical as legislation that would require a government-issued photo ID, shorten voting hours, curtail early voting, and/or impose absurd penalties limiting the registration process is pending in 27 states, said analysts.
“Young people today have not had access to African American teachers as generations before. They’ve missed the models of intellectual authorities,” said Dr. Fenwick. “Seventy-three percent of inner city teachers are White … the majority of public school children are Black and Latino.”
She explained that the children have little if any access to diverse teachers and said there is a need for Black educational leadership. Research shows Black students with Black teachers are less likely to be targeted for special education, less likely to be suspended and less likely to be expelled. They are also more likely to be targeted for gifted and talented programs, said experts.
The report includes articles by Dr. Steve Perry, “Real Reform is Getting Kids One Step Closer to Quality Schools” and “Sacrifice If You Must-The Reward is Clear” by Gregory Carr, Ph.D. and J.D.
“The current challenges facing American higher education places students from Black, Brown and poor communities at a crossroads nearly 60 years since the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision,” wrote Dr. Carr.
“Faced with the prospect of taking on mounting post- secondary debt but seemingly facing uncertain prospects of employment with only a high school diploma, many of these students ask themselves, should I go to college?”
His answer is an unequivocal, “Yes.”
“The fight to fund schools equally, make college tuition affordable, economically revitalize impoverished communities, or to continue to improve access to affordable health care for all Americans will not be won without increased civic participation,” Mr. Morial commented.
The State of Black America report, issued annually by the National Urban League since 1976, includes an “Equality Index,” which compares Black and Latino progress to White Americans on issues such as income, homeownership, health insurance and education.
The 2012 National Urban League Equality Index documents significantly reduced minority voter registration and voter participation in the 2010 mid-term elections. This lost ground in civic engagement offset modest gains in education and health.
For Blacks, this resulted in an essentially unchanged 2012 Equality Index of 71.5 percent and for Latinos, a decline from 76.7 percent in 2011 to 76.1 percent in 2012.
Jeff Johnson of BET fame encouraged the panel to offer solutions.
“Change some of the ways we describe our situation,” offered Mr. Powell. “We have to have a level of compassion for our people …We’ve abandoned the masses of our people. We must challenge our people with love.”
“Find something to be engaged in. We all have a responsibility. … You are a leader. You have a responsibility to go to communities and show people how to be. Change the direction of the conversation, create institutions and be accessible. Love the people.”
Start an economic movement, said nationally syndicated radio host Warren Ballentine. “Open accounts in Black banks. The government won’t save us. The only ones who will save us is us.” •