NC JUSTICE NEWS: Racial Income Gap + Truth & Hope Tour of Poverty + Career Pathways

January 18, 2012

UNEMPLOYED WORKERS OF COLOR: The racial income gap

On Monday, the nation celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose support of American workers demonstrated the belief that they, too, deserve equal rights and opportunities. Yet it’s clear that there is still a long way to go in achieving Dr. King’s dream.

Data released last week showed that African-American workers were more than twice as likely as white workers to experience unemployment in 2010. High unemployment and fewer job prospects in communities of color have discouraged these workers, and pushed them out of the labor force. The loss of public-sector jobs due to both federal and state budget cuts will also disproportionately impact workers of colors, as African-Americans comprise 1 in 5 public-sector workers.

Last week, Governor Perdue issued an Executive Order that will extend temporary benefits to approximately 25,000 unemployed North Carolinians, a step in the right direction in offering support to workers, their families and communities. But with federal support for extended unemployment benefits still hanging in the balance, it’s paramount to protect the lives of these workers whose struggles have only been compounded by North Carolina’s slow economic recovery. It’s time for policymakers to recommit to investing in job creation strategies and building an unemployment insurance system that supports families of all colors and creeds.

For more information about unemployment insurance, visit

TRUTH & HOPE TOUR OF POVERTY: Shedding light on NC poverty

On Thursday, January 19, the North Carolina NAACP, NC Justice Center, and UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity will kick off the first leg of the “Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty in North Carolina,” a state-wide tour of rural counties and inner city neighborhoods where North Carolinians have struggled to find work, decent housing, transportation, and sufficient food for their families.

Departing from Raleigh on Jan. 19, a bus full of activists, reporters, foundation leaders, and scholars will travel through the northeast quadrant of the state, engaging in town hall meetings, sessions with local leaders, and tours of neighborhoods directly affected by poverty. The bus will make stops in Washington, Roper, Elizabeth City, Winton, Scotland Neck, and Rocky Mount.


  • 9:30 a.m. – BEAUFORT COUNTY. Metropolitan AME Zion Church, 102 W. Martin Luther King Jr., Drive, Washington, 27889
  • 12:00 p.m. – WASHINGTON COUNTY. Roper, 27970
  • 6:30 p.m. – PASQUOTANK COUNTY. Elizabeth City State University, K.E. White Graduate Center, Room 130, 1704 Weeksville Road, Elizabeth City, 27909


  • 8:30 a.m. – HERTFORD COUNTY. “Old” C.S. Brown High School Cafeteria, 101 C.S. Brown Drive, Winton, 27986
  • 1:00 p.m. – HALIFAX COUNTY. Brawley High School, E. 16th Street, Scotland Neck, 27874
  • 4:30 p.m. – EDGECOMBE COUNTY. Rocky Mount OIC Auditorium, 402 E. Virginia Street, Rocky Mount, 27801

CAREER PATHWAYS: Need for skill-building, career advancement

The state’s current economy is in dire need of a boost. Between December 2007 and November 2011, unemployment rose from 5 to 10.4 percent, and poverty climbed from 14.3 to 17.5 percent. Income levels dropped and thousands of workers lost their jobs in high-wage and low-wage industries alike. In addition, there’s an enormous disconnect between industry demands for skilled labor, and North Carolina’s ability to supply these workers. Without a pool of workers with education and industry-appropriate skills, industries looking to locate or expand may start looking elsewhere, and workers will struggle to find decent-paying jobs. Compounded with a boom in low-wage work, North Carolina is now facing a future where far too many workers will become trapped in low-skill career tracks, without any opportunities to advance or find work elsewhere.

A new report from the NC Budget & Tax Center finds that investing in “career pathways” could help the state avoid such a future by changing the trajectory of North Carolina’s job growth from low-skill occupations to high-skill ones. Career pathways are a series of connected education and training programs and student support services that enable workers to secure a job or advance in a high-demand industry.

The report looks at Latino Pathways, Wx/EaST, and Pathways Out of Poverty, three career pathway programs that help close the wage and skills gap for North Carolina workers. These programs create structured training opportunities for workers in targeted industries, opening up a wealth of opportunities for skill-building and career advancement.

BILL WILSON: Justice Center welcomes new Deputy Director

The NC Justice Center is pleased to welcome Bill Wilson as the center’s new Deputy Director. Wilson has spent over two decades working with state and national advocacy organizations, addressing issues ranging from public education and consumer protection to health care and employee rights.

Wilson comes to the Justice Center from AARP North Carolina, where he has served as associate state director since 2005. As an advocate on issues significant to older adults, Wilson’s accomplishments at the AARP include passing legislation and rules to create North Carolina’s first consumer rating system for adult care homes. Prior to his work at AARP, Wilson worked as the Director of Politics and Government Relations at the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers, where he lead political and legislative work for the Academy, and spent more than 10 years with the NC Association of Educators leading the NCAE’s legislative, political, and fundraising efforts.

“We are thrilled to welcome Bill Wilson, who has long been an essential ally to the Justice Center on a wide variety of issues,” said Melinda Lawrence, Executive Director of the NC Justice Center. “Bill arrives at the Justice Center armed with a deep knowledge of the state’s policy environment as well as tremendous skills and experience in community engagement. Bill’s expertise as an advocate and manager for non-profits in North Carolina, combined with his life-long commitment to social justice, will be tremendous assets to the NC Justice Center.”

BUILDING A STRONGER NC: Interactive session in Raleigh

This year, United Way and the NC Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center, are once again teaming up to share the story of the economy and state budget. Through interactive sessions across North Carolina entitled “Building a Stronger North Carolina”, communities will be given the opportunity to respond and help write the next chapter in this ever-changing story.

Attendants will be encouraged to ask and answer a variety of questions, such as:

  • How have the state budget and the economy impacted your community?
  • What budget trends are developing, and how long will it take for NC to recover from the Great Recession?
  • Is NC falling behind in areas like Education, Health and Public Safety?
  • How can you impact the issues you care most about?
  • How can you join with others to focus your local advocacy for the greatest outcome?

The next and final event in the economic road show will take place on Tuesday, January 23 in Raleigh. The event will be held from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) building at 700 South Salisbury Street. Click here for further details.

HKonJ: Save the Date - February 11, 2012

Five years ago, the North Carolina NAACP began building a multi-racial, multi-issue alliance of progressive organizations in North Carolina to form the Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly Coalition (HKonJ-PAC). The movement – made up of over 125 member organizations –will continues its anti-racist, anti-poverty and anti-war agenda with its annual march this February.

The 6th Annual HKonJ march will take place on Saturday, February 11, 2012. Armed with the historic shout, “We the People Shall Not Be Moved: Forward Together Not One Step Back!”, HKonJ aims to unite individuals from all walks of life. Citizens will march in support of voting rights, equitable education, a fair state budget, job creation, health care and community investments, and the protection of the rights of immigrants.

Assembling will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning at Shaw University on South Street in Raleigh. The march will begin at 10:30. Visit the HKonJ website for more information and details on the HKonJ 14-point agenda. We’ll see you on Saturday, February 11.

CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER CARE: Lunch for older adults, caregivers

Join the NC Justice Center and AARP NC on Thursday, February 2 in Goldsboro for the next Campaign for Better Care community luncheon and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.

The Campaign for Better Care aims to make improvements in the health system for older adults and build a strong, lasting consumer voice for better health care. Come and share your experiences about what you think needs to be changed in our health system and take advantage of the expertise offered from the AARP and the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and more.

The free event will be held from 11:30 am - 2:00 pm at the Wayne County Services on Aging in Goldsboro. To reserve your seat, contact Services on Aging at 919-731-1591 or Nicole Dozier at or 919-856-2146.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: What's next for politics in 2012?

It looks like 2012 is going to be a huge year in North Carolina politics and public policy. Between the General Assembly’s “midnight madness” fiasco, other special legislative sessions, a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to restrict marriage, a presidential primary, a court fight over redistricting, a legislative “short session,” chronic economic and fiscal crises, a presidential/ gubernatorial/ council of state/ legislative election and the most aggressively reactionary state legislature in decades, it’s hard to imagine how things could be much crazier. So what does public opinion tells us is going to happen? What ought to happen?

Don’t miss a chance to gather some answers to these questions from two of the state’s leading experts. Join NC Policy Watch at noon on Thursday, February 2, for a Crucial Conversation lunch featuring Tom Jensen and Chris Fitzsimon. Tom Jensen is the Director of the nationally recognized polling firm, Public Policy Polling and oversees its day to day operations. Chris Fitzsimon is the Director of N.C. Policy Watch and North Carolina's leading progressive media personality. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from these two experts at this critical time.

The event will be held at the Marbles Kids Museum at 210 E. Hargett St. in downtown Raleigh. Pre-registration is required. For more information contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or


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