Saturday, December 5, 2009

Letters From Murphy and Watts Regarding the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People

Note: Posted below are two letters. The first is written by Lois Murphy, a supporter of Lavonia Allison in the upcoming election for chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. The second letter comes from Chuck Watts. Parts of both letters were recently quoted in my blog. Many have requested to view the letters in their entirety. Enjoy

Lois Murphy's Letter to members of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People
Dear Members,

Melvin Whitley has announced he is running against Dr. Allison for the chair position of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People (Committee) this year. Allow me to emphatically inform you that for years Melvin has been working with Katie Munger, who wrote an e-mail several years ago vowing to dismantle the Committee. Melvin has no interest in the mission of our Committee and only wants to chair it so he can usher in the demise of our organization, which has been in the works since its inception in 1935.

Certainly, I do not deny change is needed; however, change fueled by lust for power, vengeance, and with the intent of dismantling the Committee is not the answer. There is not a one of us who has not at one time or another been disenfranchised with the Committee’s leadership. However, one thing that we must not ignore is that Dr. Allison has a long standing record of protecting the mission of the Committee. She regularly attends meetings to voice concerns about the conditions of our people, and she is black and bold enough to publicly divulge racist discriminatory practices, which stifles the advancement of blacks in Durham.

Melvin along with others (Bill Bell, Cora Cole McFadden, Howard Clement – just to name a few) within the organization were instrumental in unseating Joe Bowser several years ago. Therefore, Bowser supporters, a vote for Melvin is a vote against Joe. Thelma White is unseating Dr. Allison really worth it since for sure if Melvin became chair, Joe and those of like mind would never be endorsed by the Committee.

Therefore, we must not allow the Committee to fall into the hands of those who want to dismantle our organization, not willing to equally share power and resources, as well as continue the Jim Crow mentality. Katie Munger, the People Alliance, and Melvin Whitley desire to see the only independent organization for blacks destroyed because they cannot control it or our leaders. We must lay aside our personal difference to protect this organization from them, as well as those among us who seek to destroy this Committee for their own self serving interest.

Dr. Allison needs our support in this battle to protect the mission of the Committee. Thus, NOW is definitely not the time for infighting. Do not destroy our organization and allow it to be controlled by Katie Munger and the People Alliance through self-proclaimed minister, Melvin. Give Dr. Allison your VOTE at the 7 pm, December 10 meeting instead of Katie Munger, the People Alliance, and their agent of destruction Melvin Whitley. The meeting will be held at White Rock.

By the way self proclaimed minister Melvin, is it true you served time for assaulting a women and been arrested for indecent exposure? If so, your manhood and commitment to God is questionable, as well as your mental capacity. Whatever happened to the Durham Voter Coalition? Why are you not chair of that organization or seeking to be chair of the People’s Alliance?

In addition, the great Reverend Wannabe Chair of the Committee Melvin Whitley is no more than an agent for those who want to dismantle our community. His appearance of representing our community is for self serving purposes ONLY!


Lois Murphy

Chuck Watt's Letter to Members of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People


I am, frankly, not sure how I got on a mailing list to receive this broad side attack on Rev. Whitley, but since you included me, let me respond with my thoughts about the issues that you raise.

First, let me say that Dr. Allison's history of commitment to the Committee is unquestioned and really cannot be challenged by any knowledgeable person.

Second, I think it needs to be acknowledged that Dr. Allison's truly historic commitment is just not relevant to any question regarding future leadership of the Committee. The past is the past and any functioning organization needs to be focused exclusively on its future when selecting a leader. Black folks in Durham owe her a lot but they do not owe her the Chair of the Committee.

Third, you make a lot of charges against Rev Whitley that, in my view, are also irrelevant, of course everyone will have to make their own judgement about that. However, political in fighting can result in strange bedfellows from time to time but in politics there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. I would caution you against reaching the conclusions that you have about Rev. Whitley and would advise that you raise your attacks as questions for him and ask him to provide a response. You can then more fairly reach a conclusion about his intentions and alliances.

Finally, I feel that I have to say something about one of your charges. You claim that Melvin's purpose in running for Chair of the Committee is to destroy it. I feel compelled to say that it has been under Dr. Allison's leadership that the Committee has reached its current level of low regard and low participation. In my lifetime, I cannot recall a time when the Committee has been at such a low level and has become all but irrelevant to matters of significance to black folks in Durham. You essentially acknowledge that fact in your comments, as has every person with whom I have had private conversation about the state of the Committee over the last few years. I will say it maybe more clearly than you have, IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP AT THE DURHAM COMMITTEE. The destruction of the Committee is more likely to occur from a continuation of the current leadership than it is from almost any change in leadership.

I applaud Rev. Whitley for putting his name out there. The sort of personal attack that you have provided is what, I am sure, he expected and yet he was willing to stand up to these sorts of assaults.

Due to the bizzare rules that have been put in place to give the Chair control over voting, I am sure that I will not be allowed to vote in the selection of a new Chair. However, I do recall when Dr. Allison ran against Judge Johnson for her first term as chair there were huge numbers of Committee members energized and voting. That will not be the case this time. This change is but one piece of evidence of the declining state of the Committee & it's relevance to the lives of Black folks in Durham.


Chuck Watts.


  1. 1) If Melvin Whitley is working with me on anything, it's news to me. What exactly is he supposed to be working with me on?

    2) I never wrote a letter threatening to dismantle the Durham Committee; I don't wish to dismantle the Durham Committee; nor would I have the power to do so if I did. I have absolutely nothing to do with local politics and it's downright silly of Ms. Murphy to run around town in terror of me. Hey Lois: Boo! (Wow, did you see her jump?!)

    Let me end with a serious comment: to question the mental capacity of a man who served his country with honor is beyond the bounds of human decency. Shame on Lois Murphy and anyone who doesn't speak out against this kind of hate mongering. Has this town really sunk so low that this kind of rhetoric is acceptable? I don't see how any decent person can tolerate being associated with the ugliness of spirit shown by that letter. What kind of message does such behavior send to the young people of our community? That to become a leader in this town, you have to tear others apart, rather than work together? That letter only reaffirms my decision to stay as far away from Durham politics as possible. I'm glad I got out while my soul and my humanity were still intact.

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