Monday, October 22, 2012

Herald-Sun article sends the wrong message

The headline for a recent Ray Gronberg article should have been “He’s a bold face liar”.  That’s the message Gronberg conveyed in the article “Leaflet implies false tie to Durham Committee”.
Gronberg, as usual, did a masterful job of telling the story regarding the disbursing of a flier that claims judicial candidate Jim Dornfried received the endorsement of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Back People. The flier reads “the Durham Committee for Black People,” a minor change in the name which could confuse voters.  The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People endorsed Orlando Hudson, the incumbent.

“I always presume the best of people until proven otherwise,” Phil Cousin, chairman of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, was quoted in the article written by Gronberg. “What would the political season be without some chicanery? This appears to be an effort to confuse people. The committee clearly endorses Judge Hudson, and we stand by that endorsement.”

Gronberg reports that Butch Williams, a local attorney who supports Hudson, received the tip regarding the flier from Darius Little and Thelma White. Williams says he later received “five of six (copies) from other sources”.  After raising a clear case for the possibility that Dornfried is behind the shady flier, Gronberg attacks the credibility of the two people who exposed the problem.

“White is a neighborhood activist and longtime ally of former County Commissioner Joe Bowser,” Gronberg writes.  “Little is a convicted felon who’s been trying to make his way into local politics. He ran unsuccessfully for a City Council seat in 2009,”
One has to wonder about the motivation behind the references made.  Did Gronberg use Whites connection to Bowser to discredit her credibility in the minds of those glad the former commissioner got the ax during the primary?  More significant is Gronberg’s comment about Little.  What does his criminal record have to do with this issue?  How does the mention of that past serve readers, other than to diminish Little’s claim based on his past?  More appalling to me is how the Herald-Sun continues to wave Little’s criminal record before readers as a way to negate his right to engage in the work that is so important to him.
Is Gronberg implying Little and White created the fliers themselves?  It’s a suggestion that could easily enter the minds of those familiar with Bowser’s past and Little’s criminal record.  Could this be Gronberg’s way of saying what he couldn’t say?  Is Gronberg suggesting that voters should be suspicious of anything connected to Little and White?  Why not? One followed Bowser and the other is a criminal. 
Yes, Little has a criminal record.  It’s a matter that has received considerable reporting.  No, Little is not a perfect person.  He, like so many in the public arena, has his share of baggage.  He’s made his mistakes.  He’s paid the price for those mistakes. Give him a break.  Look at what he is doing today.
Rather than mention Little’s role as a member of the Durham Committee of Black People, Gronberg mentioned his record.  He doesn’t mention Littles involvement with People’s Alliance. Little is one of the few people involved with both the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People and the People’s Alliance.  Gronberg didn’t mention his work with the Durham InterNeighborhood Council.  He was so quick to throw out his criminal past that there was no mention of the work he has done to make a difference. I’m not holding Gronberg accountable for failing to mention all of Little’s achievements.  I do feel it necessary to weigh the significance of his criminal record against his community involvement.
What Gronberg did to Little transcends an attack on his character.  It raises serious questions related to what it takes for people who have criminal records to gain respect after they have paid that debt to society.  What does it take for us to stop reporting on their past?  How much does Little, and people like him, have to do for us to stop slinging his past in his face whenever they find themselves in the middle of an issue?  How does it feel to read the paper with that line next to your name – convicted felon?  How would you feel after working to contribute in making a difference only to read that you still are responsible for that past?
Gronberg’s mention of that past wasn’t essential to this story.  The only bearing it has is to question Little’s credibility. Readers should hold the press accountable whenever we take a walk done that street.
Little deserves better than this.  He’s working hard. We often disagree, but I give him credit for being active and informed.
Leave the brother alone.  He has the right not to have his past beside his name every time he shows up to make a difference.


  1. Thanks for having the boldness to address a very important issue Carl. I never see the Mr. Gronberg and The Herald Sun bringing-up the prior transgressions of any Whites (even when they're actively running for an office. I'm a private citizen not in this election). The News and Observer did a wonderful write-up. Since the "Durham" paper is determined to continually speak of events about me, which stem from 2002, let me provide a brief of of some of my current community involvements here in Durham. It's time to finally present both sides:

    Darius Little

    1. Member, White Rock Baptist Church

    -In Sunday School, Bible Study and Prayer Meetings, weekly. Also active in the Shepard-Womack-Williams Missionary Circle where we help the homeless, sick, etc. And I am an assistant Sunday School Teacher.

    References: Rev. Thelma Battle, former Hillside High School Principal; Dr. John Lucas, former Hillside High School Principal; Pastor, Rev. Dr. Reginald Van Stephens.

    2. Vice President, Durham County New Hope Baptist Union Young Adult Department

    3. State Young Adult Liaison, General Baptist State Convention

    4. Volunteer Tutor/Mentor: Durham Public Schools, at CC Spaulding and Fayetteville Street Elementary School (the past 5 years, weekly)

    5. Volunteer: Red Cross (Blood Drive Assistant)

    6. Member: Durham Library Foundation

    7. Appointee: (4 years running for the City): Durham Workforce Development Board Youth Council

    8. Member: Durham Inter Neighborhood Council

    9. Member: NC Young Democrats

    10. CONSISTENT and ACTIVE Member: Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People

    11. Member: Durham People's Alliance (I seek to establish common ground and communication between DCABP and PA - says a lot about me, the young guy under 35, taking the lead while everyone else sits back and argues at one another....)

    12. Member: Durham League of Women Voters

    13. Member: Durham Pauli Murray Project

    14. Member: Durham Police Dept. PAC4

    15. Donor/Volunteer: Genesis Home

    16. Donor: TROSA

    17. Member, Central Children's Home Alumni Association

    18. Member, Vice President: JF Webb High School Alumni Association

    19. LIFE Member, UNC Chapel Hill General Alumni Association

    20. Member, UNC Rams Club (Athletic Booster and Donor)

    21. Just joined (after attending several meetings): James E. Shepard Sertoma Club

    And Politically, I've helped the campaigns of several, currently elected officials in Durham, including the Judiciary.

    But the Herald Sun has to keep living in acts of survival I engaged in, which occurred in 2002 - shortly after I had just gotten out of the orphanage in Oxford, living on my own and trying to survive.

    22. Owner and Founder: Little's Executive Business Consulting; a Federally Registered entity. I started the company, myself and have been operating, with several staff, for over 6 years. I donate to organizations throughout Durham, and help seniors with rent, utilities, bills, etc.

    I'll stop there. I'm doing far more good than almost anyone in the Under-35-year-old age bracket.

    Yet Mr. Gronberg thinks he can call/text me when he wants some scoop in the Black Community. As everyone else, I'll be ignoring him for eternity.

  2. Has anyone asked Gronberg about his limited listing of Little's past? Were other, more positive, references edited out of his article? Or was it, indeed, as you have intimated, an attempt to cast aspersions on anything emanating from Little?

    As to Little's comments above about the newspapers never mentioning past criminal convictions or other transgressions of whites running for office, I would like to hear his examples so I can lend my voice to his outrage.

    That said, I commend Little for his community work and involvement. Seeking a better path is laudable.