Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

Girl Scouts Honor Dorothy Counts-Scoggins in Weekly News Roundup
May 26 - June 1

By Ryan Pitkin

June 2, 2019

Nearly 62 years after she was jeered and spit on while walking down Irwin Avenue on her way to integrating Harding High School as a 15-year-old child in 1957, Dorothy Counts-Scoggins was cheered by students and teachers as she walked the same street on Friday on her way to a bench dedication ceremony in her honor. 

Counts-Scoggins walked hand-in-hand with two Girl Scouts, Maya McClain and Morgan Winston of Troop 569, who organized the bench dedication. Both girls earned the Bronze Award for their work on the project, the highest honor a junior Girl Scout can receive. 

“I would like to thank Ms. Counts-Scoggins for her sacrifice,” McClain told a crowd of supporters and media. “Her bravery in the face of brutal racism helped break down racial barriers, so now I can climb these same steps.”

From left: Morgan Winston, Dorothy Counts-Scoggins and Maya McClain walk Irwin Avenue, which is lined with supporters. (Photo by Alvin C. Jacobs Jr.)

The bench is now located at Irwin Avenue Academy, formerly the site of Harding High School. In 2017, I spoke with Counts-Scoggins in the lead-up to the 60th anniversary of her pioneering walk on Sept. 4, 1957, and she said she enjoys retelling the story at schools more than anywhere else. 

“A lot of [students] have no knowledge, they don’t know,” she said, “and I need them to understand that even if a lot of things have changed now in education, a lot of things have happened as a result of people making sacrifices so they could have a better education. I just want them to know that.” 


Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 363 into law on Thursday, bringing a successful end to the years-long Craft Freedom movement that pitted larger North Carolina breweries like Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and NoDa Brewing Company against wholesalers. 

The new legislation will double the amount of beer state brewers are able to sell, deliver and ship at wholesale from 25,000 barrels to 50,000. Newly classified “midsize independent craft breweries” will be allowed to brew 100,000 barrels under the new legislation, though they can only self-distribute half that. 

At a press conference upon the filing of the new legislation in March, NoDa Brewing co-owner Suzie Ford praised Tim Kent of the North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, which had opposed the Craft Freedom movement to increase the barrel cap. NoDa Brewery was a plaintiff alongside Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in a lawsuit against the state that has now been withdrawn.

“The agreement announced today between Craft Freedom and the North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers marks a new day in building a strong industry-based economic model for all in the craft beer business. Out of conflict has grown resolve to establish a framework that allows existing and new microbreweries to become economic engines for our state with a clear pathway to grow and prosper,” Ford said.

 

 


Joseph Carranti

For the second time in two weeks, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department announced the arrest of one of its own on Friday, as CMPD officer Joseph Carranti was charged with one count of false imprisonment in relation to a domestic incident that occurred the previous Friday. According to a CMPD release, Carranti allegedly restrained the victim intentionally and unlawfully while he was off duty on May 24. 

Carranti’s victim also petitioned a Mecklenburg County judge for a domestic violence protective order, which they granted. The order prohibits him from contacting the victim for 10 days. 

Carranti, 26, has been placed on unpaid administrative leave. He was hired by the department in February 2015 and was working with the DWI Task Force at the time of his arrest. 

Upon announcement of Carranti’s arrest, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney released a statement: “As officers we are charged with upholding the law. Breaking it is a violation of both the law and our oath. Anyone who breaks the law will always be held accountable for his or her actions just like any other member of our community.” 

On May 17, CMPD announced the arrest of officer Robert Milton, who was charged with child abuse after allegedly feeding alcohol to two children, ages 1 and 6, one of whom was his own child. 


The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) announced on Thursday that The Excelsior Club in west Charlotte is on the annual list of the country’s 11 most endangered historic places. After opening in 1944, The Excelsior Club was Charlotte’s premiere place for black entertainment, a noted Green Book site and host to acts like Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong. 

The building is currently owned by N.C. Rep. Carla Cunningham, who inherited the deed for the property from her husband Pete Cunningham in 2006. Last year, she filed paperwork that would allow the building to be demolished after June 12 of this year. Cunningham told the Charlotte Observer in April that it would take $400,000 to get the building repaired to a point where it was in line with building codes. 

Former owner James Ferguson speaks outside of The Excelsior Club after facing foreclosure in 2017. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

The purpose of the NTHP’s annual list is to highlight the dangers historic sites face and hopefully save them from demolition. More than 300 locations have been recognized during the list’s 32-year history, and of those, fewer than 5% have been lost.

“For over 30 years, our 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list has called attention to threatened one-of-a-kind treasures throughout the nation and galvanized Americans to help save them,” stated Katherine Malone-France, interim chief preservation officer of the NTHP, in a press release. “This year’s list reflects both the diversity of America’s historic places and the variety of threats they face. As it has over the past three decades, we know that this year’s list will inspire people to speak out for the cherished places in their own communities that define our nation’s past.”

Cunningham took the building over in 2017 after foreclosing on former owner James Ferguson. When I spoke with her then, she stated that it was her wish that the club could be renovated into a museum or some other historic site, but that she would do what was best for her. 

“I’m very aware of the historical background. I recognize that it has been a pillar in the community for a long, long time. However, business changes every day. I didn’t expect to be where I’m at, but this is where I’m at and I’m OK with it,” she said in 2017. “I want to assure the community that I’m taking them into account when I make these decisions, but I will be making a business decision. I will be looking at what I need to do for my family. I live today.”


There was one homicide in Charlotte this week, bringing the 2019 total to 52. Just after 9:30 p.m. on Monday night, police responded to Orren Court near the intersection of Nations Ford and East Arrowood roads in southwest Charlotte. Officers found 43-year-old Ever Danilo Reyes-Romero suffering from a gunshot wound in a parked car. He was pronounced dead on the scene. 

The following day, detectives arrested 23-year-old Daquarius Connor and charged him for Reyes-Romero’s murder.

Ever Danilo Reyes-Romero (Photo courtesy of Gun Memorial)

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