City panel aims to oust member
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Saturday, September 14, 2019
The Rocky Mount Human Relations Commission is recommending the City Council remove a voting commissioner, citing the commissioner having gone on social media supporting a local businessman’s posting another commissioner considers insensitive to African-Americans.
The commission, in a meeting on Wednesday, took the action against Commissioner Steve Stevenson, an attorney in Rocky Mount and who once chaired the state Human Relations Commission.
Local Human Relations Commissioner Curmilus Dancy, who is a blogger and a videographer, recorded the meeting, which showed Commissioner Nehemiah Smith taking issue with a comment on Facebook by Rocky Mount native Randy Adcox.
The posting by Adcox attached remarks from Booker T. Washington to support Adcox’s argument that Washington, in his time more than a century ago, called out African-Americans who would stoop to use their peers as pawns in a power struggle.
Adcox wrote he believes with all that has transpired in 100 years, one would think it would be impossible for certain African-American leaders to exploit their fellow African-American citizens for political gain.
“And yet, it continues,” Adcox wrote.
Washington was a prominent spokesman for African-Americans from the late 1890s to the early 1900s.
On Facebook, Stevenson responded to Adcox’s posting by writing he believes the situation is one of power and control delegated by those who keep them in poverty, servitude and victimization.
“Those leaders have constantly been exposed for subjugating their followers to victimhood for over 100 years and yet history continues to repeat itself,” Stevenson wrote. “The amazing part is the relative success leaders have in projecting the consequences of their action onto others.”
Stevenson wrote he believed an entire race and a political party have been demonized in the process.
During the Human Relations Commission meeting, Smith told his fellow commissioners, “First of all, it’s good to know that I’ve been in this black skin almost 50 years and Mr. Adcox is more of an expert on black folks than I am.”
And Smith said of Adcox’s and Stevenson’s comments on Facebook, “This runs adverse to what we’re trying to do.”
Smith also said he believes Washington’s statement was taken out of context by Adcox and had to do with to an ongoing argument with early 20th Century African-American activist W.E.B. DuBois.
“And that’s extremely opinionated, too,” Commission Co-Chairman Linwood Williams said in supporting Smith.
Smith particularly took issue with Adcox also commenting on Facebook he believes no ethnic group on the planet has been as cruel and heartless to its own people as some in the African-American community.
“Black folk didn’t create abject slavery nor any other things that came after it, the poverty that came along with it, the miseducation that came along with it,” Smith said. “We didn’t do any of that. We were subjugated to it.”
The Human Relations Commission’s purpose is to promote harmony, respect and understanding among all people.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Smith tried to lead a vote to have the commission prohibit Stevenson from continuing to serve as a commissioner.
City Human Relations Director Archie Jones, representing the municipal government at the meeting, advised commissioners they could make a recommendation to the council in the matter of Stevenson.
Jones also suggested concerned commissioners and the parties involved could meet and get a chance to hear both sides.
After much discussion, Williams made clear he was not going to carry Smith’s motion, based on his interpretation of rules of order.
However, Williams said of Adcox’s and Stevenson’s Facebook postings, “All those comments and the response are very egregious.” Egregious is defined as shocking.
“I tend to agree with you also to think that a person of that mindset on this commission is very counterproductive,” Williams told Smith.
Smith made a second motion. That was followed by a vote, without dissent, for recommending the council remove Stevenson.
Adcox, 60, who lives in the Dortches community in Nash County, told the Telegram he was astounded after watching the video of the commission meeting.
“There was, to me, a glaring lack of any kind of formality,” Adcox said. “It seemed to be almost a free for all. There was a glaring lack of civility.
“At times, it got just downright ugly. It certainly did not reflect on the Human Relations Commission in a good light,” Adcox said, noting he believes the commission has done good work in the past.
Adcox said that, “This action now to exclude someone with a differing opinion is just unconscionable, in my opinion.”
He also said he was surprised by Williams’ labeling of his Facebook posting.
“There was no intent on my part to offend anybody,” he said. “I was merely just stating a parallel that I saw in history.”
Stevenson told the Telegram he has made initial contact with the office of an attorney specializing in suing municipalities, seeking counsel from that attorney, and is awaiting a return phone call.
Of what happened at the commission meeting, Stevenson said, “The biggest thing that upsets me is I had an inkling that something was up.
“And I called and spoke with Archie Jones — and told him that I was not going to be coming to the meeting because I didn’t want to fall into an ambush,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson also said Dancy is ineligible to serve on the commission because he does not live in Rocky Mount.
Stevenson said he believes Dancy’s position should have been declared vacant and Dancy’s vote on Wednesday should be voided.
Dancy not being a resident of the city was reported by the Telegram in early April.
The Telegram reported that, based on discussion at a City Council workshop, Dancy, the local NAACP’s representative to the commission, would continue serving until the civil rights organization could appoint a new representative at its next monthly meeting.
Dancy is known for boasting online about being an agitator. Dancy also is known for labeling whites he disagrees with as “Special C’s” and labeling African-Americans he disagrees with as “Ignant Safe Black Folk.”
As for Wednesday’s commission meeting, Stevenson said, “I mean, the whole thing was a setup to provide Mr. Dancy with a video to say, ‘I got me a Special C,’ in my opinion.”
Stevenson, 57, was chairman of the state Human Relations Commission under previous Gov. Pat McCrory. Stevenson is presently on the commission as state House Speaker Tim Moore’s representative.