The leader of a local Facebook page blasted public criticism of his social media site made late last month by the son of a city councilman — and the councilman fired back with a speech.
During the public input phase of Monday’s council meeting, Warren Daughtridge, of LoveRockyMount, took issue with remarks made during the public input phase of the Oct. 28 council meeting by Councilman Reuben Blackwell’s son Cooper Blackwell.
“I won’t call any names, but there was a person in this room whose son called my group out and me personally as a white supremacist — and he was applauded for that online, in public,” Daughtridge said. “He and others like him think people like me who are only trying to do good are against them.
“And they need to know one thing and one thing only — 17 years ago, I swore an oath to protect and defend you, to defend all of you, to defend my country — with my life, if necessary.”
Daughtridge, who served in the Navy, said although he is honorably discharged, he considers that oath still in effect. He told of presently reading a book titled, “You are worth it,” which is about a heroic Marine, Kyle Carpenter, who threw himself on a grenade to save his teammates.
“Mr. Mayor, mayor-elect and City Council-persons elect and my fellow citizens, it’s time to cut the crap,” he said. “It’s time to come together as a community, as a community team.
“It’s time we recognize we are all in this together,” he said. “It’s time to stop blaming others for which none of us can control. It’s time to recognize teamwork starts with you and with me. It’s time to commit to jump on a grenade for each other when it becomes necessary.”
And he said, “It’s time to work together to make Rocky Mount the jewel of the east.”
He said he believes the city on the banks of the Tar River has everything needed to be the example not only for Nash County, Edgecombe County and North Carolina, but the nation.
Reuben Blackwell countered by saying he has tried his best to be intelligent and respectful in his communication and dialogue and honest at all times.
Blackwell, the CEO of the Opportunities Industrialization Center, cited a nearly 40-year history in Rocky Mount in his work, his heart, his commitment to Jesus Christ and his commitment to the city.
Blackwell told Daughtridge, “My children have grown up in a household where they have seen their dad disrespected, called names, made fun of on your website, your social media site ... And when you come here in this public square inferring comments that I know who you’re talking about, my son, said — he responded to black and white dialogues that were made on your social media site.”
Blackwell said he never responded to those comments because he chooses not to fight in that arena and said he stands behind his and the municipal government’s work.
“And if you want to deny that there is a racialized element in all of the city of Rocky Mount, and if you want to deny that folk have come down to this city intentionally attacking leaders of color — policies that we’ve held — and if you want to deny that the comments that have come here have not been racialized, then I’ll let you sit with that truth,” Reuben Blackwell said.
Reuben Blackwell also told Daughtridge it is incorrect to think he can say whatever he wants to say and do whatever he wants to do and not be held accountable for that.
“And if you want the negative talk to stop, then stop throwing the grenades,” he said.
Reuben Blackwell also said his father and other members of his family served in the military, said he knows what heroes look like and said he chose to do his public service in the municipal government sector.
“And as a dad of a young man, growing up, trying to be socially conscious and true to his convictions and intelligent in his discourse — as a dad, you will not cross that line with my son,” Reuben Blackwell said. “And his observations are not incorrect and not without merit. Now, he’s 24 and he’s fiery. I wonder where he got that from, but he’s 24.
“And if you want to treat a 24-year-old like a 60-year-old like I am, then you need to go check something else yourself, OK?” Reuben Blackwell said.
Resident and activist Johnny Cunningham, who also addressed the council, talked about the humbleness council members, especially Blackwell, have shown him.
“I said some mean things to that man,” Cunningham said. “I was one of ‘em, on that side, but what he just said is correct.”
Cunningham added, “I didn’t know what humbleness was until Mr. Blackwell, Mr. Knight and Mr. Joyner and others – Mr. Dancy – forgave me.”
Cunningham was referring to Councilman Andre Knight, Councilman Richard Joyner and blogger and videographer Curmilus Dancy II.
He said he was mad and stuck on the subject of black poverty.
“But not one time did you or you or you retaliate or say anything nasty, negative, mean or derogatory or demeaning to me,” he said.