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“Wall Street Ride” from The Times and Democrat

"Wall Street Ride" from The Times and Democrat

“Wall Street Ride” from The Times and Democrat

“Scrubbed” from The Times and Democrat

"Scrubbed" from The Times and Democrat

“Scrubbed” from The Times and Democrat

“Upside Down” from The Times and Democrat

"Upside Down" from The Times and Democrat

“Upside Down” from The Times and Democrat


SC’s Most Famous Song: Can You Name It?

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

What if I asked you to name the most famous song that has come from South Carolina?

You’re stumped right?

About now you are scratching your head and thinking, “What could it be?”

What if I told you that the song is famous as the unofficial anthem of a huge social movement that affected tens of millions of people in America?

And what if I told you that the song had a huge impact globally and inspired tens of millions of people who sang it as a song of freedom and liberation in dozens of countries around the world?

And what if I told you that the song has even been adopted as the national anthem of a new county?

About now, I’ll bet you are feeling a little uneasy to think that you live in South Carolina and have no idea what song I’m talking about – right?

The song is We Shall Overcome.

No one knows the precise origins of the song but we do know that it was first sung as a protest song in Charleston. In 1945 the song was sung during the Food and Tobacco Workers Union strike against the American Tobacco Company, which ran the cigar factory on East Bay Street in Charleston.

This mammoth cigar factory once produced over a million cigars a day and the workers who produced them were mostly African American women, many of whom came into the city daily from the surrounding Sea Islands. They worked for low wages, in poor working conditions for long hours. And if they complained … well, you know the rest of the story.

As the five month strike dragged on, the picketing women began to sing this simple song to boost their spirits and provide encouragement to each other.

One of the supporters of the strike, a white woman named Zilphia Horton, was so moved by the song that she submitted it for the 1948 issue of the People’s Songs Bulletin. Horton was the music director of the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee and she played the song for the many people who visited the school. Among those who were captivated by the song were Pete Seeger and Guy Carawan. Carawan is credited with introducing the song to the civil rights movement when he later became music director of Highlander in 1959, as many of the movement’s leaders were in and out of the Highlander School.

Seeger made some minor modifications to the song and added some verses but most importantly, he performed the song in his 1963 world tour to 22 countries – thus he is credited with spreading the song globally. And when Joan Baez sang the song before 300,000 people at the August, 1963 March on Washington, the song forever earned its place not only in the US civil rights movement but also history.

Seven months later, President Lyndon Johnson used the phrase “we shall overcome” in his address to a joint session of Congress. He was urging support of his voting rights legislation just after the “Bloody Sunday” attack on marchers at the Pettus Bridge in their march from Selma to Montgomery.

And, on March 31, 1968, just before his assassination in Memphis, Dr. King used “we shall overcome” as the theme of his final sermon.

Beyond the United States, the song has played an important role in many popular struggles for human rights all over the world. The two best known examples were the Catholic protest in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and ‘70s and the student protests in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. It was later adopted by various anti-Communist movements in the Cold War and post-Cold War era, especially the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989.

But its global impact goes far beyond just these examples. The song has played an important role in human rights movements in India, among the Aborigines in Australia, in France, South Africa, Martinique and Guadeloupe, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Bolivia, Palestine, and many other territories and nations around the world. After their long struggle for independence, in 2002 the people of East Timor briefly made We Shall Overcome their national anthem.

So now you know.

People far more knowledgeable than I can analyze why this song took on the significance it did. Part of it is that the lyrics are simple and easy to remember and repeat; the melody is also simple and easy to adapt for most any instrument – most importantly, for the human voice.

The power of the song’s simple affirmation of hope and determination is compelling – to many people in many circumstances in many places the world over.

This simple song, first sung in our state, has inspired, moved and sustained millions around the world in their fight for dignity and freedom.

We should all be very proud of this.


Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group started by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform to South Carolina.

School choice is the solution, not the problem

By Shane McNamee

The Charleston Post and Courier recently published a five-part series, “Left Behind: The unintended consequences of school choice, in which readers are led to believe that the hardships experienced by some students at a North Charleston high school are the effects of school choice policies. For all the series’ strengths, however — poignant stories, good writing — it doesn’t deliver on its central claim. Indeed, readers will wonder how any of the stories, moving though they are, have anything to do with educational policies commonly associated with the term school choice.

The series’ logic is this: North Charleston High School has lost large numbers of students to competing charter schools. The remaining students — those “left behind” — are therefore struggling to keep up. Read the rest of this entry »

“Lifestyles” from The Times and Democrat

"Lifestyles" from The Times and Democrat

“Lifestyles” from The Times and Democrat


“Minimum Increase” from The Times and Democrat

"Minimum Increase" from The Times and Democrat

“Minimum Increase” from The Times and Democrat

“Oxymoron” from The Times and Democrat

"Oxymoron" from The Times and Democrat

“Oxymoron” from The Times and Democrat


Promise Zone: Help, Hope and Heroes

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

One of the most shameful and enduring problems in South Carolina is the huge gap between the prosperous/urban and poor/rural areas of our state. Most of these poor/rural counties lie along Interstate 95 and it has been dubbed The Corridor of Shame – and it is.

But some recent big news offers some real, long term hope for the southern part of the Corridor – it’s called the Promise Zone.

To quote from their new website, In January 2013, the Obama Administration announced a new federal Promise Zone designation program to help 20 high-poverty communities across the nation gain new tools and resources to tap into grant monies and other resources to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities and reduce violent crime and generally improve the quality of life.

In 2014, a group of 28 South Carolina nonprofit, government and business leaders, working with Andy Brack and the Center for a Better South, identified the potential that a Promise Zone designation could have for counties at the southern tip of the state that have severe poverty and huge economic challenges. After discussions with key leaders, Danny Black and the Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance agreed to take the lead in developing an application to try to win a Promise Zone designation.

In April, the group was notified that it had received the official Promise Zone designation. Our Zone will be one of only two Promise Zones chosen in a rural area. (Full disclosure: I work with EnvisionSC, a new initiative to make South Carolina ‘world class and globally connected’ and we are one of the partner organizations supporting the Promise Zone.)

The six SC Promise Zone counties are Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties – home to over 90,000 South Carolinians. In these counties, 28% live in poverty and the median household income is $32,705, or 25% less than South Carolina’s income level and 45% less than the United States average. As one would expect, educational attainment and employment rates are also low among residents and quality affordable housing is very scarce.

The way the program works is that the leadership of the Promise Zone will craft a long term strategic plan to develop the area, and then organizations within the Zone can apply for federal funding for special projects and receive preferential treatment for their grant application. In short, most any community group in the Zone that applies for federal grants to support their work goes to the head of the line. And, this special treatment lasts for 10 years, long enough to really begin to have a positive impact.

Now, some will say that this is just another “government give away” and the counties will be overrun by folks from Washington saying “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

It doesn’t work that way. It’s about supporting local people who are struggling mightily to improve their communities and need all the help they can get – from anywhere they can get it.

Just one example is Wilbur Cave. He’s a friend of mine and he’s a Super Hero. Though he doesn’t wear a cape and a mask, he’s still a real live hero.

Wilbur is from Allendale County, one of the poorest of these poor counties. He grew up there, did well and got himself elected to the S.C. Legislature. But unlike so many folks that go to Columbia and never come home, Wilbur did come home. Instead of staying in ‘the big city’ with all the opportunities he went back to Allendale and went to work to try and improve the lives of the people he grew up with. To me, that makes him a Super Hero.

In 1998, he started Allendale County ALIVE, Inc., a non-profit Community Development Corporation. It is a grassroots organization that brought together residents concerned with what was seen as a general decline in the county. They decided to initially focus on providing affordable housing and incubating small business and then they went to work on a whole host of other activities to provide jobs and stimulate economic development.

One day I asked Wilbur what they needed most; his answer was short and simple. He said “everything.” And indeed they do. The Promise Zone counties need everything, from anyone at any time because for so long they got nothing. For generations, they have been ignored, abused, by-passed, discriminated against and simply treated shamefully, i.e. the Corridor of Shame.

But despite it all, there are plenty of heroes like Wilbur who are committed and work to improve their communities every day. There are literally several hundred heroes in the Zone. I know because I’ve seen them and talked with lots of them. Last month the Promise Zone leaders held community meetings in each of the five counties and these local heroes came out to learn more about the Zone and how they can get involved.

Every one of them is a hero because despite it all, they are still hopeful with big ideas and dreams for their counties and their children. And most of all, they are willing to work to make their hopes and dreams become reality. That’s what heroes do.

Will the Promise Zone project turn the Corridor of Shame in to the Corridor of Pride? Maybe – at least they are making a good start.

At a time when it’s so popular for politicians to berate the federal government and ridicule their efforts to do anything, the Promise Zone offers some real hope.

I’m not betting on the federal government, but I’m betting on Wilbur – and the dozens of other local heroes who are working day in and day out to build the Corridor of Pride.

God bless ‘em.


Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group founded by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform.

Posipanko leaves lasting legacy

Emily Goodman (

The Johnsonian, August 20

Men’s soccer Head Coach, Rich Posipanko, has been involved in soccer since he was 8 years old, which is why stepping down as head coach after this season won’t be easy.

“I have been involved as a player or coach every fall for the past 55 years. I’m sure there will be a few tears those two last games on Oct. 31 here at Winthrop and then the last regular season game at Longwood on Nov. 7,”  Posipanko said.

Posipanko has an overall career record of 380-267-57, three Big South Conference Coach of the year wins and has lead the Eagles to five championship wins.

“My most favorite championship would be the 2008 team, because they were really good and, to be perfectly honest, should have accomplished more,” he said.

The Eagles Head Coach of 27 years will leave Winthrop with no regrets once the 2015-2016 season ends.

Rich Posipanko at a practice before the soccer season began. Jacob Hallex/ The Johnsonian

Rich Posipanko at a practice before the soccer season began. Jacob Hallex/ The Johnsonian

“I leave knowing that I gave Winthrop everything I had.  I wore many different hats, and it was a lot of work but I would do it all over again.”

Winthrop University Athletic Director, Tom Hickman, said that Posipanko has left a lasting impact on the Men’s Soccer program.

“He has made a big impact on the program with the work he has done and the money he has raised to develop and improve the soccer fields, often times doing most of the field work himself just to make certain that it is done to his specifications,” Hickman said.

In the last 27 years at Winthrop, Posipanko has five championship wins and has appeared in the NCAA College Cup five times.  The last NCAA College Cup game vs. SMU advanced the Eagles to round 32 for the first time in school history.

“The most exciting game and most memorable game that I have been involved with as a player or over the past 40 years as a college coach, was the 7-6 game against Radford University,” Posipanko said. “This game was against my good friend Spencer Smith, who was the Radford head coach for 16 years and is now our Women’s Soccer coach at Winthrop.”

Posipanko made the announcement that he would be stepping down as head coach of the Men’s Soccer team in May.

“I still don’t know if it is the right decision, but I feel 40 years as a college coach has been a good career.  I am also fortunate and feel grateful that I was able to make this decision on my own terms, which is not always the case with coaches in today’s athletics.”

With this being his last season, Posipanko finds himself in the same role as the seniors on the team.

“I told the seniors that we are in the same position, trying to win one more championship in our last year,” he said.

Posipanko has spent time fundraising for the American Cancer Society along with raising over $250,000 for the Winthrop soccer program.

“I still plan on helping with fundraising for the soccer program and continuing my volunteer work with raising money for cancer research through the Carolinas Kickin’ It Challenge. I just want to continue with something where I can make a difference in people’s lives,” said the head coach.

He started his coaching career at Longwood University and will face The Lancers in his last regular season game with Winthrop.

“This game will mean a lot.  I am very grateful that Longwood took a chance on a coach who thought he knew everything.  We inherited a program that was 0-14-0 and four years later was nationally ranked and remained there for the next seven years before I came to Winthrop.”

Posipanko became Winthrop’s winningest coach in 2002 with his 134th win.  In the 2007 season he joined a group that only 52 coaches in NCAA history are apart of, 300 career wins. For the last 26 years, his teams have maintained a GPA of around 3.0.

“Rich’s impact on the soccer program is a legacy of consistent success.  He has set a standard of excellence for Winthrop Men’s soccer (both athletically and academically) and it will be the job of the next coach to maintain that level of program respectability,” said Hickman.

The Eagles begin their 2015-2016 regular season play at home on Aug. 28 against Brevard College.  Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.


Winthrop’s Dan Mahony takes office

Story By Carolyn Rennix (

Photo by Jacob Hallex (

The Johnsonian, August 20, 2015

Winthrop University’s 11th President prepares for Welcome Week, fall semester

Like so many of the hundreds of freshmen piling into the Richardson and Wofford Residence Halls, Dr. Daniel Mahony is feeling anxious and excited for a new year at Winthrop University.

But Mahony isn’t feeling nervous about the friends he will make or the Biology course he has at 8 a.m. He is preparing to lead the faculty, staff and student body as Winthrop University’s 11th president.

With “Welcome Week” and the start of classes quickly approaching, Mahony said that he is most looking forward to the community’s excitement as it prepares for the year ahead.

“It’s important to get everything off to a good start, and I want everything to run smoothly, but I also want to take advantage of that excitement and build a lot more enthusiasm among everybody,” he said.

Dan Mahony is the 11th president of Winthrop University. His first term started in July of 2015. Jacob Hallex/ The Johnsonian

Dan Mahony is the 11th president of Winthrop University. His first term began in July of 2015. Jacob Hallex/ The Johnsonian

After a nearly six-month search, a pooling of almost 80 applicants, several in-person interviews and campus visits from the three finalists, the board of trustees unanimously selected Mahony as the University’s 11th president on March 13.

Just four months later, Mahony, his wife Laura and their two children moved into the president’s house on Oakland Avenue on July 1.

Despite the various meetings and the abundance of interviews, Mahony still found time to explore Rock Hill and get acquainted with the campus during his first few weeks on the job.

His daughter, Elena, 15, dove right into the campus activities and enrolled in Winthrop’s basketball camp, and his son, Gavin, 12, participated in a wrestling camp at Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill.

Mahony happily said that both of his kids are making friends and adjusting to the area very well.

Mahony’s family also went to the Fourth of July event “Red, White and BOOM!” and ate the local favorite “Food Truck Friday” in Old Town.

“We have been out in the community quite a bit and have been able to meet a lot of people,” Mahony said.

Before accepting the position at Winthrop, Mahony was the dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

Kent State’s enrollment in 2014 was approximately 29,477 students, nearly five times the amount of graduate and undergraduate students at Winthrop, according to the university’s website.

However, Mahony says that his transition — though from a much larger school — has been smooth due to the openness from the Winthrop community.

“People have been very open and honest, and it’s a very welcoming community, so that has made it very easy,” he said. “When you come into a new place, sometimes people don’t tell you everything, but here people have told me a lot, and that openness and honesty is really appreciated.”

One of the board of trustee’s top priorities from the beginning of the presidential search was increasing fundraising efforts, which Mahony did not hesitate to start. On day one, he was making phone calls and connecting with potential donors.

“We will be doing even more visits and going out at least every three or four months with large groups of alumni and friends,” he said. “We will really be reaching out and making those connections, which will help increase fundraising over the long term.”

Mahony also plans to have a greater presence in Columbia to help secure more money from the South Carolina legislature.

Mahony said that his top priorities during the fall semester are to set up focus groups to evaluate where the university is going and to get everyone involved in this process.

“Getting all of those groups off to a good start and being clear about what we want to try to accomplish is important,” he said. “We will also go through a pretty strategic planning process to start finding ways to get everyone involved, and my goal is that everyone will have an opportunity for input.”

But Mahony’s main priority is speaking one-on-one with the Winthrop community and to hear their thoughts on what needs to be changed on campus.

“I want to continue going out and listening like I have been doing,” he said. “And now that the faculty, staff and students will be back, it will be a lot easier to go out and meet with them.”

Mahony also hopes to work with businesses in Charlotte and Rock Hill to further increase the already high internship and job opportunities for students.

“One of the things that is interesting is that students are getting more internships and work experience here than they are at other schools,” he said. “So there are a lot of opportunities and connections we can make that would expand that even more.”

But it’s not fundraising, making connections or attending meetings that Mahony is most looking forward to; it is going to the student events and getting to know the student body that makes him so eager to begin the year.

“Whether it is athletics — I also love the theater and music events — there are a lot of fun things I will get to do as president, even though it’s part of my job.”


Ethics Commission Finds Probable Cause against Lawmaker, Then Drops Case

By Rick Brundrett for
August 19, 2015

The State Ethics Commission recently found probable cause that freshman Rep. Greg Duckworth violated state ethics law by not properly recusing himself from a North Myrtle Beach project while he was a city councilman.

But the commission issued no sanctions against the Horry County Republican after allowing him to file required recusal forms with the city – more than two years to nearly four years after the fact, according to city records obtained this week by The Nerve under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the commission’s July 13 order.

“We basically thought we could highlight something we felt wasn’t above board, but the Ethics Commission has no interest,” said Charles Collins of Horry County, who, along with his wife Bren Gibson, filed an ethics complaint in November against Duckworth, when contacted Tuesday byThe Nerve. “The whitewashing of the whole thing is a disgrace.” Read the rest of this entry »

“New J School Rule” from The Times and Democrat

"New J School Rule" from The Times and Democrat

“New J School Rule” from The Times and Democrat

“All The Time” from The Times and Democrat

"All The Time" by The Times and Democrat

“All The Time” from The Times and Democrat

“Disparaging Clowns” from The Times and Democrat

"Disparaging Clowns" from The Times and Democrat

“Disparaging Clowns” from The Times and Democrat

“Cuba 2015” by Stuart Neiman

Jimmy Carter – A Life of Simple Virtue

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

It was announced this week that Jimmy Carter has cancer. I don’t know what will happen or if it will cut short his life – though I’m not sure “cut short” applies to a man that is 90 years old.

The one thing I do know is that Carter will deal with his illness just as he has lived – with courage, determination, good humor and faith.

In an era of venal politics and personal vilification as practiced by too many on both the left and right, Jimmy Carter and his character are all the more unusual and compelling. Simply put, he is a good and decent man with an abiding Christian faith who in his life and career has simply sought to do the right thing for the right reason. That reason was he simply believed it was the right thing to do.

It may sound a bit old fashioned — and it’s certainly not a term you will hear from the Acela-corridor elites who have never really liked him – but Carter has simply led a virtuous life.

First a little context. Carter was an unknown one-term governor of Georgia when he announced for president in 1974. The reaction was best captured by the leading newspaper in his home state which ran a headline the day after his announcement that proclaimed, “Jimmy Who Is Running For What!?”

Carter ran in the immediate aftermath of Watergate, when the country was fed up with lying politicians in Washington – AKA Richard Nixon and his crew. Carter famously said, ‘I’ll never tell a lie,’ and it’s a sad commentary that he was maligned by many of the nation’s pundits for saying so.

Carter’s campaign was politically very savvy. He ran as an outsider and reformer and was the first presidential candidate to focus on the Iowa Caucus, which he won largely because his innate decency and peanut farmer roots resonated with voters in rural Iowa. And when he then won the New Hampshire primary and a succession of other contests, the other more well known candidates, mostly Washington politicians, began to drop out of the race one by one.

He went on to defeat Gerald Ford, the first incumbent president to be defeated since Herbert Hoover lost in 1932 during the depths of the Great Depression.

As president, Carter had his share of successes, such as the historic Israel–Egypt peace accord that he personally negotiated at Camp David and a bold new energy policy that began to wean the country off of foreign oil. He took some tough, unpopular stands that history has mostly  vindicated, such as his strong advocacy of human rights, turning over the canal to Panama and the pardoning those who had evaded the Vietnam-era draft.

But in the end, Carter’s presidency was overshadowed by the taking of 52 American hostages by radicals in Iran shouting “Death to America – the great Satan.” And when a rescue effort ended in failure, it all seemed to be a metaphor for what Ronald Reagan called Carter’s failed presidency.

Upon leaving the White House, Carter created a new model of a post-presidency. He established the Carter Center to promote human rights, the spread of democracy and to tackle diseases in the developing world. The list of the Carter Center’s achievements is far too long to recount here but one notable achievement has been the virtual elimination of guinea worm disease, or river blindness, which has afflicted millions of people a year in Africa since time immemorial.

It was hard unglamorous work done away from the glare of TV cameras and celebrity activists. It was simply and quietly fighting a debilitating disease of near forgotten people – typical of the work of the Carter Center and the man himself. And, there has never been a scandal about where the Carter Center got its money nor how that money was spent.

Many have said that Carter was a better ex-president than he was a president; perhaps, but I’ll leave that to historians to decide. I do know that four US presidents have received the Nobel Peace Prize but only one, Carter in 2002, has received the prize for his post-presidency activities.

I have always been attracted to Carter as a fellow Southerner and as a politician who embodied so many positive traditional Southern values. First, the politics: in 1976, he won every state of the old Confederacy except Virginia and he carried South Carolina with over 56% of the vote ranking SC 4th of the 50 states with the largest Democratic majority. No other Democratic presidential candidate has even carried South Carolina since.

Carter embodied the old values of faith, family and community. Anyone who makes even the most surface examination of Carter realizes that his Christian faith is the bedrock of who he is, how he defines himself and it provides the moral compass that guides his everyday life. Even today, whenever he is back in his beloved hometown of Plains, he  teaches Sunday school at the Maranatha Baptist Church.

Though some on the right  seem to think they can claim a franchise on family values – Carter and his beloved wife Rosalynn have been the personification of real family values for the 70 years of their marriage. And community? Well, what can you say about someone who still lives nearly in sight of the graveyard where generations of his family are buried and can probably call by name every one of the 755 white and black souls who live in Plains?

Yes, Carter may lack the presidential success of Bill Clinton or the personal charisma of Barack Obama. But, at the end of the day, he is an honest and decent man who kept us out of foreign wars, cared for those in the world least able to care for themselves and told the truth. Few presidents of either party can claim to have done the same.

Yes, Jimmy Carter’s is a life of simple virtue.


Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and President of the SC New Democrats, an independent reform group founded by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform.

Required Ethics Training for State Workers Underway

By Rick Brundrett for
August 13, 2015

The new state Department of Administration paid about $61,000 for a web-based training program on ethics that some 24,000 state employees will have to watch, The Nerve confirmed last week.

Under a 2014 executive order by Gov. Nikki Haley establishing the “State Employee Code of Conduct Task Force,” which made the training recommendations, the instruction is mandatory for workers in the governor’s 17 Cabinet agencies and Governor’s Office.

A House bill (H. 3237) this year would have mandated that all newly elected state and local officials complete at least four hours of ethics instruction provided by the State Ethics Commission. Newly elected House and Senate members would have been required to receive the same instruction through their respective chambers’ ethics committees, under the legislation.

The bill never made it out of the House Judiciary Committee. Read the rest of this entry »

Reputation by The Times and Democrat

Political Junkie by The Times and Democrat