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THE VOICE OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY
THE WEEK OF MAY 8 1997
VOLUME 22 NO. 34
75 CENTS
ALSO SERVING CABARRUS, CHESTER, ROWAN AND YORK COUNTIES
Greene
Greene
denies
assault
By John Minter
THE CHARLOTTE POST
The “Thrilla in Manila” it
wasn’t.
Charlotte City Council mem
ber Malachi Greene denied
striking businessman Troy
Watson
Tuesday
after Watson
called him a
liar. Greene
apologized to
his con
stituents for
the now-infa-
mous con
frontation at
McDonald’s
Cafeteria,
hut said he only grabbed
Watson.
Watson filed assault charges
against Greene after the inci
dent at the Tuesday Morning
Breakfast Club. Watson
alleges Greene threw him to
the floor and punched him
several times. 'The confronta
tion occurred as Greene talked
about plans to save
McDonald’s Cafeteria.
“I did not hit Mr. Watson,”
Greene told
reporters at
Renaissance
Place restau
rant. “I did
not put Mr.
Watson in a
head lock or
a half nel
son.”
Greene says
he reached
across two
rows of seats to pull Watson
out of his chair, but they were
separated.
Watson would not talk about
the incident Wednesday. “It
will all come out in court,” he
said. “There's no secret what
happened.”
Tuesday Morning Breakfast
Club, formed in the ‘70s as an
informal gathering of the
city’s African American com
munity leaders, has had its
share of confrontations, but
none that have gone this far.
Greene’s attorney, Frank
Creft, said his client would
not be able to discuss the inci
dent in detail because of the
pending charges. Greene must
appear at an administrative
hearing June 4. He is charged
with assault and battery,
affray and aggressive physical
force. He faces up to 30 days
in jail and a $250 fine if con
victed.
“The actions that did occur
were not intended to inflict
injury, threaten or harm Mr.
See TUSSLE on page 2A
Watson
PHOTO/CALVIN FERGUSON
Barber-Scotla College senior Gena Watkins sold her house four years ago for a chance to earn a college
degree. Now 31, she’ll graduate Saturday with a 3.98 grade point average.
Pomp, circumstance
Graduates take the
uontraditional route
By Jeri Young
THE CHARLOTTE POST
Joanne Saulsberry is waiting by the phone.
A graduating senior at Winthrop University,
Saulsberry, who earned a 4.0 grade point average, is
waiting to see if she will be class valedictorian.
She is giddy, the elementary education major
admits.
“I can’t stop thinking about it,” she says, pausing
only briefly to take a breath. “Oh God, I can not
describe it. Tm elated.”
Saulsberry, 21, an accomplished musician, has been
married for a year, which makes her accomplishments
even more startling.
“It was tough,” she says. “It took balance. I had to
balance the needs of my husband and home with the
demands of school.”
She is one of thousands of nontraditional graduates
that will hear “Pomp and Circumstance” this week.
Students like Saulsberry make up an estimated 28
percent of graduating seniors from public colleges and
22 percent of graduates from private institutions,
according to the U.S. Department of Education.
For four years or more, many of them have struggled
to get that elusive sheepskin.
For non-traditional students, the demands of under
graduate education are pressing.
Unlike traditional students, nontraditional students
often have dependents or spouses to care for and often
pay for school themselves. They are generally older
than other students and have a difficult time adjusting
on insular college campuses. It’s challenging, but for
many it’s just the beginning.
Barber-Scotia College senior Gena Watkins is also
holding her breath. She sold her home and started col
lege at age 27. Always a good student, Watkins spent
several years working after high school, but she want
ed a college education.
“I can’t put it into words,” Watkins says. “It’s more
See SENIORS on page 2A
PHOTO/OALVIN FERGUSON
Elizabeth Murray will earn a degree at age 64.
Degree is best Mothers’ Day
gift for 64-year-old graduate
By Herbert L. White
THE CHARLOTTE POST
Sunday is going to be a big day for Elizabeth
Murray.
Sure, it’s Mothers’ Day, but it’s also gradua
tion day for Murray, who’s earning a sociology
degree from Johnson C. Smith University at
age 64.
“All this great excitement,” said Murray,
who turns 65 June 12. “What a time.”
The road to graduation has been difficult at
times. After graduating from Central
See GRADUATION on page 3A
Muhammad
speaks for local
Nation of Islam
By John Minter
THE CHARLOTTE POST
“Mama, I love you,” little Tyrone Withers would
say as he hugged his grandmother’s neck almost
every day. Always he smiled, she recalled.
'That earned him the nickname Smiley.
Others recall Tyrone as the shy, quiet and bookish
student who graduated from East Mecklenburg High
School in 1984.
Today, Tyrone Withers is Minister Robert
Muhammad, 30, leader of the Nation of Islam’s
Charlotte mosque and reading rooms throughout the
area.
Sickly as a child with asthma, Muhammad stands
tall and straight as an adult, speaking forcefully on
behalf of the Nation of Islam.
His leadersliip has brought Charlotte its first fully-
recognized mosque since the mid-’70s. The NOI is an
accepted part of the community, with regular partici
pation in grassroots anti-crime and neighborhood
revitahzation efforts. Membership is growing, but
equally important is the acceptance and respect
among non-Muslims.
“We are showing the city we are here to stay and to
help in the way we know to be successful,”
Muhammad said. “We are accepted as being helpers
of the community, particularly, for example, the
Cummings Avenue community.”
Muhammad says he sees his role as an ambassador
for the Nation of Islam, on his job at Central
Piedmont Community College and wherever he
comes in contact with non-Muslims.
“I watch what Minister (Louis) Farrakhan does
nationally and internationally,” Muhammad said. “I
try to do that locally.”
'Though employed at CPCC, Muhammad says his
service to the Nation is his full-time job. He’s a finan
cial aid and veterans affairs specialist at CPCC, but
is moving more into the maintenance of computers, a
passion lx)m during a brief stint at IBM’s Charlotte
facility.
‘T consider this my primary job,” Muhammad said
of his ministry. “If I left CPCC, I would survive. You
don’t compromise what you beheve in and what you
stand for.”
Muhammad’s grandmother, Jesse Withers, raised
him from age 6 months, marveling at his inteUigence
and love for his fellow man. He would spend summer
See MUHAMMAD on page 3A
PHOTO/OALVIN FERGUSON
Robert Muhammad has been a high-profile leader
of the Nation of Islam in Charlotte.
Wilkinson targeted for boost
PHOTO/OALVIN FERGUSON
Wilkinson Boulevard would get a $25 million economic boost if a
Charlotte Chamber idea is accepted by Charlotte’s city council.
Under the plan, a public-private venture would bring a businesss
park to the west Charlotte area.
By John Minter
THE CHARLOTTE POST
One of the city’s main west-
side corridors would get a $25
million economic boost if a
Charlotte Chamber idea is suc
cessful.
The Chamber has asked the
city to participate in a plan that
could bring a 60-acre business
park to Wilkinson Boulevard, a
major corridor between uptown
and the airport.
'The park could also be impor
tant to the revitalization of the
City Within A City area, the
oldest developed part of the cify
generally defined as within 4
miles of uptown. Initial projec
tions predict the park would
have up to 10 businesses and
employ as many as 600 people.
The city’s contribution would be
$200,000 for infrastructme and
pre-development spending, such
as site analysis, land surveys
and planning.
The Chamber and private
partners would match city funds
and add an investment package
of up to $6 million for land
acquisition.
The idea of a Wilkinson
Boulevard project was men
tioned during discussions about
an uptown arena and entertain
ment complex. The idea was
championed by TransAmerica
See WILKINSON on page 6A
Inside
Editorials 4A-5A
Strictly Business 8A
Lifestyles 10A
Healthy Body/
Healthy Mind 11A
Religion 12A
Sports 1B
A&E 5B
Regional News 10B
Classified 12B
Auto Showcase 14B
To subscribe, call (704) 376-
0496 or FAX (704) 342-2160.
© 1997 The Charlotte Post
Comments? Our e-mail address is:
charpost@clt.mindspring.com
World Wide Web page address:
http://www.thepost.mindspring.com
Eddie Hanna, owner of
Ability Transport, helps the
disabled get around. Story
on page 8A.
UUUU1
Please
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