The Good: The Greensboro Four

Sixty years ago Saturday, on February 1, 1960, four North Carolina A&T freshmen—David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell A. Blair Jr., and Joseph McNeil—walked into a Woolworth’s on Elm Street in downtown Greensboro, purchased toothpaste and other products from the desegregated retail counter, then sat down at the lunch counter and asked for coffee. As they expected, they were refused. “We don’t serve Negroes here,” a waitress told them. But they didn’t move, not until the store closed. They went back to A&T, recruited 20 more black students, and returned the next day. They made the news. The third day, 60 people joined. The fourth, more than 300. Soon the movement spread across the South. By July, that Woolworth’s store desegregated, then most others followed. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act banned segregation in public accommodations.

The Bad: UNC Board of Governors

It’s hard to think of how the UNC System could have handled the Silent Sam debacle any worse. Not only did the system give the Sons of Confederate Veterans $2.5 million to build a shrine to the felled monument, but now we learn that the other part of that settlement, the $74,999 the System gave the group, wasn’t to keep it from waving Confederate flags on UNC campuses. That was a lie. As The Daily Tar Heel reported last week, the System actually gave the SCV the money to purchase the rights to the statue from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which had given it to UNC in 1913. That way, the SCV would have legal standing to sue UNC. Follow us here: UNC gave the SCV money so that the SCV could sue UNC so that UNC could give the SCV money. Hooray, fiscal responsibility! Oh, and about that very precise dollar amount: If it had gone to $75,000, the BOG would have needed Attorney General Josh Stein’s approval.

The Awful: Senator Richard Burr

We’ve dunked on Thom Tillis for being a spineless dope throughout the impeachment process. But with the final vote coming Wednesday and Donald Trump’s acquittal all but guaranteed, it’s time we paid Richard Burr some attention. He, after all, is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He’s been a senator for 15 years and was a congressman for a decade before that. He’s not running again in 2022, so he’s not beholden to the MAGA crowd. So if anyone was poised to be this generation’s Sam Ervin—the North Carolina senator who chaired the Watergate committee—it’s Richard Burr. Except Burr doesn’t give a shit. Even if there was a quid pro quo (there was), even if the president tried to coerce a foreign government into announcing sham investigations into his rivals (he did), that doesn’t “rise to the level of removal,” Burr declared last week. And then, to underline that he does not give a shit, Burr handed out fidget spinners during the trial. (And, of course, he voted against allowing evidence or testimony, because who needs that?)

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at 

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