NC Demo­crat aims to rally civil rights lead­ers to fin­ish MLK’s plan

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY DAWN BAUMGARTNER VAUGHAN [email protected]­sob­ Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919- 419- 6563, @dawn­bvaughan

Martin Luther King Jr. stayed at the Michaux house in Durham sev­eral times dur­ing the civil rights move­ment in the 1950s and ’60s, and King in­flu­enced H. M. “Mickey” Michaux Jr. to go into pol­i­tics. The Demo­cratic state rep­re­sen­ta­tive is re­tir­ing this year af­ter 19 terms in the North Carolina Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

Michaux hasn’t slowed down much, and said he used his 88th birth­day in Septem­ber to re­flect on his life and ca­reer. He said a lot of peo­ple have asked him what he plans to do next. He wants to work on a mem­oir with his wife, June. He plans to start a foun­da­tion, and he wants other civil rights lead­ers to join him.

“I’m not go­ing to take my hands out [of pol­i­tics] com­pletely. There are sev­eral things I know Martin [Luther King Jr.] would have liked to ac­com­plish — that last rung on the lad­der, I would like to keep push­ing. In 1964, we got the Civil Rights Act, Vot­ing Rights Act in ’65 ... The one leg left is equal­ity,” Michaux said in a phone in­ter­view Tues­day.

The foun­da­tion would be a think tank “where we could bring all minds to­gether to work on that last leg of the stool, equal­ity,” Michaux said. He said he and June Michaux will start work­ing on fundrais­ing and “get­ting folks in­volved on a na­tional level.”

He said he has talked with An­drew Young, John- netta Cole, Ver­non Jor­dan, Jesse Jack­son and Doug Wilder about it.

Young is a for­mer civil rights leader who worked closely with King and is also a for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions and for­mer mayor of At­lanta. Cole is the for­mer di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Mu­seum of African Art and for­mer pres­i­dent of Spel­man Col­lege. Jor­dan is a for­mer ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton. Jack­son is a long­time civil rights leader. Wilder, a for­mer gover­nor of Vir­ginia, was the first elected African-Amer­i­can gover­nor.

“You can leg­is­late cer­tain things, and the other things you can’t leg­is­late,” Michaux said. “You have to have a change of mind, a change of heart, and you can’t leg­is­late that.” He said the think tank would work to “in­flu­ence peo­ple to un­der­stand that we are all equal, a ba­sic equal­ity among us.”

He said he talks to the lead­ers he named about things like that al­ready, and will get back in touch with them when he for­mal­izes his new plan.

File Photo

N.C. Rep. H.M. “Mickey” Michaux, pic­tured here in a News & Ob­server file photo, plans to start a think tank about ra­cial equal­ity when he re­tires.

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