40th Festival for the Eno

One of the events I look forward to the most in Durham each year is the Festival for the Eno. This year was the 40th year that the event was hosted by the Eno River

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Association. If you missed yesterday, then you have a chance to attend again tomorrow. Each year thousands of people turn out on the 4th of July for this special event, which brings together performers, vendors, but, most importantly, those who are interested in saving our environment and who understand the importance of the Eno River in our community. Virtually every segment of our community is represented among those attending this event. This year I was provided the honor of reading a section of our country’s constitution as a part of the festivities. When thinking about our Constitution, it’s important to remember that our country is a country of immigrants. However, today, there are still immigrants yearning to be a part of America who, unfortunately, are detained at our borders. We should remember how far so many people travel to come to our shores yearning for an opportunity and/or a better life. We may have come over on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now, and we should remember those who simply seek to improve their lives by coming to America. We should also not forget to get out and exercise our constitutionally protected right to vote on Election Day for those who will best serve us. Life is so fragile, and yesterday I was reminded when a sudden bolt of lightning struck a tree less than a hundred feet from where I was standing before a sudden downpour of rain. As we live our lives, let’s not take for granted a single day and do all that we can to make this world a better place for all of us.

Juneteenth Celebration

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Phyllis Coley and Spectacular Magazine for hosting another successful Juneteenth Celebration. This year’s event was sponsored by Go Durham, Duke Energy, as well as Americans for Prosperity. As always, the turnout was terrific, and vendors were offering virtually anything that one could hope for, particularly on a warm, sunny afternoon. I was asked to speak on the Second Chance Act which is a bill which I have sponsored with Senators Danny Britt and Warren Daniel which will provide more significant opportunities for people to obtain expunctions of charges brought against them which are dismissed or where they are found not guilty. This bill has passed the Senate, and soon it will be voted on by the NC House. The bill will also provide much-needed relief for those who have paid their debt to society either by serving time in jail and/or paying restitution to give them a second chance to obtain jobs, housing, and even student loans.
If you’d like more information about the Second Chance Act, then please feel free to contact my Senate Office.

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National Gun Violence Awareness Day

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Chief Cerelyn Davis of the Durham City Police Department and Durham’s Sheriff, Clarence Birkhead, for organizing and hosting a news conference which brought together the chiefs of law enforcement agencies across our state to support National Gun Violence Awareness Day. This day is being set aside all across America to heighten the public awareness for the need for us to jointly do all that we can to support initiatives, policies, and campaigns which limit access to firearms to those who do not need them and would abuse them to hurt themselves or others, and promote gun safety. Durham is exceptionally unique because there is a heightened level of awareness relating to the need for sensible policies that will limit access to firearms. Ms. Jessica Hulick from Moms Demand Action was also recognized for her advocacy and support of sensible firearms legislation.

During my remarks, I discussed legislation which I had introduced in the Senate that would allow for a court to enter a temporary order to remove firearms from a person’s home if a member of the family or law enforcement filed a complaint stating that a person intended to use firearms to hurt themselves or others. These are known as Extreme Risk Protective Orders or Red Flag Laws, and they have been adopted in many states. If the court were to determine that there was no threat, then the guns would be returned to their owner. If the court determined that there was a threat, then the weapons could be removed for one year. These orders aid in reducing suicide as well as firearms being used against others. I also discussed a bill that I filed that would allow local communities to adopt ordinances that would allow law enforcement agencies in their jurisdictions to dispose of lost and stolen guns instead of having to resale them to the community. In Durham, over 800 weapons falling into this category came into the possession of our police department last year. Let me thank all of those who participated in today’s press conference, but, more importantly, I encourage each and every one of you to be proactive in advocating for reasonable firearms regulations.

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Durham Education Awards

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Rooks Family Foundation for hosting and awarding the Durham Education Awards this past weekend. This event was attended by approximately 300 people at NC Central University, and it brought together award recipients from Durham’s elementary and middle schools. Each principal provided an award to a deserving student as well as a worthy teacher from their schools. Awards were also offered for the best school bus driver and the best custodian in Durham Public Schools. Several honorees received awards known as the McKissick Awards which were named in honor of my family and our contributions to desegregating public schools here in Durham.
I was provided an opportunity to share with the audience the contributions which my mother, father, and sisters made in desegregating our public schools, and I even shared my experiences in desegregating our elementary and junior high schools.
I would like to thank the Rooks Family Foundation for hosting this fantastic event and for naming several of the awards in honor of my family.

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3rd Annual Scholarship Gala for the Christ Saves Hearts Foundation

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the 3rd Annual Scholarship Gala for the Christ Saves Hearts Foundation.
This event seems to grow each year in its enthusiasm, excitement, and participation. In addition to giving scholarships to students who have overcome heart-related medical problems, this organization is also a great advocate for assisting student-athletes who experience sudden cardiac arrest.
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly. Seconds later, a person can become unresponsive and may find it impossible to breathe or is only gasping. It is possible for medical testing to identify people who are prone to sudden cardiac arrest. It is the number one killer amongst student-athletes. One student dies every 3 days to sudden cardiac arrest, and approximately 16 people under the age of 18 are affected by sudden cardiac arrest each day, and more than two-thirds of them are student-athletes who participate in basketball or football. I was recently successful in getting an amendment passed to a bill that will establish a Sudden Cardiac Arrest Task Force here in NC, which will help us address the needs of our student-athletes.
I’d like to thank Ms. Koren Underdue Bowman for her leadership in establishing this foundation and for advocating for those who experience sudden cardiac arrest.

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2019 Teachers Rally for Education at the NC General Assembly

Today, it was great to see teachers and their supporters from across North Carolina here at the North Carolina General Assembly to focus attention upon critical issues of concern including the following:

– Provide enough school librarians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and other health professionals to meet national professional-to-student standards;

– Provide $15 minimum wage for all school personnel, 5% raise for all ESPs (non-certified staff), teachers, administrators, and a 5% cost of living adjustment for retirees;

– Expand Medicaid to improve the health of our students and families;

– Reinstate state retiree health benefits eliminated by the General Assembly in 2017;

– Restore advanced degree compensation stripped by the General Assembly in 2013.

The turnout for this year was truly impressive and I hope that the enthusiasm, excitement, and momentum which I saw today will make a difference as we adopt this year’s budget and address issues related to education. More importantly, I hope that this momentum can be sustained to elect good people from across our state that will stand up forcefully, assertively, and passionately for our students. This year, my son, Floyd B. McKissick III, who is an attorney in my law office, joined me in greeting teachers from across the state and standing up for the issues they believe in.

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Moms Demand Action Visits the NC General Assembly

I’d like to thank Moms Demand Action for visiting the NC General Assembly in support of sensible gun regulations and reform. I had the privilege of speaking to this group and I deeply admire and respect the work and advocacy of this organization as well as the time that each member took to visit members of the General Assembly to advocate for reasonable firearm policies. Each year the membership of this organization has grown and I hope that they will hold Democrats, Republicans, and Independents accountable if they do not understand and appreciate the need for meaningful reform.

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Youth Voice Festival

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Youth Voice Festival hosted by the Durham Youth Commission at WG Pearson Center in celebration of Durham’s 150th Anniversary. I was extremely impressed by the students who attended this event and by the excellent questions which they asked me relating to politics and the actions which they needed to take to implement policies of concerns. Most of these students were juniors or seniors in high schools, and they were among the very best students in our community. They also represented a number of organizations active in our community such as Students Demand Action. I am certain that these intelligent and enthusiastic young people will be a part of the leadership in the decades ahead. A few of them I’ve actually seen in a number of other events simply in the last year alone. I’m so impressed by their energy and enthusiasm. I wish them the best as they approach their college years.

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Pinwheels for Prevention

Today, I joined in a program sponsored by Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) to increase public awareness of the need for us to prevent child abuse here in NC. The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. You may see these beautiful blue and silver pinwheels blowing in the wind in communities across our state to raise attention to this critical issue. “Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) is the only statewide organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Through investment in innovative programs proven to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs, PCANC helps North Carolina’s communities decrease factors that put children at risk for abuse and increase factors that encourage children to thrive.” According to PCANC’s website.
“Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on the health and well-being of children. These experiences range from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to parental divorce or the incarceration of a parent or guardian. A child is more at risk for ACEs when their parents experience stressors like economic hardship, social isolation, lack of health care, or inability to obtain basic necessities. In NC, 32% of our children have parents who lack secure employment; 38% live in single-parent homes; and, 6% are without health insurance. The lifelong consequences are often devastating to individual children and families – and they are also a drain on our businesses and taxpayers. Higher health care costs, incarceration rates, lost work time, and shortages of emotionally and mentally prepared workers are all directly correlated to ACEs. This does not have to happen. The answer is simple: To build a healthy future for North Carolina, we must invest in prevention and focus on strengthening our families and communities.” PCANC works hard to build great childhoods through evidence-based program support, advocacy for public policies that foster safe, stable, nurturing environments, and public awareness about the ways all of us can prevent abuse and neglect from ever happening.

I’d like to thank all of those from PCANC for their advocacy. Today, Wendy Jacobs, the Chairperson of the Durham County Board of Commissioners was also present when this year’s program was launched in Durham at the American Tobacco Complex.

For more information on PCANC, check out their website: https://preventchildabusenc.org

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A Visit to the Wright School

I recently visited the Wright School in Durham which is a residential facility with approximately 25 beds which is designed to assist children ages 6 to 12 with serious emotional and behavioral disorders. I’ve always been impressed by the dedication of the staff and faculty of the Wright School, however, the most impressive part of my visits to this school is the opportunity to speak with children who have attended this program as well as their parents who uniquely understand and appreciate all that the Wright School has done to assist their children. When I visited the school recently, it was great to see the renovations which had recently been made to benefit those who are a part of this unique program that our state funds and offers to those in our community.

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