‘I am voting because…’


As of 9-22-2020
The following is a note written by Sarah Stevenson’s younger sister Elloree Erwin. Further updates will be shared as they are available.
Monday, Sept. 21, 2020 11:28 a.m.
I was able to have a telephone visit with Saran twice last week. I took her all the accolades that had been bestowed upon her by County Commissioners, the honor by Congresswoman Alma Adams, and the Observer’s article. She was in good spirits and was happy to get the information.
We talked about the Forum. She said she’d made the order in which the Forum would continue. She named the persons who’d agreed to preside over the Forum. She’s also ready to get her ballot so she can VOTE.
I’m so proud of her. We appreciate all the prayers and thoughts sent to her.
Elloree Erwin
Tim Porter sent in an announcement that the City of Charlotte is conducting a public survey for feedback on city tree canopy policies through Oct. 12. Details here. Online survey is here.
Janey Tate wrote in QCityMetro about County Commissioners’ Sept.16 proclamation honoring Forum co-founder Sarah Stevenson. Story here, archived here. Proclamation here.
Ajonelle Poole sent in an update on online open houses on the Silver Line rail project linking Gaston County and Matthews (and possibly Union County) via the Wilkinson and Independence Boulevard corridors. (Upcoming meetings are listed in “Upcoming Events” below). Materials available include the maps of corridor location options being discussed. Public comments are being taken through Oct. 14 on an online page here.
Upcoming Events
Sept. 22-26: Profound Gentlemen’s Back to Class wine set and virtual testing virtual social and fund-raiser. More info, registration links and FAQ here.
Sept. 22: Silver Line light rail project meeting, focus area Independence Boulevard (Charlottetowne Avenue to Idlewild Rd), 5:30 p.m. YouTube link here. Maps here.
Sept. 24: Silver Line light rail project meeting, focus area Independence Blvd (Idlewild Rd to just south of I-485 at CPCC Levine), 5:30 p.m. YouTube link here. Maps here.
Sept. 24: Virtual 2020 Mental Health Summit from Living Waters Inc., 9 a.m-1 p.m. Tickets $20/$30. Limited scholarships available. Details and tickets here. Agenda here. Website page here.
Sept. 24: “Educational Inequities & Race Relations: Mobilizing and Organizing in our Communities,” a free virtual town hall from the North Carolina Alliance of Black School Educators and NABSE Southeast Region, 7-9 p.m. using Google Meet. Register here. Flier here.
Sept. 29; Charlotte Regional Business Alliance Infrastructure Series: Traditional Part 2, 11 a.m. via Zoom, $10.
Sept. 29: Silver Line light rail project meeting, focus area Union County Extension, 5:30 p.m. YouTube link here. Maps here.
Oct. 2-4: Empowerment Summit 2020, virtual, free. Registrations here.
Oct. 13: Charlotte Regional Business Alliance Infrastructure Series: Transitional Part 1, 11 a.m. via Zoom, $10.
Oct. 15: ”Important Life Conversations: Are You Having Them?”, 12:30 p.m., a virtual MeckMIN Food for Thought session with Lorrie Klemons, Klemons Health Care Consulting. Register here.
Oct. 29: Charlotte Regional Business Alliance Infrastructure Series: Transitional Part 2, 11 a.m. via Zoom, $10.
Nov. 12: Charlotte Regional Business Alliance Infrastructure Series: Transformational Part 1, 11 a.m. via Zoom, $10.
Nov. 19: “Caregiving Through Holidays,” 12:30 p.m., a virtual MeckMIN Food for Thought session with Coury O’Donoghue, Alzheimer’s Association. Register here.
Dec. 3: Charlotte Regional Business Alliance Infrastructure Series: Transformational Part 2, 11 a.m. via Zoom, $10.
Dec. 17: “Gender Roles in Scripture,” 12:30 p.m., a virtual MeckMIN Food for Thought session with Dr. Hadia Mubarak, Rev. Glencie Rhedrick, and Rabbi July Schindler. Register here.
Upcoming through…
Through Nov. 3: “Reclaim Our Vote” phone banking into voter suppression states, including North Carolina, 5-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Details.
News & Handouts
Alma Adams 9-16 9-17 9-18
Jaime Harrison (U.S. Senate, South Carolina) 9-14 9-14 9-15 9-15 9-15 9-16 9-16 9-16 9-16 9-16 9-16 9-17 9-17 9-17 9-17 9-17 9-18 9-18 9-18 9-19 9-19 9-19 9-19 9-20 9-20 9-20 9-20 9-20 9-21 9-21 9-21
Cynthia Wallace 9-15 9-16 9-16 9-19 9-20
Goodwill Industries 9-21
Knight Foundation 9-15 9-18
N.C. Dept. of Health & Human Services 9-18
Vote Yes for Bonds 9-18 website here
View the
Announcements Archive

Community Matters


Commentary on the protests following the death in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis.


Richard McElrath, veteran teacher, CMS board member and Forum participant, has died.


April Benson, left, and Patricia Campbell described the upcoming Charlotte Black Film Festival; Paula Riddick collected surveys about hiring a new police chief.


Emiene Wright, left, and Katrina Louis discussed Westside Connect, a startup media project aimed at westside neighborhoods.


Winston Robinson, left, and Tera Long led discussion about westside equity and ambulance charges.


Funeral for Dwayne Collins, who died Sunday after a battle with multiple myeloma, will be Friday, Aug. 30, with viewing at 11 a.m. and service at noon, at Greenville Memorial AME Zion Church, 6116 Monteith Dr.


Brandon Lunsford shared Johnson C. Smith University’s interest in becoming an archive for West End Charlotte historical documents.


Dr. Debra C. Smith recounts the development of a publishing project telling the stories of women who served Charlotte during the civil rights era.


DeAlva Wilson, left, presented at a session on redevelopment plans for the demolished Eastland Mall site.


Jessica Davis, left, and James Mitchell helped guide a Forum discussion of the future of the Historic Excelsior Club on Beatties Ford Road.


The decision to forgive the man who took his brother’s life set John C Barnett on a course of advocacy.


Malcolm Graham, left, led a panel discussing ways to move public opinion toward giving all people more protection from gun violence.


Derek Webber recounted his efforts to keep his company’s Battle of the Bands in Charlotte, only to leave for Houston.


Lucille Puckett, left, and others raised community issues for discussion at Tuesday’s Forum.


Mayor Vi Lyles, left, City Manager Marcus Jones and CMPD Police Chief Kerr Putney answer questions about release of video of police shooting.


Ervin Bryson introduced his Carolina Energy arena football team and invited the public to attend games and get to know the team better.


Debbie Giibbs, left, and Tonya Rivens comment on the early days of local television news broadcasting.


Jan Valder, left, Martha Alexander, Sara Spencer and Mary Klenz described their efforts to move causes forward, and to support one another.


Keysha Walker Taylor outlined the investments being made by the African American Community Foundation in Charlotte’s black community.


Ken Lemon, left, Brittney Johnson and Dedrick Russell explain the work of the Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists.

View the Archives for
Community Matters

Inside the Forum


An update from Elloree Erwin about Forum co-founder Sarah Stevenson.


U.S. Rep. Alma Adams honored Sarah Stevenson in a floor speech in the U.S. House.


In a proclamation signed by Chairman George Dunlap, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners declared ‘Ms. Sarah Mingo Stevenson Day.’


An update from Elloree Erwin about Forum co-founder Sarah Stevenson.


An update on Sarah Stevenson, from her sister Elloree.


Forum meetings canceled through end of March, with review on or about March 31.


Forum meeting for Tuesday is cancelled.


At year’s end for some years, the Forum has set aside all things serious and gathered for breakfast, fellowship and games.


Forum participants mark the 94th birthday of Sarah Stevenson, co-founder of the Forum.


Friends gather to mark Tommie Robinson’s completion of murals for the Second Ward High School Gym site.


A few moments from the 2018 Christmas Party.


Ken Koontz reports on his national holiday, proving that even levity at the Forum may be aimed at a good cause.


Sarah Stevenson announced she might not be present at every Forum, and said her “daughters” would continue on.


An update on Tommie Robinson’s Second Ward murals.


The Forum’s Christmas Party for 2017.


Bring your unwrapped toys to the Forum and Natheley and Ben will deliver your donations to Toys for Tots.


Forum participants suggest topics for future Forums.


On this Tuesday close to the real date, the Forum wished co-founder Sarah Stevenson a happy birthday.


About 130 affordable housing apartments officially opened Wednesday, named for Sarah Stevenson.


Two Forum regulars spotlighted in Observer’s annual “Thank You” feature.

View the Archives for
Inside the Forum

Government & Politics


CATS has provided maps for proposed alternate routes for construction of the Silver Line light rail line from Gaston County to Matthews with a possible extension into Union County.


Taiwo Jaiyeoba described his efforts to reorient multiple streams of planning documents into a single comprehensive plan to guide the future of Charlotte’s growth.


George Grandy and Robert Dawkins focused on how the formal U.S. Census process and grassroots efforts are linking up to encourage participation.


Veteran Democratic strategist Sam Spencer explained his opposition to the ballot referendum on increasing the Mecklenburg sales tax to fund arts, parks and education.


Commissioners Chair George Dunlap makes his case for voter support of a ballot proposal to raise the sales tax.


Zhivi Williams, left, and Dr. Yolanda Holmes reported on efforts to overcome lack of diversity and resources on the Women’s Advisory Board to fulfill a role of advising Mecklenburg County Commissioners.


Vilma Leake was invited to address the Forum.


County Manager reviewed major planks of her proposed budget on which Commissioners will begin taking straw votes next week.


During his Feb. 19 Forum presentation, Sheriff McFadden made a specific suggestion of how congregations could help support people leaving detention.


George Dunlap, left and Garry McFadden discuss Mecklenburg issues.


Jean Leier and Warren Cooksey offered an update on the I-77 express lanes and other toll roads in North Carolina.


Fire Chief Reginald Johnson, left, joined Mayor Vi Lyles and Community Relations Director Willie Ratchford in discussing the city’s response to Hurricane Florence. Forum members made suggestions for additional improvements in emergency response.


Stacey Carless, left, and Adam Sotak reviewed how the results of the 2020 Census will affect the funding for government programs.


CMPD’s Shawn Ward helped Forum participants wrestle with a few of the issues facing police officers as they serve the community.


Kareem Puranda suggests that all police officers go through mental health training, in the name of a better, more sensitized police force.


Lisa Crawford presented the details of how turning your driver’s license into a federally approved REAL ID will save time at airports in 2020.


City staff brought to the Forum by Council member Greg Phipps faced a range of questions about city’s budget.


Trial Court Administrator Charleston Carter.


At-large Charlotte City Council member James Mitchell offered an update on a variet\y of city programs, mostly turning on economic development.


Six women serving as judges on the Mecklenburg bench discuss their roles, their joy in their work, and how they cope with the stresses of that work.

View the Archives for
Government & Politics

Housing & Workplace


Susan Woods offered tips on how to create a federally recognized nonprofit, and then how to seek funding.


Marvin Kelly described Goodwill Industries’ training and other missions and answered questions.


Constance Lav Johnson completed part of a presentation on grantwriting and fundraising.


Michael Norman is using his electrical contractor business to give young people a chance for a steady job.


Karen Kovach, left, and Juanita Miller explained Changed Choices’ work with women returning from jail or prison.


Dr. Tonnia Thomas has a nonprofit ready to train people to work in hazardous waste and environmental cleanup projects.


David Sharp, left, joined Patrick Cannon in a discussion of how Sharp’s firms are funneling capital to entrepreneurs who are building businesses.


Three women shared their approaches to success in nonprofit and for-profit businesses in Charlotte.


LaWana Mayfield and Pam Wideman describe some of the tools available to the city to ensure that more Charlotte residents are in safe housing they can pay for.


City program with area partners is retraining adults with barriers to employment.


“Chatty Hattie” Leeper, trailblazing black woman in Charlotte radio, remembers days at WGIV radio.


Dr. Madeline McClenney-Sadler explains Exodus Foundation’s mentoring work with former inmates.


Sherrell Dorsey closed out Women’s History Month, sharing her story of combining her many different interests and skills to blaze a trail for African-Americans in technology.


Rachelle Latimer describes highway contracting work as a difficult business that can be daunting for newcomers.


Patrick Graham, new CEO of Charlotte Works, and his team outlined work of the local workforce development board.


Leaders from Goodwill and Urban Ministry Center explain their work to help people move toward job success, better health, secure housing.


Fulton Meachem and Ken Szymanski, representing two powerful housing interests, discuss affordable housing opportunities in Charlotte.


Jason (Jet) Jones brought his teacher (Maria Macon), his singing, his videos and his enthusiasm for an entrepreneurial approach to the world.


Bonita Caldwell, president of Beatties Ford Memorial Gardens, shared approaches to business leadership.


Juanita Miller, left, Carolyn Logan and Ken Koontz discussed making their way in organizations once closed to African-Americans.

View the Archives for
Housing & Workplace

Education & Health


COVID-19 updates were from the NC Dept. of Health & Human Services and the Mecklenburg County Manager.


County Manager Dena Diorio’s COVID-19 update.


Monika Rhue makes a plea that people let others in the community know all the good that people are doing during this coronavirus pandemic.


Links to coronavirus resources from area governments and agencies.


A large medical practice shared this information about the caronavirus pandemic with its Meckenburg patients today.


Dr. Tuwanda Williamson, left, will help open the first Oak Street Health clinic catering to adults on Medicare.


A large crowd, including longtime educator Ceretha Sherrill, left, contributed to a discussion of issues still to be dealt with after the resignation of CMS Supt. Clayton Wilcox.


CMS Board Vice Chair Elyse Dashew read a lawyer vetted statement about the suspension of CMS Supt. Clayton Wilcox.


Greg Schermberg sent in a video about his company’s efforts to support family nights at two nearby schools.


Crystal Rountree introduces herself, and a more diverse Teach For America corps now operating in CMS schools.


Details here on free summer meals in some CMS schools and elsewhere.


Janet Harmon and Cory Pharr outlined Smart Start early childhood initiatives, and the new Meck Basics program aimed at growing brains aged 0-3.


Monika Rhue shared plans for a Johnson C. Smith University exhibit on the history of the Beatties Ford Road corridor now undergoing substantial change.


Sonja Chisolm, left, Avice Pretty and Dr. Trasha Black are helping their clients rebuild their lives.


Dr. Diane Bowles from JCSU discusses books published by the university.


Robin Tolliver-Ayotunde offered a primer on basic insurance concepts, and promoted looking at options annually.


Vakala explains a theory of “cultural strategy” that he is developing.


Munro Richardson reviews communitywide efforts to help struggling readers.


Three speakers added their perspectives on how to wrap children in what they need to thrive


Clarence D. Armbrister, recently named president of Johnson C. Smith University, set out his goals for the HBCU.

View the Archives for
Education & Health

Candidates & Ballots


Preliminary results from the March 3, 2020 party primaries for offices in which Mecklenburg votes.


Democrat Cynthia Wallace addressed the Forum on her primary contest for the 9th District Congress seat.


Judge Aretha Blake’s statements on a Feb. 6 media report about cases in her courtroom.


Cal Cunningham, left, and Trevor Fuller offered comments on the five-way Democratic primary contest March 3 for the U.S. Senate seat held by Thom Tillis.


George Dunlap, left, and three other candidates in the March 3 primary discussed county and court issues.


Rev. Brenda Stevenson (pictured), N.C. Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed and N.C. Rep. Becky Carney discussed mostly legislative challenges facing the state.


Seven of the eight Democrats in the March 3 primary for 3 county commissioner slots on the November ballot spoke.


Laura Anthony, left, and Jonathan Peebles are running for legislative seats in the March primary.


A challenge to Darrell Bonapart’s candidacy in the N.C. Senate 39 Democratic primary was upheld by the Mecklenburg Board of Elections


Election-night preliminary results from the Nov. 5 election.


Vi Lyles explained her candidacy for re-election as Charlotte mayor, and spoke of a number of things she’s learned in her first term.


Republican Joshua Richardson, left, and incumbent Democrats Dimple Ajmera, Julie Eiselt, James Mitchell and Braxton Winston addressed the Forum.


Brandon Pierce, left, and other candidates for City Council Districts 2, 4 and 6 presented.


Annette Albright, left and Elyse Dashew presented at the second Forum on CMS Board of Education candidates.


Who will guide the education of these children? First of two sessions with CMS school board candidates. (CMS photo)


Results from Tuesday’s Primary Election in Charlotte.


Five candidates for at-large seats on Charlotte City Council addressed the Forum.


Caleb Theodros, left, and Terry Brown discussed District 3 issues at a Forum focused on the Sept. 10 primary.


Sean Thompson, left, and other candidates in the District 4 City Council primary answered questions.


Mark Vincent, left, and others involved in the City Council primaries in District 5 and 7 made presentations and answered questions.

View the Archives for
Candidates & Ballots