Tarboro NC – EAST TARBORO PUBLIC FORUM by Richard Parker Jr. Columnist

Community Self-Help.

Our Community Forum on May 28th 2009 at the Oakland House in East Tarboro was wonderful and in my opinion, very successful. Thank you Mr. Greg Higgs and Councilman Melvin R. Muhammad. My special thanks to our guest speakers. There was one invited guest in particular, who deserves special attention and consideration. But first, a parallel.

President Johnson signed into law an Executive order, I believe in 1964, ordering all corporations to begin hiring African-Americans. It benefited me directly because shortly thereafter I was hired as the first Black male of a one hundred year old corporation in Philadelphia. Lo and behold, shortly after that, the maintenance supervisor was promoted to Building Manager. An executive meeting was held to name a new maintenance supervisor. Jack Salzstein, the building manager to-be advised ,”we have a man but he is colored”. Mr. R. Bruce Jones said, “Well then,I`ll go see Mr. Batton.” And off he went. Mr. Harry Batton, Chairman and CEO, after hearing Mr. Jones, said, “ Mr. Richard Parker, the man I talked to on the phone that Saturday morning?” (THAT`S another story) “Give him my blessings”. Now here is the clincher.

About six months into my new job, Jack called everyone into a conference room, first thing on a Friday morning. He sat us ALL down then began to chew everyone out about a case of fluorescent tubes being left on the receiving dock overnight. He said “if it happens again, heads will roll”. Then he just turned and walked out. We were stunned. Suddenly everyone looked at me as if for an explanation. I didn`t have one. EXCEPT; in my mind I KNEW intimidation when I saw it. Plus Jack was trying to hang on to his old job because he didn`t know his new one! I said to my men and one woman, “Jack did not confide in me. I could have avoided this. He is trying to pull my teeth”. “ there is only one thing to do. Everyone call in sick on Monday. I too, will call in sick. Then, everyone come to work on Tuesday. I will handle it from there.” They did just that.

Three days later, Al Evans the Director, Jack and myself, met in the same conference room and Jack, as ordered, made a “public apology” to me. Why ? That`s another story. But I was maintenance supervisor for the next 10 years. Period.


A young man sitting behind me in the forum said the police, in effect were not providing enough protection for East Tarboro citizens. Councilman Muhammad asked Town Manager Sam Noble to respond to this young man`s concern. First Ol` Sam said something like, Give me your name and come see me. I`ll take care of it. The young man, “Are you a policeman?” THAT did the trick. Ol` Sam went into his act. He turned real red, then stood up and hitched up his pants. ARROGANCE: Something like this, “I work for the mayor. I work for the mayor and the eight town councilmen. Everybody else works for me,” as he stared down the motionless row of people making up his entourage. INTIMIDATION!

Sam has forgotten that HE also works for Black people and White people AND Hispanic people, all known as the Citizens of Tarboro North Carolina. We pay his salary, which he has not earned in 20 years plus. He has destroyed the lives of the people of over 28 families under the guise of saving the town some money.

Parks and Recreation needs a whole new organization from top to bottom. Mr. Pettaway says he has new programs and all he needs now is volunteers and children to come. I remember Pettaway and Mitchell saying in the last “Neighborhood Watch” meeting held at Ray Center that the two of them cruised East Tarboro for 12 years trying to get children to come to Ray Center, but couldn`t get anyone. They said they used their own cars too. And they still need volunteers and children to come? They should be fired. Not as long as Ol` Sam is around, however. I think he should go too. OH yes, I volunteered over 3 years ago and was never called. Instead, I was barred from Ray Center by Lee Perry and Jarvis Pettaway. I had reported a leaky roof to the Daily Southerner. RETALIATION!

November elections are near the horizon. Remember 2007? That was a VERY good year. I urge our young people to step forward once more and COMPLETE THE CHANGE. We need a new mayor and town manager. We need a makeover at Parks and Rec. We need women on the town council as well as more young men. Then we can have true Open Government, as or able Editor at the Daily Southerner has so often spoken of.

Richard H. Parker Jr.

Tarboro NC 27886-5117


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