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  • Nov 04 2014

    Local Candidate Spotlight: JESSICA HOLMES

    AARON THOMAS | Staff Writer

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    “I care about education so much, I’ve dedicated my career to it”

    If you ask Jessica Holmes about education, it’s something she doesn’t take for granted.


    In fact, for her it’s a lifestyle.


    “I care about education so much, I’ve dedicated my career to it,” Holmes said.

    This year, the North Carolina native will be running for Wake County Commissioner in District 3. Education in the Tar Heel State is a top priority for her.

    “Education is the number one polling issue,” Holmes said, “no matter what party or race you’re running.”

    For the past six months, Holmes has had a demanding schedule. From 8 a.m.

    to about 11 p.m. each day, she attends political events, does campaign work, and spends alot of time in the community.

    Most political candidates appeal to the public by saying what people want to hear, such as providing better education options. While Holmes agrees that each candidate is qualified to serve in his or her position, she says she is truly the best candidate.

    “My opponent is a nice guy,” she said, “the only difference is compassion. I don’t only talk about working, I do it.”

    Holmes attributes her upbringing in a small, to have her and her grandmother raised her with only a 5th grade education.

    Despite her circumstances, she had a strong support system.

    “[My grandma] was very adamant about me having a different lifestyle,” Holmes said. “Even if I didn’t have homework, she was always putting me to work.”

    As a child, Holmes didn’t understand why her grandmother made her read the Bible or a newspaper aloud.As an adult, she’s learned to appreciate it.

    “She loved me just that much to push me,” Holmes said, “not just for her, but to change my entire circumstance.”

    Holmes would later attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for her undergraduate and law degrees. Getting through school wasn’t easy since she had to work three jobs.

    She worked at Express and as a volunteer for the Helping Hand Mission, Inc. Her work-study job for Julius L. Chambers was the most significant job she held.

    It helped her understand the law, specifically education and voting rights.

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    Chambers, a civil rights activist and attorney known for creating one of the first integrated law firms in the country, became Holmes’ mentor and one of her personal heroes.

    Today, Holmes works as an attorney for the North Carolina Association of Educators. Her job involves advocating for teachers and school employees in the state.

    “Excellent teachers are disappearing,” Holmes said. “If you get rid of these teachers, where would I be?”

    When she’s not doing political work, Holmes enjoys talking to her grandmother, keeping up with college basketball, and watching Scandal. An important fact Holmes wants voters to know is that even though she is running for District 3, the commissioner seat is at-large, meaning a candidate can still win the race even if they lose their district.

    Holmes will be running against Republican candidate Rich Gianni in the Nov. 4th election.

    For more information about her platform, visit her

    website at

  • Nov 02 2014

    Local Candidate Spotlight: Judge Craig Croom


    “That’s why I do it, I want to be an inspiration to others.”


    What Judge Craig Croom has is passion. His love for the bench and the people who approach it is undeniable.


    The administrative law judge’s first time on the bench was in July of 1999. He said it was a day that was special and would lead to many more that would be fulfilling, so much so that he is now running for Wake County District 10 Court Judge. It’s a position he’s held before after being appointed by Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. Croom left with almost 12 years on the bench in 2011.

    From March 2011 to December 2012 Croom served as a Special Superior
    Court Judge. Today, Croom is an Administrative Law Judge with the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings.

    Having the power to influence youth is what Croom said he enjoys.
    Equality and justice for everyone is what drew him to the bench.

    Wake County’s justice system would first know Croom as a county deputy sheriff, and later a prosecutor. While performing those roles Croom said he learned about fairness.

    “What a judge does is know the law, and apply the law, Croom said. “By following the law everyone receives a fair chance. You don’t take into account all theses other factors, you just do what the law requires you to do.”

    During most of Croom’s college career at UNC-Chapel Hill the biology major and part-time EMT paramedic did not have, law school or law in general on his radar–at first.
    Croom first wanted to go into medicine. Science would be barrier to Croom pursuing a career in medicine but a catalyst for him becoming a Judge.

    “When I got to organic chemistry I said no this is not for me,” said Croom. “But in my political science and history classes I got A’s and A-‘s…I loved it but my original thought
    was that I would go for sheriff, I wasn’t even thinking about law school,” Croom said.

    It wasn’t until Croom met a legal adviser to the
    sheriff ’s department, an officer turned attorney, that he thought about pursuing law school.
    Croom would follow in his footsteps.
    “I said I might want to do that,” Croom said. Croom wanted to be a mentor to young men, especially other Black males.
    “Because when they see someone who looks like them, they say ‘oh he’s a judge, I can become a judge.’”
    Croom often runs into people who have been in his courtroom.

    “You don’t remember me, do you?” Is what one man
    said when he approached him at a church service.
    “I get that a lot,” said Croom.

    The judge first met the man years ago when the man was just 12 years old at an event he was speaking at.

    The man remembered Croom because at the event the young boy was suppose to introduce Croom, but was full of nerves. Like the people-person Croom is he was able to calm the boy down and encourage him to speak in public. During their conversation the boy shared with him that he too, wanted a career in law.

    Today, 15 years later the boy is now a practicing attorney in Raleigh. Croom said the man shared with him that his words and he as a person inspired him to choose law as a career.

    “That’s why I do it, I want to be an inspiration to others,” said Croom. “We do a variety of things in district court, but my passion is juvenile court. It’s all about saving kids so that they can maximize their potential.”

    Easily we all can take a different path, said Croom. He says in life you can choose the famous track or the infamous track. Croom sees potential in almost everyone he encounters and encourages youth to seek paths that won’t land them in his, or any other judge’s court room.

    Judge Croom’s Nov. 4 opponent is incumbent Charles Gilliam Wake County District Court Judge.
    For more information about Judge Croom, visit

  • Oct 29 2014

    First black undergrad alum visits






    The African American Cultural Center, AACC hosted its annual Living Legends Series which honored Irwin Holmes Jr., the first African-American undergraduate student to graduate from N.C. State on Thursday.

    The presenation which gave insight into Holmes’

    thoughts and experiences, was moderated by Vice Provost

    for Student Diversity Dr. Tracey Ray, Nubian Message Edi-
    tor-in-Chief Chris Hart-Williams, and Managing Nia Doaks.

    Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, Holmes was

    exposed to tennis at an early age and even referenced the

    opportunities that Durham provided for African Americans to

    play tennis locally. When he came to N.C. State, Holmes was

    also was the first to integrate the Atlantic Coast Conferenceas

    varsity tennis athelte. Holmes graduated third in his high

    school class from Hillside High School.

    Upon graduation, he decided that he wanted to pursue en-
    gineering and applied to various universities including North

    Carolina State University and Howard University. Holmes

    ultimately chose N.C. State, becoming one of the four African

    American males admitted into the school in 1956.

    Until N.C. State, Holmes acknowledged that he had no

    experience talking to white peers. However, throughout his

    four years of college he gained experience and understanding

    of those who did not appear to look like him.

    Holmes spoke in great detail of encounters, both good and

    bad, with peers who were not of the same race. For instance,

    he spoke of the laws enforced by the state of SC, which forbade

    white athletes to play another team that was integrated with an

    African-American player. This is just one instance of adversity

    that Holmes faced throughout his undergraduate career.

    During an intramural sports tournament, he and his

    roommate, who was also African-American, were not allowed

    to play due to a decision of a captain from another hall. When

    Holmes informed his captain about it, the captain took a stand

    and made it so Watauga could have it’s own team under it’s

    own leadership. Doing that alone increased the participation

    of Holmes’ residence hall and ultimately they reached a second

    place position in one of the tournaments.

    Academically, Holmes brought diversity to the classroom

    and in doing so challenged the norm. One of his professor’s

    refused to teach a class that had an African-American student

    in it.

    Through Holmes’ descriptions of these situations, students

    were able to see how privileged they are to be able to learn and

    have the opportunity to study at a predominantly white insti-
    tution that has become more accepting and acknowledging

    of the African American community. Not only that, students

    and faculty present were very appreciative of the foundation

    that he laid down for present and future African American

    students to follow.

    In addition, Holmes didn’t stop his education at the

    undergraduate level — he also continued to get his masters in

    electrical engineering from Drexel University. The AACC had

    the privilege to host such a captivating moment in N.C. State’s

    history by bringing Irwin Holmes Jr. to tell his story and share

    his time with the student body.

    His closing words of advice to the students were: “When

    you are gone, don’t forget NC State. Pay it forward as much as

    you can. It’s not all about spending the rewards of your educa-
    tion on you. Share it with others.”

    What are you doing right now in your education? Will

    you be able to share it with others once you leave NC State?

    Will you be a living legend?

  • Oct 24 2014

    N.C. State’s first Black undergrad degree recipient to visit Tuesday

    Event: Living Legends: Irwin Holmes, Jr. First African American Undergraduate Alumni at NC State

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

    Washington Sankofa Room 126Witherspoon Student Center 

    See: Event program

    The N.C. State African American Cultural Center’s annual Living Legends presentation will feature, Irwin Holmes, the first African-American to receive an undergraduate degree from the university.

    The cultural center lifts up and reflects on the journey of Irwin Holmes, Jr. through its theme for the year, “Brown v. Board of Education: 60 Years Later – Educational Empowerment: Replicating the Systematic Practices that Work.”

    The Nubian Message’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Hart-Williams, Managing Editor Nia Doaks and Vice Provost for Student Diversity Dr. Tracey Ray will moderate the presentation. 


    “He went on to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Drexel University. After graduation from NC State, Holmes worked for several companies before taking a position with IBM, where he worked for 19 years until his retirement. As a senior manager of computer development at IBM, he earned two patents and was a key member of the task force that led to the development of the IBM PC product line. Holmes has also been an entrepreneur and he developed a shopping center in Durham, NC, started a gourmet restaurant, and developed other real estate ventures. As one of a handful of African-American students who took those first bold steps to desegregate universities in the South, Holmes helped open the doors to generations of students to come and ensure that they had access to higher education. Holmes was a scholar and had high academic achievement. He was inducted into the electrical engineering honor society, Eta Kappa Nu, in his junior year. He was also an athlete and ran track, played intramural basketball and varsity tennis. Holmes was the first athlete to integrate the Atlantic Coast Conference and in his senior year he was made co-captain of the tennis team,” African American Cultural Center website.