I arrived a little early at the June 21, 2016 Cleveland County Board of Commissioner’s Meeting and could have gotten a back seat like most people that were raised in a Baptist Church in Cleveland County. But no, when I go to Commissioner’s Meetings and School Board Meetings I go right up front so I can hear everything that is said and see everything there is to see. Everything there is except the under the table and behind closed door stuff. This night I was at ground zero when the two atomic bombs dropped on the county commissioners. All of them that always brag on DSS and “all the good things that they do.” This is how it went down.
The Rev. Dante Murphy was the first on the list for Citizens Recognition. Citizens Recognition, sometimes called Public Participation, is a few minutes set aside by North Carolina Law for citizens to speak to their elected representatives. The NC Law requires that public bodies provide a minimum of three minutes for a citizen to speak to officials, in this case county commissioners. Cleveland County allows a maximum of three minutes.
Rev. Murphy is Pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church and past President of the Cleveland County NAACP. Rev. Murphy is also an employee of the Cleveland County Department of Social Services. Rev. Murphy dropped a heavy load on the Cleveland County Commissioners who are well known to gloss over problems within county agencies and not listen to the people. They listened to Rev. Murphy. So did I and everybody else in the place. Rev. Murphy was resigning at DSS effective July 5, 2016.
This is what Rev. Murphy had to say to the Cleveland County Commissioners:
“To: Cleveland County Board of Commissioners, Jason Falls
Cleveland County Department of Social Services, Karen Ellis
Cleveland County DSS Board, Betsy Wells
CC: Cleveland County Branch NAACP, Rev. Melvin Clark
District Director of the NAACP, Mary Degree
North Carolina Conference NAACP, Dr. William J. Barber, II
Southern Coalition for Justice, Anita Earls
Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Association, Rev. Charles Webber
God Before Government, Dr. Rit Varriale
Shiloh Baptist Church, Dea. Jerry Mitchell
Date: June 21, 2016
For more than ten years I have been afforded an opportunity to live in what I believe is one of the most progressive counties in the world. It is a county that has educated my children well and given them a foundation that is second to none. I have also benefited greatly academically, socially, and spiritually. For all of this I am eternally grateful and shall always be indebted to the many wonderful citizens of this county who have made me a better person.
Two of the most relishing opportunities that I have been afforded is to proudly serve as Senior Pastor of one of the oldest African American churches in the county while also serving humbly as a social worker for the Cleveland County Department of Social Services. It is the latter which I wish to address in this correspondence.
Effective July 5, 2016, I will no longer be working for the Cleveland County Department of Social Services. You are undoubtedly aware by now the circumstance of events surrounding my employment-none of which are related to my job performance or the work itself for my evaluations and work performance over the years is exemplary. If by chance you are not familiar, I urge you to take the time to examine the public legal documents that exist, including a lawsuit that I have filed in federal court. These are documents that not only tell of my journey, but it also represents the journey of many hard working and honest people across this county whose only desire is to go to work and be treated fairly and with respect.
It is my hope that the Cleveland County Board of County Commissioners, as well as other social justice organizations that I have or will contact, conduct your own investigation into the events that have led me to this point of having to resign from the Cleveland County Department of Social Services. While the courts will ultimately have its say in this matter, it is you, our elected officials, who will ultimately have the power to assure that every employee of this county will never be treated unfairly again. While conducting your investigation, please give careful consideration to the practice of intimidation, bullying, and fear, that often conceals the brutality of what goes on in the workplace behind closed doors. During your own investigation, please consider whether this is an opportune time to act on House Bill 438, which gives county commissioners the power to abolish certain boards and merge departments, thus giving oversight back to those elected by the people as opposed to those who are appointed. During your investigation, I am pleading with you to seize this opportunity to do your part in moving us all closer towards the common goal of freedom and justice for all people.
Please accept this letter as my official resignation as social worker with the Cleveland County Department of Social Services.”
The second speaker under Citizens Recognition was the Rev. Melvin Clark, Pastor of the Washington Baptist Church and is presently the President of the Cleveland County NAACP. Rev. Clark echoed Rev. Murphy, except in a tone more stern and more to the point (as Rev. Murphy had to let his Federal Lawsuit do his talking as three minutes does not allow much time to describe a complex problem) , regarding the Cleveland County Department of Social Services (and other county agencies) being so out of control and for so long. Rev. Clark also challenged the Commissioners to investigate the County DSS and other agencies (Cleveland County Schools among them) for injustice and inequality.