More than a thousand people came to Union Baptist Church on Tuesday to celebrate the life of Julius “Juice” Randolph Sampson Jr., a 32-year-old married father of three and a local barber who was shot to death outside a restaurant at Hanes Mall last week.
The pain from his death was still raw. The visitation, which started at noon, lasted for a little more than an hour as friends and family stopped by his open casket.
Nearly all wore white clothing at the request of Sampson’s family. Some wore shirts emblazoned with Sampson’s image, the same image that has appeared throughout social media since his death on Aug. 6 — Sampson dressed in a white and black tuxedo, wings behind his back.
During a service that lasted over two hours, Keyia Sampson, Sampson’s widow, said God made her husband specifically for her.
“When he left on Tuesday morning, he knew I loved him and I knew he loved me,” she said.
She described him as a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.
“I didn’t change him,” she said. “I stepped into the cocoon with him.”
Sampson died Aug. 6 in a fatal shooting outside BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse that many of his friends believe was racially motivated. Sampson was black and the alleged shooter, 22-year-old Robert Anthony Granato, is white.
Winston-Salem police Chief Catrina Thompson said investigators have not uncovered any evidence so far that the shooting was racially motivated, though she said both men used a racial epithet during the altercation. She has declined to say what the racial epithet was and who said it first. A source close to the investigation said that Granato used it first and that the altercation started when Sampson defended a female bartender at BJ’s.
Granato is charged with felony murder and carrying a concealed weapon while or after consuming alcohol. He is being held in the Forsyth County Jail with no bond allowed.
In the eyes of the people gathered at Union Baptist Church on Tuesday, Sampson lived and died as a hero.
Reverberating over and over again like a refrain were certain characteristics friends and loved ones said Sampson exemplified — a dedicated father, a devoted husband, a man of faith, a community servant, a mentor to young black men.
“He was a standup guy,” Keyia Sampson said. “He made a choice to stand up for right.”
Her husband, she said, stood up for her, for his family and for a stranger, a reference to the female bartender at BJ’s.
According to his obituary, Sampson graduated from North Forsyth High School in 2005. He attended N.C. Central University and later obtained several trade degrees and certifications.
But he found his passion when he enrolled in Winston-Salem Barber School in April 2016. He graduated 11 months later in March 2017 and began working at Supreme Legacy Barbershop at Hanes Mall.
Jermaine Foster, the owner of Supreme Legacy, said Sampson impressed him from the first time they met.
And they soon became close friends.
“He didn’t change,” Foster said. “He became so much better…He was aiming for what he was trying to be.”
Angelo Terry, one of Sampson’s friends, said Julius Sampson proved on a daily basis just how false the narrative about black men is.
And even though black men face barriers, Sampson proved by the example of how he led his life that you could break through those barriers, Terry said.
Then he spoke directly to Sampson.
“I’ve been with your wife every single day since you went to the other side,” he said. “You were fully loved.”
The week before his death, Sampson, his wife, and his father-in-law, Bishop Robert O. Ingram, who delivered the eulogy, went on a cruise in Charleston, S.C.
Keyia Sampson said she persuaded her husband to enter a “hairy chest” contest. Julius Sampson entered and competed with gusto.
“He went up there and pulled out moves I had never seen before in my life,” she said, as many in the congregation laughed.
He won the contest, and on their way back home, Ingram said Julius Sampson took a nap.
When Sampson woke up, Ingram said he asked his son-in-law how he could sleep so peacefully.
Ingram said Sampson’s reply was simple: If he died in his sleep, he knew he would wake up in heaven.(tncms-asset)1b5d223a-be18-11e9-8f4f-00163ec2aa770 —(/tncms-asset)
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ Board of Education on Tuesday approved designs that include a new gym, administrative offices and classrooms at Wiley Middle School.
The vote follows a well-attended public drop-in session last month at the school to give the community a chance to see the designs and ask questions.
The 21,000-square foot addition to Wiley with two levels, which was approved by voters in a 2016 bond request, will attach to the existing school building.
It has a project budget of $9.3 million. Construction is expected to start about August 2020, and students, teachers and staff should be able to occupy the addition in spring 2022.
One existing classroom will be eliminated, but Wiley will have a net gain of six classrooms. Three areas within the school will be renovated and turned into three classrooms.
The project, which is going on a tight site, will provide the school with a new entrance. People will basically be able to cross Northwest Boulevard and walk into the front door of the school at the new office/administrative area.
During last month’s public drop-in session, the Wiley addition drawings referenced the drawings developed by Home Field Advantage for a stadium it wants built at nearby Reynolds High School.
Colon Moore, the director of construction planning and operations for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, said back then that the addition was designed so that it would not interfere with the design of the stadium.
Now that the Wiley project is moving forward, will this help the stadium project?
Home Field Advantage has raised more than $1 million to build a stadium at Reynolds High. The current memorandum of understanding between the school system and Home Field Advantage notes that the group would privately pay for the whole stadium.
Proponents of the stadium have said that students and families often cannot attend games or have to find transportation, among other things, because Reynolds does not have an onsite stadium.
There is also a coalition of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County citizens that say they are in favor of Wiley getting a gym, but they are opposed to the stadium.
The Reynolds stadium was not on the agenda, but several people brought the project up, even if not by name, as they commented on the Wiley addition.
Julie Magness spoke of how a large portion of the nearby Hanes Park is in the 100-year floodplain.
“We already know that all of the ball parks down there, the walking trails, the baseball trails, the tennis courts have been under water,” Magness said. “The potential impact for building a stadium in this area might end up being very detrimental to what we already have down there at the Wiley school.”
She said that the gym addition is being pushed up close to the street to “potentially accommodate the stadium down the road.”
Anna Goodman said that the board is considering a design for the Wiley addition that has been drawn to make space for a project that does not have all the funds needed and might not be built.
“Before we make compromises in the design of Wiley gym, we do need to examine that other project and find out if it’s even viable,” Goodman said.
She added that the addition is much closer than necessary to Northwest Boulevard.
“It will eliminate the school’s side yard and seriously limit safe pedestrian routes for students at drop-off and pick-up times,” Goodman said.
In an interview, Moore said Tuesday that the Wiley addition will be constructed because the school needs a new gym.
“We are recognizing there’s a stadium in the discussion, so our layout allows for a stadium to still be constructed,” Moore said.
The stalemate continued Tuesday over Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the Republican state budget compromise.
House GOP leadership opted not to hold a vote on overriding Cooper’s veto or Medicaid expansion legislation House Bill 655. The next opportunity will be at 3 p.m. today, Day 48 of the stalemate.
It is the 22nd consecutive session that House GOP leadership did not address either bill even though they have been placed at the top of each agenda.
House speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, has said there would be no action on HB655 until the budget becomes law.
Republicans need at least seven Democratic House members and at least one Democratic senator to vote for a veto override. That means most House Democrats have to be present for any potential session vote.
As the two sides remain entrenched, analysts say it could take weeks, if not months, for a compromise to be reached.
Moore was reported by The Daily Reflector of Greenville as saying on Aug. 1 that he is willing to wait until October to secure Democratic votes for the override.
At an estimated daily operational cost of $42,000 to run the legislature, there has been at least $924,000 of taxpayer funds spent since the first House session vote on the bills could have been taken July 8.
On Monday and Tuesday, the House floor session lasted less than 25 minutes each, and just one bill was addressed each time.
Only one House committee — Health — took up a bill Tuesday. There are no House committees set to meet today.
The longest traditional legislative sessions this decade involved former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican super-majorities. In each case, McCrory did not veto the budget bill.
However, the 2012-13 budget was not signed into law until July 26, the 2013-14 budget on Aug. 7, the 2014-15 budget on Sept. 18 and the 2015-16 budget on July 14.
The legislature approved legislation after the 2015 session that allowed for continual funding for about 90% of the state budget if a budget was not approved by July 1.
Cooper has cited the lack of Medicaid expansion as a primary reason for his veto, along with not enough funds in the GOP budget compromise dedicated to public education spending — including larger public-school teacher raises than offered by the GOP —infrastructure and environment issues.
Moore spokesman Joseph Kyzer said Monday “the speaker will hold the veto override when the votes are secured, and we are steadfastly committed to passing the $24 billion state budget separately from any consideration of Medicaid expansion.”
Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, and House Minority leader, and Cooper have called out GOP legislative leadership for their lack of response to Cooper’s budget compromise submitted July 9 that provides funds for most special projects being used by GOP leadership to entice House Democrats to vote for a veto override.
There’s also $218 million in necessary start-up funding for the state Medicaid transformation initiative set to begin Nov. 1 in the Triad.
House Democrats have said that by GOP House leadership stalling on taking a veto-override vote and not beginning earnest budget negotiations with Medicaid expansion included, they are the ones responsible for the delay in pay raises.
Senate GOP leadership has indicated HB655 is a non-starter in their chamber even though they have offered to hold a special session on health care once the budget becomes law.
On Aug. 7, Jackson sent a letter to GOP legislative leadership containing 51 of 55 Democratic signatures confirming their collective support for maintaining Cooper’s June 28 veto of the GOP budget.
Jackson’s letter tries to confirm what Jackson and Cooper have been saying since the veto was issued — that “the votes are not there to override.”
Both Berger and Moore have said there would be a clean slate if they choose to hold budget negotiations with Cooper and Democratic legislative leaders.
Rep. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford, has been among the legislators being courted by GOP House leadership to override the veto. Brockman is one of three House Democrats who voted for the budget compromise June 26. That vote was 66-51.
Brockman said he is being open-minded on the budget dispute, as well as attempting to secure more than $3 million in funding in the GOP budget for 17 special projects in the High Point area. He has been the target of advocacy groups using billboards to pressure him to uphold the veto.
“It’s clear the one sticking point is Medicaid expansion,” Brockman said. “It appears Republican leadership is willing to discuss every other item in the budget, including moving to positions similar to the governor’s budget proposal.
“It makes all kinds of sense to expand Medicaid, but you have a Senate Republican leadership adamantly against it.”
Brockman said that “there is a need for both sides to feel enough pressure to make a deal.”
“We’re not doing right by the people of North Carolina by not reaching a compromise on the budget even though compromise, for some people, is a dirty word.”
The Winston-Salem City Council will vote Monday on whether to change the name of the Dixie Classic Fair, but not on what the possible new name would be.
The city council’s general government committee voted unanimously Tuesday evening to schedule the vote, in an effort to put the contentious issue to rest without the lengthy, expensive process of hiring of a consultant.
“This is a decision the council should make,” said North Ward Council Member D.D. Adams, who chairs the general government committee. “It is not difficult. It is either yes or no. We have kicked this can long enough. The people look for us to make a decision. I want us to decide publicly whether to change the name or not.”
There was no suggestion Tuesday of allowing any more public comment on an issue that has drawn thousands of responses over social media, emails and telephone calls.
Public input could be allowed later, however, since a decision to change the name would be followed by another motion directing city staffers to come up with a procedure for picking the new name.
South Ward Council Member John Larson said the fair name can be changed without wading into the controversies that have swirled around the origin and meaning of the word Dixie.
“The removal of the name will not change the Southern lexicon,” South Ward Council Member John Larson said, adding that there will still be “Dixie Chicks, Dixie cups ... and Dixieland music.” Larson said the city council should not “demonize the word Dixie.”
A push to change the name of the fair started April 9, when a group of residents came to the general government committee to say that the word Dixie was offensive because it has connotations of the Old South and slavery.
That kicked off months of controversy and heated exchanges both online and in a public forum the city held to get feedback. The result of all the input was a massive majority in favor of keeping the name. The surveys were not scientific polls but allowed residents and non-residents to voice their views.
Adams, who has called for changing the name of the fair, said she well remembers having to go to what was called the “colored fair,” during the segregation era when whites and blacks attended separate fairs.
“I don’t know what it is about us not wanting to move on and change,” Adams said. “I don’t think Dixie defines who Winston-Salem is, or the people of Winston-Salem, or the history. I don’t mind saying it publicly: I will support changing the name.”
The fair was called the Fair of Winston-Salem when the name was changed to the Dixie Classic Fair in 1956. Adams pointed out that since the 1956 name change was done without input from the public or the council, the city can change the name again at its own discretion.
One question that wasn’t decided by the committee on Tuesday was when a new name, if approved Monday night, would actually go into effect. Originally, the thought was to change the name in 2020, since it was considered too close to the 2019 fair to arrange marketing and advertising.
When the idea of a consultant was brought up, the thinking was that the new name would go into effect in 2021. Tuesday’s committee action made no mention of a date.
At one point in the discussion, Southwest Ward Council Member Dan Besse tried to get the committee to formally support a name change and send that recommendation to the full council, leaving the choice of a new name for later consideration. Besse got no second to that motion.
West Ward Council Member Robert Clark suggested that city staffers poll the council informally about their name preferences, then come back with a recommendation based on that.
“We are making it harder than it needs to be,” Clark said. He objected to spending money on the decision.
Clark said people come to the fair because of the rides and the food, not because of what the fair is called. Rain is the biggest factor affecting attendance, he said.
Northwest Ward Council Member Jeff MacIntosh, a native of New Jersey, pointed out that the city has never actually voted to change the name of the fair, despite widespread public perception that it had.
“Not having been born here, I have no particular attachment to the name Dixie,” MacIntosh said. “I am name-agnostic.”
He said most of the feedback he has received has been to not change the name, but “if the full council votes to do it, I am happy to go along.”
Committee members agreed the process for looking at the name has been flawed. Tossing the decision to appointed citizen panels such as the Fair Planning Committee and Public Assembly Facilities Commission only puts people “on a hot seat that they didn’t volunteer for,” as Besse put it.
The discussion on the general government committee started with a proposed resolution authorizing a search for a “fair name” consultant who would do a full-blown branding study, including focus groups and market studies, and estimated to cost about $60,000.
The resolution went nowhere as council members panned the idea of hiring a consultant.
East Ward Council Member Annette Scippio said the city has higher-priority concerns than the name of the fair. She pointed to several efforts underway to figure out better ways to promote the city’s brand.
“I have felt that the fair renaming should not be the issue we focus on,” Scippio said. “I am more concerned about how residents see the city ... and how the city is marketed.”
She said the fair name may need changing because it doesn’t fit with the other branding efforts.
But Scippio also pointed to the fair’s history of segregation, saying that history is full of “things that were offensive that we have tolerated for many, many years.”
She said she opposed drawing out a decision.
“I don’t want it to stay in committee because it means we are avoiding a decision,” Scippio said, responding to calls from some council members to delay action. “Take it to the council and see who wants to change it and who does not.”