A Democratic congressional candidate in North Carolina released a powerful new ad on Monday that quickly went viral after it triggered a wave of emotional responses on Twitter.
Charles Graham – who is of Lumbee Native American descent – currently represents North Carolina’s 47th district in the state’s House of Representatives and is running to unseat incumbent Republican United States Representative Dan Bishop to become the first Native American elected to Congress from North Carolina’s 9th district.
The 160-second spot recalls the 1958 Battle of Hayes Pond when a community banded together to face down the Ku Klux Klan and won. No blood was shed, however, the standoff caught the attention of the national media and inspired long-overdue coverage of white supremacist activities in the Tar Heel State.
The ad’s core message is that when neighbors stick by each other, good things happen.
When I was just a boy, the KKK announced a night rally in my home county. A cross burning with hundreds of Klansman to terrorize the Blacks and Lumbee. We were a poor farming community – Black, white, Indian. My parents were sharecroppers like many. The police chief warned the Grand Dragon, ‘these people don’t want your trouble.’ The Klansman called us ‘mongrels,’ ‘half breeds,’ and told him the Klan would show him how to handle people like us.
That night they rolled in with their cars, their crosses, and a single light bulb hooked to a car battery. Fifty Klansmen – not a bad turnout on a cold night – problem is, they were greeted by 400 Lumbees. Simeone Oxendine had been a tail gunner in a B-29 during the war. Verdia Locklear was four months pregnant. Neil Lowery was the local barber. Hundreds of normal folks deciding to stand together against ignorance and hate.
Lowery shot out the light. The Klansmen scattered. By the time the sheriff arrived to fish them out of the swamp, the press was running with the story. The Battle of Hayes Pond – where one town beat the Klan – piece of forgotten history worth remembering, especially today
In Washington, lies turn to violence. And the biggest lie is that America is at war with itself; that you can’t trust your neighbor, that they want something that’s yours, that you must live in fear of them. But the people who stood up at Hayes Pond refused to be afraid. I grew up with their story and the lesson is, human dignity is a human right.
When I started teaching special needs kids in the 80’s, they had no almost no rights in our schools, so I spent 30 years fighting the system to recognize their humanity. And as a legislator, I don’t play politics. I study, I listen, and I vote my conscience.
I’m Charles Graham and I’m running for Congress because sometimes we’re called upon to put things right, like Hayes Pond in 1958 and America today, where access to health care is still out of reach to many families. Where the Sandhills face the highest unemployment rates in the country, and our veterans return from war seeking opportunities and finding none.
These folks didn’t set out to make history, they just answered a neighbor’s call. It happened here before, and now, it’s our turn.
Watch below via Adam Parkhomenko:
This is one hell of an ad from a Democrat running for Congress. The question is whether people will watch it and share it. pic.twitter.com/QYTpSv8OMb
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) October 5, 2021
Here are some samples of the reactions:
A beautiful story. https://t.co/MtqkouI1tESee Also
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) October 5, 2021
Who is he running against? Anyone know. This is an extremely powerful ad. Better than all the GOP candidates blowing things up with guns
— Cindy L Arnevik (@cabbageridge) October 5, 2021
We need more of this neighborly compassion in Washington. Awesome 👏
— WokeGrammy (@TinaBoggs7) October 5, 2021
According to Crooks and Liars, Graham’s Twitter following exploded overnight from 71 to nearly 32,000. As of Tuesday afternoon, he had 48,000.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.