Barry Yeoman

Barry Yeoman is a freelance journalist in Durham, North Carolina. He has covered his state’s political landscape for 30 years. Follow him @Barry_Yeoman

Recent Articles

Law and Disorder in North Carolina

Since Republicans gained control of the North Carolina legislature in 2011, judges have emerged as some of their staunchest adversaries. Now lawmakers want to curb state court powers.

Chris Seward/The News & Observer via AP
This fall, in a dispute over gerrymandering, federal judges stripped North Carolina lawmakers of the power to draw their own state district lines. The decision was just the latest setback for the state’s Republican legislative leaders: Federal courts have overturned restrictions on abortion and same-sex marriage , and in 2016, halted a voting-law overhaul that, judges said, targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision .” State judges, who are elected, have also restrained legislators: Last year, North Carolina’s Supreme Court overturned a law canceling tenure for veteran schoolteachers. Now state lawmakers are striking back with an all-guns-blazing strategy that could serve as a national template for neutralizing the courts. Republicans haven’t hidden their displeasure with what they call judicial activism. Last February, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore lashed out at three state judges who sided with Democratic Governor...

Toppled! Ridding Durham of Its Racist Monument

The liberal city wanted it down; the GOP state legislature forbade that; activists found a way to end that impasse.

(Virginia Bridges/The Herald-Sun via AP)
Jillian Johnson was out of town Monday night, as a group of young activists were yanking the Confederate soldier statue off its granite pedestal in downtown Durham, North Carolina. She learned the news from a text message, which included a photo of the toppled monument. The metal figure had crumpled upon impact. It lay shoulder-down on the old courthouse lawn, collared by a yellow nylon strap. Johnson, who is African American and sits on Durham City Council, had occasionally walked along Main Street, craned her neck at the statue dedicated to "the boys who wore the gray," and felt upset by its presence on public land. Like many Confederate monuments , it was not an immediate reaction to the Civil War. Rather, it was dedicated in 1924 , during a time of night rides and lynchings—the year before tens of thousands of Klansmen descended on Washington, D.C., for a silent but fearsome show of power. The Durham monument was built “not to venerate the war dead,” Johnson says...

North Carolina on the Brink: Repeal of Anti-Transgender Bill Falls Flat

In North Carolina, which has become ground zero in the fight over LGBTQ rights, a special legislative session to repeal the state’s House Bill 2 devolved into name-calling and hostile stalemate.

Brian Gomsak/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign
During the longest night of the year—after what had felt like the longest day—North Carolina Governor-elect Roy Cooper walked into a Raleigh news conference and made no effort to hide his anger. The Democrat had helped broker a deal for the repeal of House Bill 2 , the anti-LGBTQ, anti-labor legislation that had cost the state jobs, championship games, and convention business. Leaders of both political parties had signed off on the agreement. So had advocates for business, athletic, and LGBTQ interests. The Charlotte City Council, whose protections for transgender residents had originally sparked HB2, had agreed to rescind the anti-bias ordinance it had passed last February. Outgoing Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, had called the legislature into a December 21 special session. It seemed like the productive, if imperfect, breaking of a logjam. Then, after nine hours of wrangling, mostly behind closed doors, the legislature had adjourned its session without debating,...

Will GOP Power Seizure in North Carolina Become National Model?

A bid by North Carolina’s GOP-controlled legislature to strip power from the state’s incoming Democratic governor has prompted another round of progressive protests and civil disobedience.

(Photo: Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)
When community educator Manju Rajendran and her eight-month-old daughter arrived at the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh on December 15, the House visitors’ gallery had just been cleared of spectators and the chamber was doing its work behind closed doors. Seventeen people had been arrested, most of them for interrupting a hastily called special session designed by Republicans to seize power from Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper and the new Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court. A reporter covering the session for the progressive NC Policy Watch news site had been arrested, too, for trying to cover the protests. Rajendran walked into a tense scene. Some demonstrators were holding signs against the glass walls of the gallery, which overlooks the House floor from above. Others had their ears pressed to their phones, trying to listen to the House’s audio feed, which was breaking up and delayed. Activists talked among themselves about their...

Counter Protests Swamp KKK Celebration in North Carolina

A Ku Klux Klan gathering this weekend both recalled North Carolina’s racially troubled history, and demonstrated the strength and diversity of the state’s civil rights movement today.

Barry Yeoman
In the end, Saturday’s “Victory Klavalkade”—a celebration of Donald Trump’s presidency by the North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan—turned out to be a fleeting sideshow. Outnumbered by protesters and journalists, the Klansmen abandoned their plans to parade through Pelham, a rural community along the state’s northern border where the white supremacist group has its headquarters. Instead, they ended up exulting from the safety of their cars in the old cotton-mill town of Roxboro, 37 miles away. A motorcade of about 30 vehicles barreled through the streets, sporting Confederate flags, as their drivers shouted “white power” to no one in particular. “It is about the size of a funeral procession,” tweeted Burlington Times-News reporter Natalie Janicello. Missing from the parade was a local Klan leader who had been arrested for allegedly stabbing a fellow member the night before. But Saturday was still...