The citizens of Rocky Mount, NC can’t call for a vote of no-confidence in the case of Councilman, Andre Knight. What is needed is a qualified candidate to win the November election. A candidate with vision, a heart for those he or she is called to serve. Like the three Bears story: a bear not too old, not too young, but just right. A person where life experience has brought a modicum of wisdom. A candidate who respects the past but knows that it is TODAY that matters.
I see Mr. Knight as an articulate man who often belongs on the cover of Gentleman’s Quarterly. That is when he is not all snarly and mad, which he usually is. Think about how much energy it takes to stay mad? It must be exhausting.
I’ve always said Mr. Knight and fellow Councilman, Mr. Blackwell, can charm the bees out of the trees. When I spoke with Knight one time on Main Street in front of one of my favorite buildings that he owns, he was respectful. There was no attempt to bully. He did tell me I needed to check with him before writing about Ward #1. He said I didn’t know the whole story, which is certainly true. It turns out Mr. Knight is a valuable historian in Rocky Mount. He told me about the past occupants of the building. He knows the stories, the people, the businesses in the black community, which should not be forgotten. When I asked him if he writes, he said no. Nonetheless, I hope he will one day put to paper more what he knows about the black community.
When I shake my head over Mr. Knight, I think of the line from the movie, Rocky, “I could have been a contender!” Instead, I feel he has limited his life preferring to stay on a Plantation. Like Rev. Jesse Jackson in Chicago, he promotes victimhood. When criticized or questioned, he cries racism. On Rocky Mount’s City Council he makes the rules ‘for thee not me.’ A Ward #1 resident said he shows up at black funerals but she has never seen him on her street. Has he done something right? Of course! Do people love him and count on him? I’m sure they do.
Still, his service to the community and Ward #1 has changed over the years. Good intentions have turned into, “What’s in it for me?” You begin to learn how to rig the system, you deal under the table, just once, well, maybe just one more time. What happens? The residents you are elected to help, and should have concerns for over their housing, their schools, the moral compass they are being given becomes complicated. Gangs, drugs, neighborhoods at risk are a lot to say grace over. These are circumstances difficult to improve even when keeping your eye on the ball. When decision-making is filtered through “What’s in it for me?” things start to go to hell in a hand basket, as the saying goes. If you drive through Councilman Knight’ s Ward 1, and add up the number of years he has represented the constituents, there is more than enough evidence to say that what is broken should have been fixed by now.
Rocky Mount’s corruption story is repeated in many a book and film. A character in a novel becomes powerful and maintains this power by corruption. He threatens people telling them, “You better get on board with me.” The character becomes rude and arrogant. He loses his way from where he started out with all good intentions. One particular character promotes division and racism, telling his people how they are being underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. You know the line from the hymn? Preverse and foolish oft I’ve strayed. Perverse it is when a Councilman has served his constituents for 20 years this November, but insists white people are responsible for their plight.
It costs Rocky Mount dearly while malfeasance and rigging the system continues. Don’t forget this fact: You can’t apply for grants and be rewarded if the statistics don’t show need. I say it again, poverty makes money. The satellite of people revolving around Mr. Knight are used to the wink, nod and money. They don’t want a change for sure. It’s an old story that needs editing. Come November let’s add a new chapter where the powerful and corrupt character is carrying off a box as he vacates his office.
On January 24 2023 I took these photos
These two shotguns houses need to be restored. They are now on my list because they are wonderful. Someone is trying to keep them in shape. On the corner (505 Pennsylvania)
Mr. Knight, Councilman Ward 1
Two houses on Holly Street not looking bad. They need a family and bright shiny windows again.
Mr. Knight, Councilman Ward 1
This burned out house on Highland Street is not on the recent approved demolish list. Why not? This is what a councilman should champion. Blight like this discourages neighbors and reinforces that nobody seems to care, so why should they?
Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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2 thoughts on “Rocky Mount, NC: Thinking About Councilman Andre Knight”
The absurdity of those who act like sheep to the shepherd, blindly following the leader figure, without considering their own actions.
This is the case of Rocky Mount’s City Council and much of its administration. In effect those of you who do not vote for change and continue supporting the same shady shepherds are responsible for what is happening in your city, neighborhood and on your street. Why have the voters of Rocky Mount allowed their elections to become an issue of race rather than abilities. The leadership qualities and the minds of great leaders are not based on color; rather intelligence.
Ask yourself do you really enjoy your neighborhood? Do you enjoy the crime in Rocky Mount? Do you enjoy the tantrums of the council? Do you enjoy the decline of your city? Do you feel safe on your street and in your home? Are you tired of decent people selling their homes and leaving Rocky Mount because of the rampant corruption in city government? Are you tired of the revolving door of city management? Are you not tired, embarrassed and ashamed of what you the voters have allowed to happen in Rocky Mount? Are you too lazy and disinterested to vote responsibly or even vote at all?
If you are not like the scarecrow from Wizard of OZ and have a brain go vote for a person who will lead and weed out the corruption.
I attended NC Wesleyan College in 1964-65. While I never graduated from college I had the opportunity to live in and fall in love with the people and city of Rocky Mt. That concern and care continues in me today. For many years I have watched this city run backwards in time. Gone are the businesses and too many of the people I learned to appreciate. Tom Wolfe once wrote “You can’t go home again”. While a true statement, we can return to the values and ideas that once made us great.
I now live in another state and have found a new home and new businesses and friends but would love to return to Rocky Mt and find, once again the people and things I loved so many decades ago. Friends, both Black and White and Native American who want to see good change come but not at the expense of forgetting and ignoring our past. Please use your head and not just your heart in deciding who will lead Rocky Mt forward for all.