Former U-T reporter pens bio on the incredible life of Black Civil War veteran in new book, ‘The Sergeant’

Shortly after 9/11, a group of Palestinian students had some questions for an American reporter about the lives and history of Muslims in America that sent him on a decadeslong journey, researching and writing about Muslims who had been in the United States since a few years after the Mayflower came ashore, through the American Revolution and the Civil War. Dean Calbreath, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former reporter with The San Diego Union-Tribune, ultimately focused on one man, featured in his new book, “The Sergeant: The Incredible Life of Nicholas Said.”

“Initially, my plan was to do a book about all of these Muslims that I encountered from history. … I actually did a whole anthology of these people that I found, looking for Muslim names,” said Calbreath, who was part of the Pulitzer-winning team that broke the story of former U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham taking more than $2 million in bribes. One of the names Calbreath searched for was Mohammed, coming across Mohammed Ali ben Said, whose name was later changed to Nicholas. “That’s how I stumbled across his name and immediately felt drawn to him because of his wit, his urbane intelligence and sense of character, and also his love of travel, his love of learning languages. These are things that I also have, and I felt very close to him.”

Said (pronounced Sy-eed) was born in the kingdom of Borno, today known as northern Nigeria, to a famed general in about the 1830s. He was the 13th of his mother’s 19 children, his mother being among the four of his father’s wives. As a young teen, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery, which would eventually lead to his traversing Africa, Asia, Europe, and the United States. Here, he would join one of the first

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OnCore Golf joins forces with Epson as tour kicks off

Investing in women’s sports is as important as the number of dimples on a golf ball. 

Just ask the folks at Buffalo-based OnCore Golf, a golf ball maker founded in 2011. 

The company just announced it is involved in a partnership that has the potential to be a game changer for the company. OnCore has been named the official golf ball of the LPGA’s qualifying tour, the Epson Tour. 

Epson’s stop at Pinehaven is scheduled for July 21-23 at the Twin Bridges Championship. The Capital Region is the longest-running stop on the Epson Tour, previously known as Symetra and Futures tours. The Tour itself is entering its 43rd season. 

The 22-tournament schedule will take the Epson Tour to 14 states and offer more than $4.9 million in total prize money, for an average purse size of $223,000, both tour records. 

OnCore CEO Keith Blakely said Epson officials approached his company about establishing the partnership. 

“We are putting our VeroX1 on the practice range because we are confident our ball will give players the tour performance they deserve,” Blakely said in a phone interview. 

In addition to supplying driving range balls, OnCore plans to attend the events to explain the technology behind the ball and its advantages on the tee.

“I’ve been told that we will not believe how much attention these women will pay to the sponsors who do something for the tour because by and large they feel ignored,” Blakely said. 

“My hope is that there will be an observable performance advantage now for these players on the practice range. And getting them engaged in a conversation about the technology will help them learn this isn’t just another marketing ploy.  Hopefully in the end we will be able to expand our community of golfers playing our ball in competition,”

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Folly Beach Vacation –

When you’re living in March and planning for October, it seems you have lots of time – in fact an entire summer – to plan your itinerary. It’s crazy how quickly a summer flies by!

My daughter-in-law, however, was on it! She and my son, Ben, had reserved an Air B&B in Folly Beach, South Carolina, back in March when they invited us to join them.

So in September I began planning our part of the journey. My husband and I decided to leave a few days early and head east into Virginia to see part of the country we’d never seen. We headed out, traveling through Columbus, Ohio, and Charleston, West Virginia, before arriving in our third state capitol —Richmond, Virginia. Richmond is abundant in both Civil War and Revolutionary War history. While there we visited the amazingly preserved home of Maggie Walker. She was an extraordinary African American woman who became a social leader in Richmond at the turn of the 20th century. This particular home is unique in that it has been in the hands of her family since her death in 1934. While most preserved homes that are run by the National Park Service do their utmost to decorate historic homes with period furniture, everything in this home was actually owned by Maggie and her family. She was the first African American to charter a bank in the United States, and the first woman to sit as president of a bank in the U.S.

We also visited a Confederate Civil War hospital site now preserved and operated by the National Park Service. While navigating the streets of Richmond, we drove past St. John’s Church, where Patrick Henry gave his most famous speech (“Give me liberty or give me death!”) to the 2nd

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McMaster and sponsors celebrate law giving state employees up to 6 weeks paid parental leave | Palmetto Politics

COLUMBIA — Gov. Henry McMaster celebrated a new law providing state employees up to six weeks of paid parental leave while its sponsors promised to push for more next year.  

“This is a great step forward,” McMaster said Aug. 25 at the Statehouse, surrounded by advocates who helped get the legislation to his desk.

“Having strong families, of course, is key to our success in the future,” he added. “Mommas and daddies need to be with their babies as much as they can.” 

The event marked a ceremonial signing of a bill he actually set into law in May. 

Effective Oct. 1, it provides six weeks of paid leave to state employees who give birth or become parents by adopting a child under 18. The spouse who doesn’t give birth or — in the case of adoption, the parent who’s not the primary care provider — can take two weeks off with pay. Parents who foster a child in state custody can also take two weeks paid leave. 

Florence 1 becomes first SC school district to offer paid parental leave

Parents can still take up to 12 weeks off, as allowed under a 1993 federal law, but the rest of the time would be unpaid. Currently, employees must use up their accrued vacation and sick days before taking unpaid leave. The new law doesn’t require using those days.

As initially passed overwhelmingly by the S.C. House of Representatives last year, the legislation guaranteed 12 weeks of paid leave to each parent. But the Senate cut the maximum weeks in half and differentiated between mother and father, biological and foster children.

Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Columbia, said the compromise was necessary to get a vote in the Senate, which passed the amended bill unanimously in March. For reluctant senators, he said, it was a matter of money.   

Columbia moving forward with $21.5M Finlay Park revitalization

State fiscal experts estimated the

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South Carolina state employees will soon be entitled to 6 weeks of paid parental leave

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Starting in October, state employees in South Carolina are entitled to six weeks of parental leave after giving birth or adopting children.

Surrounded by Republican and Democratic lawmakers who worked together to pass the bill, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster held a signing ceremony Thursday for the law he put his signature to back in May.

The law provides the six weeks of leave at full salary for the primary parent or caretaker of a baby and two weeks for the other parent for both natural births and adoptions. It also provides two weeks paid leave for foster parents who take in a new child.

“Mamas and daddies need to be with their babies as much as they can,” McMaster said.

State agencies are being told about the leave and the rules this week, said Karen Wingo, state human resources director at the Department of Administration.


The new law has a special place in her heart because Wingo’s children, now 3 and 5, were born while she worked for the state and she said she did “everything from kissed boo boos and wiped runny noses, dried tears, given snacks, attempted to entertain children” while working.

“One time my 2-year-old decided it was a good time to yell into the phone while I was briefing the governor,” Wingo said. “I know how hard it can be to be a working parent.”

A new law in South Carolina will entitle parents to six weeks of paid time off following the birth or adoption of a child. This law will come into effect at the beginning of October.

A new law in South Carolina will entitle parents to six weeks of paid time off following the birth or adoption of a child. This law will come into effect at the beginning of October.

The leave bill is not just good for families, but also

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Joe Biden ends SC summer vacation on Kiawah Island

KIAWAH ISLAND — He came. He prayed. He biked. He played. And now, President Joe Biden’s South Carolina summer vacation is nearly over.

After a few quiet days on Kiawah Island, Biden will leave the serenity of the Lowcountry behind on Aug. 16, making his way back to Washington to sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law, the White House announced.

Air traffic over Charleston will be restricted around lunchtime Aug. 16, starting at 11:15 a.m. and ending at 12:45 p.m., according an advisory from the Federal Aviation Administration.

But first lady Jill Biden will remain in the Palmetto State a while longer.

On the day she was set to return to Washington with her husband on Aug. 16, Jill Biden tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing “mild symptoms,” the White House announced. 

She has been prescribed the antiviral drug Paxlovid and will isolate at the vacation home on Kiawah Island for at least five days, her spokeswoman said in a statement.

Much like his arrival last week, the president’s departure is not expected to disrupt commercial flights at Charleston International Airport in North Charleston, an airport spokesman said. He encouraged passengers to be sure to check their airline for flight information.

When Biden and his family landed in the Charleston area Aug. 10 they touched down at Charleston Air Force Base in Air Force One. The Bidens then boarded the presidential helicopter, which took the family to Charleston Executive Airport on Johns Island.

Biden’s six-day sojourn to the Palmetto State was a low-key trip for the president. He stayed with his family on Kiawah, a gated community known for its private beach and famous golf resort about 26 miles southwest of Charleston.

South Carolina, and especially Charleston, hold both political and personal significance for Biden. South Carolina is

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