March 2 could be a memorable day for former Wake County school board chairman Ron Margiotta.
In the morning, Margiotta will be in court as a potential witness in the case against the Rev. William Barber of the state NAACP, who was arrested on charges of disrupting school board meetings in 2010. In the evening, Margiotta will receive the Civitas Institute's inaugural Courage in Leadership Award.
"We need to respect politicians who do the right thing in the face of criticism and hostility," said Francis DeLuca, president of Civitas, about the conservative group's award to Margiotta.
The award will be given during Civitas' annual Conservative Leadership Conference in Raleigh.
The award drew criticism Wednesday in an article in Facing South, the online magazine of the liberal Institute for Southern Studies. ISS has been mounting a campaign against conservative businessman Art Pope, who is the major funder for Civitas.
"Pope's groups appear unrepentant about their leadership in the Wake County school battles," says the Facing South article. "In March 2012, the Civitas Institute — which receives more than 95% of their income from Pope's foundation — is hosting a Conservative Leadership Conference, whose speakers include an advocate of states seceeding from the union.
The conference will present a Courage in Leadership Award to Ron Margiotta, the former Wake County school board chairman who led efforts to dismantle the system's diversity policy before being voted out of office in 2011."