I love North Carolina. I am a North Carolinian by choice, not by birth. I chose North Carolina because of its Quaker values of faith, tolerance, and freedom. North Carolina and the people of North Carolina have been very, very good to me and my family.
We have achieved amazing business success and made lifelong friendships and raised a wonderful family. All while enjoying the great weather, spectacular beaches, majestic mountains, world class universities, the South’s best pulled pork, and the nation’s best college basketball teams.
We chose North Carolina because of its welcoming culture and people. 20 years ago we packed up and did, what our friends in Connecticut referred to as, “a reverse Beverly Hillbillies”. But the joke was on them. We have not only enjoyed 20 years of much better weather, but unimaginable business success with first Red Hat Inc, and now Lulu.com.
Now my adopted state has chosen to turn its back on its tradition of welcoming immigrants, and of tolerance and freedom to all its citizens, with a proposed amendment to the NC State Constitution no less, that hangs a great banner across the entrances to the state saying to a whole bunch of American citizens: You are not welcome here.
This Amendment One, and for more information just google “NC Amendment One”, is against the spirit of what makes North Carolina great. It is against everything North Carolina stands for. North Carolina stands for freedom for all its citizens, young and old, black and white, handicapped and able bodied, gay and straight, married and unmarried.
Let me confess my ulterior motive to blogging on this topic: I build technology companies. That’s my profession. Building a successful technology company requires recruiting the best and the brightest young people our great nation graduates from its best schools. Amendment One is the single worst thing the North Carolina legislature could have done to alienate this generation of bright talented young Americans from wanting to invest their careers and raise their families in North Carolina, and here’s why:
This generation of Americans is just plain better than my generation. They are more tolerant, more freedom loving, more intelligent and more creative than us old geezers. Trust me, I know this. I get to work with them every day. They have more energy and enthusiasm than any prior generation of Americans. They care more about making the world a better place than any previous generation of Americans ever have. All we (all of us born before 1970) have to do to make the world and America a better place is to avoid stopping them.
This proposed amendment to our state constitution is specifically telling them we don’t want their friends and fellow Americans to come here. We need these talented, intelligent young Americans to come to North Carolina to help our technology industries succeed, but they have choices. They can go to states with mottos like “Live Free or Die” instead of states that attempt to tell them how to live their lives, such as this Amendment One does. And trust me, these bright young Americans can and will chose to join my competitors in Seattle, or San Jose, or New York.
If you love North Carolina too, on May 8th please join me and run, don’t walk to your polling place to vote for the North Carolina you want. Let your friends, family and neighbors know this is not some unimportant primary election. Let’s tell the world North Carolina is still the welcoming and tolerant and freedom loving place that drew me and my family here 20 years ago. Vote NO to Amendment One.
Your fellow Tar Heel, Bob Young.
Bob Young, born 1954, Hamilton Ontario Canada. Founder of several tech companies, the most famous of which is North Carolina’s Red Hat Inc. Currently founder/CEO of Raleigh NC-based Lulu.com. North Carolinian by residency and choice.
Read NC Amendment One in full here