The State of Things

M-F 12 Noon, M-Th 8p, Sat 6a

Host Frank Stasio.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

We bring the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you. We are a live show, and we want to hear from listeners. Call 1-877-962-9862, email sot@wunc.org, or tweet @state_of_things. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Or join our live audience for remote broadcasts from Greensboro's Triad Stage and Raleigh's Museum of Natural Sciences. And you can listen to Political Junkie Ken Rudin Fridays on the program.

Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.

Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks to the audience during a stop on her book tour for "Becoming," in Washington on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018.
Jose Luis Magana / AP Photo

The demand to #FreeCyntoiaBrown is growing. Celebrities and activists are joining forces to amplify the request for clemency for the 30-year-old sex trafficking victim. Brown is a Tennessee woman serving a life sentence for killing a man who hired her for sex. Outgoing Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he is considering the clemency request and will make a decision before he leaves office in January.

Thankyou for being a friend: from law school to the judge's bench, these women have held tight to their friendship.
Courtesy of Elyse Ribbons / WUNC

The summer of 1998 was bright for Teresa Raquel Robinson Freeman, Shamieka Rhinehart, Camille Banks-Prince, and Keisha Wright Hill. They had each enrolled in law school at North Carolina Central University, and little did they know their paths were about to intersect in a way that would make them life-long friends. Affectionately calling themselves “The Golden Girls” after the popular 90s sitcom, these four women of color would endure break-ups, break downs and even death on a path that no one anticipated. That was 20 years ago. Today each is a judge. 

In this Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 file photo, Vice President Mike Pence, center, listens as President Donald Trump argues with House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington.
Evan Vucci / AP Photo

Will there be a government shutdown? President Donald Trump held a televised meeting this week with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to talk about immigration. Trump promised to shut down the government if Democrats do not agree to his demand of $5 billion to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Coach Morgan Wootten, with the highest winning percentage of any coach in the history of the sport, doing what he does best.
Courtesy of Bill Hayes

Morgan Wootten is one of the most successful coaches in high school basketball history. Those from the Washington metro area may remember him for the legendary success of his DeMatha Catholic High School basketball team. During his close to 50 year tenure, DeMatha won more than 1,200 games and never lost more than two in a row. One of the most historic moments of his career was the team’s unexpected win up against a powerhouse team led by a player we now know as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

Greensboro's Chuck Mountain brings blues rock on the road this spring.
Courtesy Chuck Mountain

Chuck Mountain has not been on the Greensboro music scene long – the band just came to fruition in July – but they have already been on tour and laid down a number of original tracks. The band’s guitarist Beau James says their trip to Nashville, which included camping on the North Carolina state line, expedited the team bonding and lit a creative spark for the band. 

Protesters crowd around the entrance of the UNC Center for Leadership Development where the Board of Governors will meet this morning to discuss the fate of a controversial Confederate monument known as Silent Sam.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Updated 3:20 p.m.

The board overseeing North Carolina's public universities has rejected the UNC Trustees' plan for a center to house a Confederate statue known as Silent Sam on the Chapel Hill campus.

Clay Enos / Warner Bros Pictures

Films that draw viewers into the gritty highs and lows of the music world are having a big cinematic moment. There is the new head-banging Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” yet another reincarnation of “A Star is Born,” featuring pop icon Lady Gaga, and the forthcoming “Rocketman” that takes on the rise of Elton John.

Photo of climate activists stop in front of the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference venue during the March for Climate in a protest against global warming in Katowice, Poland, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018.
Alik Keplicz / AP Photo

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland is not going well for the Trump administration. Officials’ speeches have been met with laughter, hecklers, and people walking out of the room. Some protestors are calling the administration's push for clean coal “climate suicide.” The annual meeting, known informally as Cop24, is geared toward ending global warming, and this year attendees are focused on how to implement the Paris Agreement. 

Intelligently Ratchet: A Look Back At 2018

Dec 12, 2018
Photo of Intelligently Ratchet
Courtesy of Intelligently Ratchet

After noticing that most of the black voices featured in the news come from the educated and affluent, Kevin “Kaze” Thomas and Karim “Bishop Omega” Jarrett made it their mission to represent the perspectives of everyday black people. They do this through their weekly web series “Intelligently Ratchet,” which streams live on Facebook every Wednesday at 9 p.m. 

'Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features' by Adrian Piper
Cropped image courtesy of Adrian Piper / Wikimedia Commons - https://bit.ly/2rCcjXn

Feminist artists in the 1960s and ‘70s were tired of the dominant artistic representations of their bodies: idealized curves symbolizing fertility or pictures of dolled-up women used in marketing campaigns. They wanted to make work that was brash and unapologetic — art that pushed boldy against the societal roles that women were traditionally assigned. Their new creations allowed them to start a conversation with one another outside of a male-dominated system. 

A boarded up apartment entrance as a makeshift memorial
David Ford / WFDD

A deadly apartment fire in Greensboro earlier this year highlighted some deep-seated community issues. The kitchen fire in the Summit-Cone apartment complex in May killed five young children, all siblings who were refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Uma Avva remembers attending elementary school in Fayetteville and being asked: Are you black or white? She was neither. Avva’s family moved from India to the South in the 1960s, at a time when there were only three boxes to check on standardized forms: white, black, or other.

The cover for 'Amidst This Fading Light.'
Courtesy of Rebecca Davis

How does a community move on after unspeakable tragedy? Author Rebecca Davis explores this question in her debut novel “Amidst This Fading Light” (SFK Press/2018). The historical fiction book is loosely based on a 1929 murder in Davis’ small hometown of Germanton, North Carolina.

Courtesy of Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi was born with nystagmus, a visual condition where the eyes are constantly in spasm. It took Calvocoressi a while to learn how to walk and balance, so the young child spent a lot of time sitting on the floor, daydreaming and observing the world. 

File photo of NC GOP Chair Dallas Woodhouse, who said he wants the state election board to fully lay out the facts in its investigation of the 9th Congressional District race.
Adhiti Bandlamudi / WUNC

State and federal officials from both parties are calling for a full investigation into election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. With only 905 votes deciding the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready, and reports of absentee ballot irregularities, the state elections board voted to have an evidentiary hearing later this month. 

Beloved North Carolinian musical legend Nina Simone graces the cover of Oxford American's Southern Music Issue.
Amanda Magnus

The latest issue of the Oxford American magazine is all about North Carolina’s musical past and present, from Doc Watson to Rapsody. The issue features essays on musicians from the Tar Heel State from writers across the South. It also features a companion CD full of samples of the state’s iconic music. 

A jazzy twist on a classic, Marcus Anderson blends music, coffee and entrepreneurship with his brand.
Courtesy of Marcus Anderson

Marcus Anderson is a fusion jazz artist whose performances include not only playing the saxophone, but also singing and choreography. But Anderson is more than an artist — he is also an entrepreneur. In 2015 he started a coffee line called AND Coffee. And he is in the process of organizing a jazz festival in Asheville for August, 2019 called “Jazz AND Coffee Escape.” 

photo of the Cherokee County Detention Center
Frank Taylor/Carolina Public Press

A former Cherokee County Detention Center officer has been indicted on assault charges after allegedly kicking an inmate in the face. This is one of a growing number of complaints against authorities at that detention center.

photo of Mayor Nancy Vaughn at table talking to people.
Jordan Green/Triad City Beat

The death of Marcus Deon Smith was declared a homicide by the state medical examiner’s office. Within hours of this news, a Guilford County superior court judge authorized the release of the camera footage from the incident, which shows Smith wandering in the street and behaving erratically and Greensboro police placing him in a controversial restraint many compare to “hog-tying.”

Silent Sam on UNC-Chapel Hill's campus is a controversial Confederate symbol.
Don McCullough / Flickr Creative Commons

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Board of Trustees issued their recommendation Monday for the future of the confederate Silent Sam monument. The board wants to see the statue housed in a $5.3M history center on south campus. The news prompted protest among the students and faculty on campus who do not want the statue re-erected on any part of the campus.

A photo for the film 'Al: My Brother.'
Courtesy of Cash Michaels

Al McSurely is a white man who has been fighting white supremacy for almost 60 years. McSurely’s activism began in the early 1960s with groups like the Congress of Racial Equity and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He worked alongside civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael, and eventually became an attorney who fought on behalf of victims of racial discrimination.

Jay Price / WUNC

The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are digging up hundreds of soldiers from the Korean War as part of a massive identification project. The disinterment operation is taking place at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu and is based on recent advances in DNA and forensic technology. 650 Korean War dead will be exhumed. 

NC Sheriffs, Sheriffs, Law Enforcement
Paula Dance for Pitt County Sheriff

When Paula Dance started her campaign for sheriff of Pitt County, she knew her win would make history. Dance would become the county’s first African-American sheriff and the first African-American female sheriff in the state. What she could not predict, however, was the wave of black sheriffs that would join her. The November midterms ushered in black sheriffs in Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Pitt and Wake counties. Five of these countries have never had an African-American sheriff.  

Photo of women's history trail in Western NC, cutting through red tape and blazing new trails.
Courtesy of Karen Lawrence

A new women’s history trail in Franklin, North Carolina highlights the overlooked stories of entrepreneurial women in the western part of the state. The trail celebrates both individual women and women’s organizations, like the Main Street Milliners: a group of hat-makers and business owners who worked in Franklin in the 19th and early 20th centuries — a time when women rarely owned businesses. 

A picture of sisters Emily and Brenda Merlin
Alex Granados / Education NC

More than 4,700 North Carolina students were eligible for migrant education services last year. These are the children of migrant workers who move from state to state as their parents follow seasonal crops. This frequent relocation means these students are often changing schools and even moving from one state to another. 

One of the founding principles of the U.S. government is the separation of church and state. Yet there are many unseen ways in which the religion of America’s founders was baked into the legal system. Immigration attorney George Pappas traces the impact of religious doctrine on land rights in his new book “The Literary and Legal Genealogy of Native American Dispossession: The Marshall Trilogy Cases” (Routledge/2017). 

Photo of J.D. Cortese
Courtesy of J.D. Cortese

From the mid-1970s to early 1980s, tens of thousands of Argentines who were believed to be political dissidents were kidnapped, tortured and killed by military and security forces. Those who were never seen again are called los desaparecidos. 

Photo of Phaedra Boinodiris
Courtesy of Phaedra Boinodiris

Phaedra Boinodiris grew up in a family of technologists. As a kid, she and her sister tore down and rebuilt computers for fun and even designed their own games. But as they got older, they discovered the gaming world was not an inviting space for women, so they founded womengamers.com to fill that void. It grew quickly to become a well-known platform for women to review and discuss computer games.

A photo take on December 2, 2018 shows barricades surrounding the pedestal where the Silent Sam statue once stood.
Alex Kolyer / For WUNC

Updated 1:10 p.m.

Officials with the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees have approved a plan to recommend a new on-campus history center to house Silent Sam, the Confederate monument that was toppled by protesters earlier this year.

Donald Trump
Greg Richter / Flickr Creative Commons

It has been a bad week for President Donald Trump. Two of his close associates were caught lying as the special counsel’s investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia heats up. Prosecutors for the special counsel say Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied repeatedly to federal investigators and breached his plea agreement. 

Pages