The State of Things

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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.

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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. 

Photo of Protester with NC Stop Torture Now
Courtesy of NC Stop Torture Now / CC

A new in-depth report confirms that a North Carolina-based company “played an absolutely central role in the CIA’s torture program.” After an 18-month investigation, the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture identified 49 people who were taken on so-called “torture flights” by North Carolina-based aviation company Aero Contractors, Ltd., a private aviation company operating out of Johnston County. 

Shambling their way through the Triangle and into your heart this December.
Courtesy of Ellis Dyson & The Shambles

Growing up, Ellis Dyson loved listening to music on the radio until many of the songs started to sound the same. They had similar beats and were often formulaic. This epiphany led him to old-time jazz and artists like Jelly Roll Morton, and eventually to playing his own music. He began on the fiddle, moved on to the banjo, and started his own band as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

A man who was seeking sanctuary in a church in Durham was tackled and detained by  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at a routine immigration appointment last week. Samuel Oliver-Bruno arrived at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in Morrisville, North Carolina when plainclothes ICE agents got to him. 

A picture of an 'I Voted' sticker.
Vox Efx / Flickr

State legislators are working on an implementation bill for the newly-passed constitutional amendment that requires photo identification to vote. The amendment passed in November’s midterm elections with more than 55 percent of the vote. 

Cover of the book, Elvis, Strait, to Jesus: An Iconic Producer's Journey with Legends of Rock 'n' Roll, Country, and Gospel Music, by Tony Brown.
Rick Caballo - Dead Horse Branding

Tony Brown is a music industry legend who produced 37 number one singles for George Strait. His legacy is large, but his roots are firmly planted in North Carolina. Brown was raised in Walkertown where his family cherished two things: church and gospel music. 

Courtesy of Hal Crowther

Hal Crowther has a fascination with getting people’s stories right, especially after they are gone. It started with the death of his beloved great-grandmother Mary Ann Naylor Crowther. When the 94-year-old passed away, he realized that deceased people are often “defenselessness as others tell their stories and rank their accomplishments.” 

Courtesy Peter Eversoll

A group of migrants, mostly from Central America, clashed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers on Sunday. Of the thousands of migrants who are seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, hundreds broke off from the group and attempted to illegally cross into the country. Border protection agents fired tear gas into the crowd, which included children in strollers. 

Nags Head
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

A new climate assessment report from the White House forecasts devastating economic and health impacts for the United States. Thirteen federal agencies and the U.S. Global Change Research Program issued the report, which is required by Congress every four years. The report contains a chapter on the Southeast that predicts higher sea levels, coastal flooding, stronger storms, and longer and more frequent heat waves. 

Photo of a performance of Black Poetry Theatre
Courtesy of Black Poetry Theatre

What is a hero, and who gets to be one? A Durham-based spoken word, theater and poetry company tackles these questions in its upcoming production. “Definition of a Hero” started as a piece focused on men’s relationships with their fathers but broadened out to look at the many manifestations of heroism in people’s lives.

Photo of Turkey feathers line the road in front of a 675,000-square-foot Butterball facility where 17 million turkeys are processed each year at world’s largest turkey-processing plant located in Mount Olive NC
Courtesy Michael S. Williamson / Washington Post

Many North Carolina families spent Thursday circled around a big table and probably a big turkey. Some of these turkeys likely came from Butterball, the largest turkey processing plant in the world located in Mount Olive, North Carolina. The town struggled to get back on track after the recession until an influx of Haitian immigrants moved to the area in 2010 attracted by work at Butterball. 

Photo of the Cover of the book, Decolonizing Wealth, by Edgar Vilanueva
Courtesy of Edgar Vilanueva

Today marks ‘Giving Tuesday,’ a day that encourages Americans to stop the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping and instead donate money or time to their community. But where exactly does this money go? And does philanthropy mostly serve the wealthy and the white? Author and grant investment director Edgar Villanueva argues that many philanthropic foundations or corporate giving programs may do more harm than good.

Stock image of banjo
Creative Commons / https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1098772

The public face of Bluegrass in North Carolina has long been male and white, but the genre is now undergoing a transformation. The star-power of Rhiannon Giddens has drawn new attention to the music and the history behind it.  And legacy organizations like the International Bluegrass Music Awards have started to pay more attention to women’s contributions.

Photo of Susan Ladd, journalist and social justice advocate.
Courtesy of Luckyshot Productions

Susan Ladd grew up in a conservative, white family who taught her that black people were dangerous and should be feared. In the early 1970s, her parents chose not to send her to the recently desegregated Little River School near her home, but instead to a makeshift “pop up” school which was quickly erected and hastily staffed so that white children could avoid attending a black school. But despite her parents’ intentions, Ladd developed an intolerance toward racism and sexism and became a defender of the underdog. 

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