SOT Meet Series

The Monday Meet series features conversations with people with strong ties to  North Carolina who have compelling personal stories. Host Frank Stasio talks with a range of people about their life, work, and how the two intersect.

Felipe de Jesus Molina Mendoza speaking at a protest against the Trump administration’s immigration policies in Raleigh.
Laura Pellicer / WUNC

UPDATE: Immigration officials in Charlotte have delayed the deportation order for Felipe de Jesus Molina Mendoza until a federal appeals court renders a decision on his asylum case. 

Mexican-born Felipe de Jesus Molina Mendoza is asking for asylum in the United States. He says he faces harassment if he is forced to return to Mexico because he is openly gay. Last time he was in Mexico, Molina Mendoza says he and a former boyfriend were attacked with beer bottles because of their sexual orientation.

Image of special agent Rosalynde Fenner
Rosalynde Fenner

  Note: This program is a rebroadcast from January 25, 2016.

Image of Shaw University President Tashni Dubroy
Terrence Jones / Shaw University

As a teenager in Jamaica, Tashni Dubroy struggled to understand chemistry. But after a breakthrough moment in her high school chemistry class, she fell in love with the science.

She moved to the United States to attend community college, and then to Raleigh to attend Shaw University.

An image of community organizer Bree Newsome
Courtesy of Bree Newsome

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from January 9, 2017.

Activist Bree Newsome gained national attention in the summer of 2015 when she was arrested for scaling the flagpole at the statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, and removing the Confederate flag. The act of civil disobedience took place in the wake of the killing of nine African-American people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

Image of Sheri Castle on her first birthday
Courtesy of Sheri Castle

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from November 14, 2016.

Food and storytelling have gone hand in hand for Sheri Castle since she was a little girl. At the age of four, she wrote her first original recipe: a smoothie she called “Hawaiian Tropic Sunset Delight.”

Portrait of Marshall Rauch from 1962.
Courtesy Marshall Rauch

Marshall Rauch made a name for himself as the first Jewish senator in North Carolina. Before that he played basketball for Duke, fought in World War II, helped integrate Gastonia, and was the largest producer of Christmas ornaments in the world.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Rauch about his legacy and how his faith played a key role in everything he did including the Christmas business.

Meet Nancy Petty

Dec 12, 2016
Reverend Nancy Petty
CREDIT PULLEN BAPTIST CHURCH

As an activist pastor at Raleigh’s progressive Pullen Baptist Church, Nancy Petty is often making news. She is openly gay and has championed marriage equality and LGBT rights. She has led Moral Monday protests and chairs the Reverend William Barber’s Repairers of the Breach board. Most recently her work has focused on facilitating interfaith dialogue with Raleigh’s Muslim community and fighting Islamaphobia and racism.  Her transformative journey from her small town upbringing in Shelby, North Carolina, paralleled major social shifts happening in the churches she has served.

Courtesy of Malinda Maynor Lowery

Malinda Maynor Lowery is a Lumbee Indian whose family goes back more than 10 generations in Robeson County. Lowery was born in Lumberton, N.C. but raised in Durham, where from an early age, she often fielded the question, “what are you?” Although she grew up in a family with a strong sense of Native identity, this question stayed with her much of her life, and eventually became the subject of much of her academic and documentary work.

Michelle Lanier

Note: This program is a rebroadcast. It originally aired May 2, 2016.  

Michelle Lanier’s roots in North Carolina are so deep that she describes “every branch of her family tree having at least a sapling that crosses into the state.” She has a great-grandparent who preached at the oldest black Episcopal church in the state, one who was salesmen on Durham’s Black Wall Street, and one who helped establish the state’s first black high school.  

The cover of Running Man, a memoir by Charlie Engle.
Scribner/2016

Charlie Engle spent much of his young adulthood chasing the next high. His addiction to drugs and alcohol nearly cost him his life.

But he eventually attained sobriety, and along the way, developed a new passion: running. He started with marathons but moved to longer distances and adventure expeditions.

In 2006, he led a team across the Sahara, a feat documented in the film, Running The Sahara. His fame drew the attention of government officials, including one determined tax agent at the IRS.

WUNC

Wildin Acosta was 17-years-old when he came to North Carolina. He enrolled at Riverside High School in Durham and was a well-loved student. Last January he was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, and his case galvanized the local community. 

Eric Loewen
GE

America’s reliance on fossil fuels is contributing to global warming, posing a threat to the future of the planet. Much of the discussion around mitigating climate change centers on sources like solar and wind power, while nuclear power is often left out of the conversation. Fear about safety and expense have hindered the development of nuclear power as a sustainable energy source for the United States, but Eric Loewen hopes to change that perception.

An image of Duke postdoctoral associate Duke Marisol LeBron
Marisol LeBron

Growing up in the Bronx, Marisol LeBrón witnessed two conflicting realities. She saw the diverse and vibrant communities around her neighborhood of Parkchester, but she also witnessed the struggles of Bronx's residents around stigmas about poverty and crime.

Image of Michelle Moog-Koussa with the minimoog.
Courtesy of Michelle Moog-Koussa

More than 50 years ago, Robert Moog revolutionized electronic music with the invention of the Moog synthesizer. It was one of the first widely-used electronic instruments and has been featured in music by artists ranging from The Beatles to jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. But despite his immense career success, Moog kept his professional and personal lives separate. In fact, it was not until his death that his daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, began to learn about his professional influence.

Stefan Litwin is a piano composer and music professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Hans Joachim Zylla

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from February 8, 2016. 

For Stefan Litwin, playing the piano is personal. Litwin was born in Mexico City in 1960 after his parents fled from the Nazis in Europe years earlier.

He grew up speaking three languages but always felt like an outsider. He went on to study piano in Switzerland and the United States, all the while channeling his family's experience in the Holocaust through composing music.

Meet Nancy Petty

Sep 12, 2016
Pullen Baptist Church

As an activist pastor at Raleigh’s progressive Pullen Baptist Church, Nancy Petty is often making news. She is openly gay and has championed marriage equality and LGBT rights. She has led Moral Monday protests and chairs the Reverend William Barber’s Repairers of the Breach board. Most recently her work has focused on facilitating interfaith dialogue with Raleigh’s Muslim community and fighting Islamaphobia and racism.  Her transformative journey from her small town upbringing in Shelby, North Carolina, paralleled major social shifts happening in the churches she has served.

An image of Yaba Blay
Sabriya Simon

  Note: This segment originally aired on Monday, March 7, 2016.

Growing up in New Orleans, Yaba Blay saw firsthand the different roles one navigates as an African-American. At home, she had to adjust to the Ghanaian culture of her parents, but outside the house, her dark skin set her apart from New Orleans' light-skinned Creole community.

Photo of a young Tarish Pipkins
Courtesy of Tarish Pipkins

Tarish Pipkins describes puppetry as composing a symphony in 3-D, and one quick glimpse at his work clarifies exactly what he means. Pipkins' puppets are incredibly complex, but they move in both a realistic and graceful way.

photo of Rapsody
FortyOnceGold

This program originally aired July 11, 2016.

Growing up in the small town of Snow Hill, N.C., Marlanna Evans, a.k.a Rapsody, wasn't exposed to much hip-hop music. She would listen to the songs her older cousins played in the car, but she didn't develop a love for rap until college.

While attending North Carolina State University, Evans helped a hip-hop culture grow on campus with a student music group that would meet in a dormitory lounge to rap battle. She eventually started making her own rhymes and met producer and Jamla Records founder 9th Wonder.

An image of Doriane Lameblet Coleman
Doriane Lambelet Coleman

Growing up, Doriane Lambelet Coleman did not see herself as an athlete, but she always had a talent for running. She moved back and forth between her home country of Switzerland and the United States as a kid, and she never found a stable community until she started running track in high school.

headshot of Whitney Way Thore
Deborah Feingold

This is a rebroadcast of a program that originally aired on June 27, 2016.

Whitney Way Thore knows how much she has weighed at every point in her life.

And for decades, deconstructing the size and shape of her body consumed much of her mental and emotional energy. She struggled with an eating disorder, compulsive exercise, and eventually was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome.  

Justin Natvig as Vivian Vaughn
D.j. Bonet V'lentino & After Six Photography Studios

Justin Natvig has had a flair for performance most of his life. As a young kid, he often snuck into his grandparents’ attic and dug through his grandmother’s things: vintage dresses, hats, wigs, shoes and makeup. He would put it all on, play Diana Ross records and lip sync in front of the mirror. For many years, he kept this passion a secret as he struggled with a family that would not accept his identity. 

Diana Matthews / Algonquin Books

This program originally aired April 4, 2016

Lee Smith started writing stories when she was nine years old and sold them for a nickel a piece.

Many of them were inspired by the gossip, true stories and daily grind she observed at her father's dime store, deep in the coal mining mountains of Virginia.

photo of Keith Knight
Keith Knight

Knight was recently on The State of Things in advance of his appearance at the Durham Comics Fest.

Keith Knight has considered himself a cartoonist since he was in diapers, doodling on the walls of his family home near Boston.

While that spirit of creativity has not changed, the content of Keith's work has taken on more profound issues. Keith is known for drawing a weekly political cartoon called "(Th)ink" that often provides commentary on police brutality, racial profiling, and the black experience in America.

photo of Jo Maeder
jomaeder.com

Since she was a little girl, Jo Maeder has loved radio. Her fascination became a career path and Jo became "The Madame," a popular deejay on several major rock and roll stations in Miami and New York.

An image of Saul Berenthal and his family
Saul Berenthal

As a Jewish child in Cuba, Saul Berenthal never felt like an outsider. His parents fled to the country from Eastern Europe during the Holocaust and eventually raised Berenthal in the Jewish and Cuban cultures. After the Cuban revolution, Berenthal and family came to the U.S. in 1960 to start a new life.

Bill Ferris has been a leading documentarian of southern culture for more than five decades. His work has preserved the work of blues musicians, painters, writers and many more.
Marcie Cohen Ferris

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from Monday, December 7. 

When Bill Ferris meets someone, he usually asks, “Where are you from?”

The simple question prompts an important answer for the folklorist. For Ferris, a sense of place is integral to one's identity, and there is hardly a more influential and complex place in shaping identities than the American South. 

Most kids who grow up playing catch in the backyard dream about making it to the major leagues one day. For minor league baseball players, they are one step away to that dream. The Durham Bulls are one of the more well-known minor league teams thanks to the classic movie "Bull Durham."

For the team's players, life on the diamond includes regimented routines, long stints on the road and a chance to make it to the professional level.

University of Mount Olive

  

Lenard Moore's bus ride to his segregated school in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was long, and often boring, but he quickly found that books could fill the void.

At first it was just "Green Eggs and Ham"  and "The Gingerbread Man." But those turned out to be the simple beginnings of a love for literature that blossomed into a career as a poet.

When Lenard joined the Army, poetry became his outlet. By the time he got out, he was writing an average of four poems a day, and started exploring a centuries-old form of poetry, the haiku.

Attorney Wade Smith
Tharrington Smith

As a young boy in Stanly County, North Carolina, Wade Smith did not know what he wanted to be when he grew up; he knew only that he had a deep desire to do something "good and useful." 

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