The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.Visit the main SOT page.

photo of john bolton speaking at a podium
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Former President Jimmy Carter called John Bolton a “war-like” figure who has advocated for attacks against Iraq, Iran and a pre-emptive strike against North Korea. He considers Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser “a disaster for our country.”

 

photo of the entrance to the 12 x 12 exhibit, detailing the artists and their work
Courtesy of SECCA

Music is the first thing visitors experience at the 12X12 exhibition at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem. They hear one note played over and over again. This singular sound sets the tone for “12X12: 12 Artists from the 12th State,” an exhibition that brings together a group of artists from various backgrounds and artistic practices with one thing in common: North Carolina.

photo of three men playing horns for a huge crowd
Courtesy of the Louis Armstrong House Museum

During the Cold War, the U.S. Department of State sent jazz musicians around the world to sell the American way of life. This initiative took place in the 1950s, during segregation and the beginning of the civil rights movement. Jazz was gaining popularity on the international stage partly because of a Voice of America program hosted by Willis Conover, and partly because jazz musicians, like Louis Armstrong, played international tours.

photo of ava duvernay signing posters for fans
Alex J. Berliner / ABImages

With the new Disney release “A Wrinkle In Time,” Ava DuVernay became the first African-American woman to direct a film with a budget over $100 million. She notes the accomplishment but calls it bittersweet, because it has taken Hollywood until 2018 to support women of color in these roles. 

A barbed wire fence stock image
Pxhere / Public Domain

Staffing and safety issues inside North Carolina prisons are at a perilous point. In 2017, five corrections officers were killed in violent incidents at Bertie and Pasquotank Correctional Institutions. And according to new reports, the deaths are a symptom of a bigger problem.

photo of Levelle Moton and a referee in action
Courtesy of LeVelle Moton

College basketball is part of North Carolina’s lifeblood, and team allegiances are not taken lightly. Yet the head coach of North Carolina Central University’s men’s basketball team is deeply respected by both those who wear the Eagles jersey and those who compete against it.

photo of brian hogan on the front steps of his home
Kathy Kmonicek / AP Photo

According to a report by The Associated Press, the Cherokee Department of Social Services has been systematically and illegally removing children from their homes for years. The actions may have started more than a decade ago and affect at least 100 families.

photo of the 1963 loyola basketball team with coaches. some of the team are white and some are african american.
Loyola University Archives / http://www.lib.luc.edu/specialcollections/items/show/225

When Mark Mehler and Charles Paikert first met to watch their favorite college basketball teams duke it out, they had no idea it would become a tradition. But year after year the two continued to meet at the same local bar, often times cheering for opposing teams. Journalism was their trade, but college hoops was their passion.

photo of elayna jean playing guitar and signing at a microphone
John Guerin

Many of the songs Cosmic Punk performs are rooted in angsty, teenage feelings. Elayna Jean, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, says that is because she wrote a lot of those songs while she was still in high school.

Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis shake hands after the debate at UNC-TV Wednesday night.
Mike Oniffrey / UNC-TV

Facebook’s stock plummeted at the news that 50 million user accounts had been breached and used to create profiles of prospective voters. Since then the company behind the breach, Cambridge Analytica, has been suspended from Facebook. The damage in North Carolina has already been done.

photo of a group of people posing for a picture
Courtesy of SNCC Digital Gateway.

Duke University has teamed up with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Legacy Project to connect today’s young organizers with activists of the civil rights era. The project is called “SNCC Digital Gateway,” and its aim is to pass on informational wealth from the organizers of SNCC to the young people of today, to help inform their activism. Instead of solely taking information from the SNCC activists, researchers treated the activists as partners and fellow scholars in their collaboration on this project.

photo of a man holding a card that says 'asheville is climate city'
Courtesy of The Collider

This month Asheville hosted the first ClimateCon, a conference to explore innovations and business solutions to combat the effects of climate change. The nine-day conference included a business of climate forum, a summit for emerging climate leaders, and community-wide events.

photo of a young boy with electronics
Courtesy Kelly Hinchcliffe / WRAL

More than 100 public schools in North Carolina have applied and been granted approval to participate in a scholastic experiment called Restart. The Restart program allows low-performing schools to operate like charter programs without having charter status.

photo of Barbara and Zachariah Claypole White
Courtesy of Barbara Claypole White

Barbara Claypole White always wanted to be a writer. But she put her passion aside when her young son was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

photo of the back of an african american woman's head, facing a white woman across a table who is out of focus
Courtesy of Derrick Beasley

Throughout modern history the work of African-American artists has often been appropriated for the financial and cultural gain of those outside the black community. Black artists bare their souls to create provocative art, but their work is sometimes tokenized or categorized as being just "black art." At the Bullcity Black Theater Festival in Durham, black artists are challenging perceptions of their work through performances and community conversations. 

Zainab Antepli, a junior at Chapel Hill High School, calls for tougher gun laws in front of a large crowd at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Since the mass school shooting in Columbine, America has seemed almost powerless against rogue gunmen attacking defenseless suburban schools. After the tragic killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, many declared that if America did not make changes after Newtown it never would. 

photo of Tutu Alicante
Courtesy of Tutu Alicante

Tutu Alicante grew up in Equatorial Guinea, a small nation on the western coast of Central Africa. The country is one of the largest oil producers in sub-Saharan Africa, yet many of its citizens live in extreme poverty. The oil profits stay within the government, and long-serving President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo uses intimidation tactics like imprisonment or even execution to silence his critics.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

The special election in Pennsylvania this week turned a reliably red district blue. Democratic candidate Conor Lamb beat Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. Is this a wake-up call for the Republican party?

photo of krish mohan
Courtesy of Krish Mohan

Krish Mohan has been a comedian since his teenage years when he won a talent contest at high school. Looking for a way to finetune his craft, he wound up at a local club practicing his jokes between sets for rock bands. His early humor revolved around being from an immigrant family who moved from India to Pittsburgh when he was just 8 years old. 

photo of ned ferm
Esta Frosch

Ned Ferm was only 4 years old when he decided to pursue a career in music. He grew up on a farm on Mount Desert Island near the coast of Maine and says he is a country boy at heart. But his knack for playing almost any instrument would eventually lead him to perform in New York City alongside renowned jazz icons like Roswell Rudd. Later, Ferm would study jazz at William Paterson University and the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Denmark, where he earned the equivalent to a doctoral degree in saxophone performance.

photo of duke chapel
Wikimedia Commons

In 2014, the LGBTQ community rallied around students at Duke Divinity School after former Dean Richard Hays warned incoming students that under the rules of the United Methodist Church openly gay individuals would not be ordained and gay marriage is not accepted. Though Dean Hays is long gone, some students continue to voice discontent. During the state-of-the-school speech last month, Dean Elaine Heath was interrupted by LGBTQ students carrying bullhorns and chanting “I am somebody, and I won’t be stopped by nobody.”

photo of stage production - a man speaks at a podium and a group of people look up at an angel figure
Sarah Shatz / 'The World Only Spins Forward'

Playwright Tony Kushner subtitled his seminal work a “gay fantasia on national themes.” “Angels in America” is a two-part, seven-hour play that examines the politics and culture of 1980s America through the stories of eight characters living at the peak of the AIDS epidemic. From its debut in a small San Francisco theater in 1991 to its return to Broadway this year, the play has not only earned a Pulitzer Prize and several Tony awards, but it has also struck a chord with actors, activists and writers around the world.

book cover for 'beginner's guide to a head on collision'
Red Hen Press

North Carolina writer Sebastian Matthews was almost killed by a dead man. He and his family had a head-on collision on a North Carolina highway in 2011 when a driver in the oncoming lane passed away from a sudden heart attack. Matthews and his wife were left in wheelchairs with countless broken bones, bruised spirits and a healthy 8-year-old to manage.

photo of sally field and barbara baxley in 'norma rae'
20th Century Fox

For years, critics have contended that Hollywood films leave a lot to be desired when it comes to female representation. Analyses such as the Bechdel test suggest that too often the male-dominated screenwriting world puts women in passive, one-dimensional roles.

photo of sunshine week logo - 'your right to  know'
American Society of News Editors / http://sunshineweek.rcfp.org/sw-logos/

North Carolina law gives citizens the right to all sorts of government data, from state employee emails to the minutes of closed meetings. But how reliable are our state institutions when it comes to delivering that data? That is one question that North Carolina reporters hoped to answer this year for Sunshine Week, an annual nationwide event dedicated to holding government agencies accountable and making citizens aware of their rights to open government data.

copy of the official program of the women's suffrage procession, March 1913
Library of Congress/Public Domain

When people gathered for the women’s marches of 2017 and 2018, they were joining a tradition that dates back more than a century. In 1913, thousands of women marched on Washington wearing purple and gold sashes instead of pink hats, and Rebecca Roberts says they were a lot more radical than today’s activists.

photo of a young girl in a pink tutu
Courtesy of Whitney Wingate

As a former English teacher and Ph.D. candidate, Whitney Wingate believes strongly that words, books and stories matter. So when she had her first child three years ago, it did not take long for her to realize that children’s literature left much to be desired.

Ron Stacker Thompson
Courtesy of UNC School of the Arts

Ron Stacker Thompson knew from a young age that he wanted to be a teacher. He grew up in Chicago, excelled in school, and loved his time in the classroom. He attended Illinois State University and went on to try his hand at teaching. But his work as a drama teacher quickly led to another career on stage.

The Asheville Police Department badge.
Courtesy of APD

North Carolina Rep. Duane Hall (D-Wake) was met with harsh criticism from other Democratic lawmakers, including Gov. Roy Cooper, when he refused to step down amid claims of sexual harassment by multiple women.

photo of JoAnne Smart Drane and Bettye Ann Davis Tillman
UNCG

Before the University of North Carolina at Greensboro was a thriving liberal arts school filled with rich and diverse voices, it was Woman’s College. When JoAnne Drane stepped foot on the campus in 1956, the school was one of the largest women’s colleges in the country, but it was far from diverse. In fact, she was one of the first two black students.

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