North Carolina stories that captured your attention in 2022
It was an eventful year in North Carolina. Vaccines continued to roll out as the state – and the world – continued to battle the pandemic caused by COVID-19 and its variants. Between news in health, politics, sports, civil rights, education and more, WUNC tracked the stories that mattered to our audience.
Politically, it was a big year for North Carolina. The state added a congressional seat, had a sitting congressman ousted in a primary, elected a new U.S. Senator, and saw the balance of power shift in the state supreme court. And now, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case that could change election law in North Carolina.
The state also had to grapple with Hurricane Ian and its lingering impact. And in Raleigh, a community continues to heal after a shooter killed five people were killed in the Hedingham neighborhood in October.
Our reporters also dug deep into stories about a post-Roe world in North Carolina healthcare, why fishermen in the eastern slice of the state have concerns about offshore wind, the proposed name change to Fort Bragg, and Duke’s new football coach.
With the year ending, we’re looking back on WUNC-produced stories that captured your attention, according to our data. Here is a selection of the stories that were read by y’all, our readers, the most in 2022.
Race, Civil Rights and Southern Culture
In August 1955, Chicago teenager Emmett Till died a gruesome death. The Black boy was lynched while visiting family in Mississippi. No one has ever been convicted of the crime, but an unserved warrant was recently discovered for Carolyn Bryant Donham.
- "That was censorship": UNC-Chapel Hill Stone Center cancels photo exhibition by Black artist Cornell Watson
When asked about his final feelings on the exhibition’s cancelation, Watson pointed back to the community he was asked to represent in his art. “I think like the most important thing, right? Is this is about Black Chapel Hill. And honoring their history,” Watson said.
Brown’s death sparked national attention and nightly protests in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. But those have since faded and in their place, two factions have emerged, both demanding change in the community, but disagreeing on what that change should look like.
"If you're willing to hear the pain from Enfield with me as the conduit, then I'm definitely going to take whatever risk that means so that this sort of light can continue to be shown on this infection that we call white supremacy, and no one will be allowed — not one person — will be allowed to say it's not true... because we see it."
Impact On North Carolina
Forty-five thousand customers — representing nearly all residents in Moore County — lost power when one or more individuals used firearms to attack the substations in early December. Most residents went nearly four days without power, facing temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
"If you are on well water and particularly if you're in this region where there's high arsenic, you need to be really careful, and you need to be testing your water and you need to be using water filters."
“20 to 30 mile per-hour wind gusts are clearly possible with this event. So, any ice that accumulates will be aggravated by the wind, which could bring down trees and power lines."
North Carolina leaders were quick to react to the court's 6-3 decision. Attorney General Josh Stein said on Twitter: "I have a message for the women of North Carolina: you still have a legal right to an abortion in our state. North Carolina state law protects women's reproductive freedoms."
All the historically Black colleges and universities in the UNC System are using federal COVID-19 relief funds to offer free summer courses this year to at least some students, as part of a range of initiatives that directly benefit students.
"I did very much feel like I was living paycheck-to-paycheck and, and I'm hoping that that's something I'll be able to escape, kind of moving out of public service… which is a sad thing to say."
28 years later — after multiple judges, several trips to the North Carolina Supreme Court, a 300-page report on how to improve school conditions, Democratic and later Republican controlled legislatures that failed to act, not to mention an untold number of court filings — the case remains open and unfinished.
"This will be – the finality of it, you can’t avoid that… It's going to be, you know, a basketball game, but every play, everything that happens, we're going to be looking at Coach K to see what his reaction is. Everybody in the building probably will, right? Because it's the last time he's going to do this.”
From 2019 compared to this season, the Courage are averaging 1,451 fewer fans per home game in the regular season, a decrease of more than 24%. "The fan support has wavered and there are reasons for that," defender Merritt Mathias said. "My personal opinion is that we miss you guys."