Charlie Shelton-Ormond

Podcast Producer

In the past week, protests have taken place throughout North Carolina, and across the country, in response to the death of George Floyd. Floyd, who was born in North Carolina, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last week. In a video, Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” while the officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

The ongoing protests are also fueled by historic and longstanding violence and institutional inequalities perpetrated against black Americans- inequalities that have been illuminated by the pandemic’s death toll.

We talk with William Darity, director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center for Social Equity at Duke University, and the co-author of the new book “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.” We also hear from Brianna Baker, a public health analyst with RTI International, about attending a protest in Raleigh on Saturday and why she feels an urgency to organize despite a pandemic.


Two heads of state clashed this week after President Trump put Governor Roy Cooper in the crosshairs of his active, and now partially fact-checked, Twitter account. Trump threatened to pull the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina if Cooper couldn’t guarantee full capacity for the event in August.

On Thursday, the Republican National Committee sent Cooper a set of guidelines on safety at the convention, but Cooper has asked for more details on the vague game plan.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly is already looking toward November and voters' safety at the polls. A bill is moving through the state legislature that would grant easier access to voting by mail in the upcoming elections.

We talk with WUNC politics reporter Rusty Jacobs about the bill and how it might influence the way people in North Carolina vote this fall.


The main objective of the all the stay-at-home orders was to flatten the curve and make sure hospitals across the state didn’t become overrun. That has so far been successful in North Carolina. But, as "stay-at-home" becomes "safer-at-home," there’s been a spike in cases, percentage of positive tests and hospitalizations. Meanwhile, hospitals and health care workers in other states have seen a greater surge, and are now seeing a greater decline.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, health care employees have worked tirelessly to treat COVID-19 patients — and in many cases save those patients’ lives — while risking their own life in the process. The emotional and mental stress doctors, nurses and others in the medical field experience inside the hospital will likely stay with them after the pandemic subsides.

We check back in with Bevin Strickland, a nurse and doctoral student at UNC Greensboro who recently returned home after working on a contract at Mount Sinai Hospital in Queens, New York. WUNC reporter Liz Schlemmer talked with Strickland about the transition back to North Carolina and the psychological toll of working in critical care during the pandemic.


Once North Carolina’s gradual reopening shifts into Phase 2 Friday afternoon, more places like restaurants, salons, and pools will be given the green light to open up again.

While some business owners are anxious to reopen as fast as possible, others are more cautious. How customers will balance feeling safe and resuming their pre-pandemic lives remains an open question.

We check back in with Christina Pelech, owner of the Fuss & Bother hair salon in Durham, about her next steps as a small business owner, and how she anticipates life in her shop to look during Phase 2.


Gathering

May 19, 2020

Governor Roy Cooper is considering an ease on more restrictions, as the date approaches for the planned move into Phase 2 of North Carolina's gradual reopening.

But reopening hasn't come quickly enough for some. Last week, a network of churches called "Return America" held a rally outside the state legislative building, demanding the right to hold indoor worship services despite Cooper's executive order limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people or less.

On Saturday, a federal judge sided with the church leaders who filed a lawsuit, temporarily granting churches permission to hold large worship services indoors.

But not every church is jumping at the opportunity to reopen its sanctuary. We talk with Rev. Nancy Petty, pastor at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, about weighing the decision to reopen the church and the intersection of COVID-19 with Christianity.


Since the onset of the pandemic, nursing homes have been hotspots for the virus. As congregate living spaces, COVID-19 can spread quickly among its residents, posing serious risks to people 65 and older.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reports around 100 ongoing outbreaks at nursing homes and residential care facilities across the state. Meanwhile, more than half of deaths related to COVID-19 in North Carolina have come out of nursing homes.

But the majority of facilities, thankfully, have yet to endure an outbreak. And many are doing their best to keep it that way, even if it means keeping their residents isolated. We talk with Dan Tunstall, a resident at Carolina Meadows in Chapel Hill, about coping with isolation and maintaining a healthy body and spirit amidst the pandemic.


As people return to North Carolina's stores and parks during Phase 1 of the gradual reopening, there are growing concerns about the health and safety of workers at meat and poultry processing plants across the state.

Last month, President Donald Trump deemed meat processing plants essential infrastructure, and ordered them to stay open for the sake of the country's food supply chain. But working shoulder-to-shoulder on an assembly line poses serious risks for workers, as health experts have repeatedly urged people to keep at least 6 feet apart.

We talk with WUNC's Celeste Gracia and Laura Pellicer about the conditions at two specific plants in North Carolina, and how workers are coping with the decision to go to work despite possible risks to their health.


J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

House Republicans on Wednesday filed articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The lawmakers, including Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), say Rosenstein has withheld documents from Congress and has mishandled his job overseeing the special counsel investigation. The move demonstrates a widening division within the GOP on the handling of the probe into President Trump.

Mitch Prinstein / Penguin Random House/2017

Popularity is often a concern for teenagers, but research shows it also influences life outside the high school cafeteria. Children as young as four years old can identify their most popular peer, and one’s popularity growing up can even predict his or her lifespan.

In the book “Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World” (Penguin Random House/2017), Mitch Prinstein teases apart the distinction between two different types of popularity: likability and status. 

NC State House
NCGA

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh this week for a special session to determine the titles for six proposed constitutional amendments. The amendments will be put to voters this November and include controversial items like a voter ID measure and a push to limit the governor’s appointment powers.

Courtesy of Hope Larson

For decades, dedicated readers have scoured their local comic book stores for the latest issue of their favorite superhero story. But look past the capes and one will quickly come across comics and graphic novels that offer complex and critical analyses of politics and society. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Maus” to recent issues of “Black Panther,” graphic novels and comics allow readers to engage with dense topics and relate to diverse characters and experiences. 

An image of Peter Lamb and the Wolves with Maceo Parker
Peter Lamb and the Wolves

For their latest album, "Carolina Tiger Milk," Triangle-based jazz group Peter Lamb and the Wolves invited some of North Carolina's most prominent musicians.

The band's guest  lineup includes vocalist Django Haskins of The Old Ceremony, saxophonist Maceo Parker and members of the Mint Julep Jazz Band.  

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.

Laura Pellicer / WUNC

 

 

As 2017 wraps up, The State of Things staff goes “behind the glass” to join host Frank Stasio for conversations about the highlights of the year. Some of producer Charlie Shelton-Ormond’s favorite segments include a conversation with activist and community organizer Bree Newsome who removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse in 2015.

Cover of 'Be Free Or Die,' written by Cate Lineberry
St. Martin's Press - 2017 / St. Martin's Press - 2017

Note: this segment is a rebroadcast from June 20, 2017.

In May 1862, Robert Smalls became a Union hero overnight when he stole a Confederate steamer from the Charleston harbor. Smalls had been enslaved his whole life and decided to free himself and his family by stealing the Planter and piloting it to the Union fleet outside Charleston, South Carolina. 


Riverhead Books/2017

Note: this segment is a rebroadcast from June 1, 2017.  

Patricia Lockwood grew up in a Catholic family in the Midwest. But her family’s circumstances were a little different: Lockwood’s father was a priest. Throughout her upbringing, Lockwood navigated her father’s larger-than-life personality and the institutional bindings of the Catholic church.

Director, Spike Lee
Jordan Strauss/Invision / AP Photo

As the year comes to a close, popular culture experts Natalie Bullock Brown, professor of film and broadcast media at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, and Mark Anthony Neal, chair of the department of African and African American studies at Duke University in Durham, recap some of the best cultural moments from 2017 with host Frank Stasio. 

Cover of 'Going to School in Black and White'
Cindy Waszak Geary and LaHoma Smith Romocki

A few years ago, Cindy Waszak Geary and LaHoma Smith Romocki were sitting together in their writing group when they realized that not only did they both grow up in Durham, but they went to the same high school during a period of racial integration in the early 1970s.

Cover of Issue 3 of 'I Don't Do Boxes'
Courtesy of 'I Don't Do Boxes' / Tumblr

The Greensboro-based magazine “I Don’t Do Boxes” features the narratives of LGBTQ youth living in the American South and beyond. 

An image of musician Anne-Claire Niver
Kendall Atwater

The music for the live program in Greensboro was written and performed by Anne-Claire Niver. The Durham-based singer-songwriter was joined by Dan Faust on percussion and Charles Cleaver on the keyboard. She currently has a Kickstarter to help fund her upcoming album. Listen to her perform the song "Mosquitoes" below: 

L.A. McCrae holding a glass of her beer
Courtesy of L.A. McCrae

For L.A. McCrae, beer is a ministry. She owns Black Star Line Brewing Company – the first black-owned brewery in Western North Carolina. 

Marchers and singers at the Poor People's Campaign, Washington DC. May-June 1968, Jimmy Collier is on the left, & Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick on right.
Smithsonian Folkways / Smithsonian - Folkways - http://s.si.edu/2B1fejh

Music as a form of protest has a long history in the U.S. Activists have used songs to guide countless movements, from the abolition fight in the 1700s to anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and beyond.

gavel at courtroom
William Johnson / US Airforce Photo

A new law that took effect last week makes it more difficult for judges to waive fines and fees for people who cannot afford to pay them. Now a judge must issue a 15-day notice to all agencies involved before granting  a waiver. Critics argue this will cause a logistical backlog for the courts and ultimately result in more low-income people going to jail. Proponents say the courts rely on these fees, and the new law will help generate revenue. This law was not directly sponsored by any member of the General Assembly, so it is difficult to distinguish its political supporters.

white supremacists
Anthony Crider / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/WvMgaC

In the play “The Millennium Boy,” 17-year-old Johnny Reinhofer is radicalized by an “alt-right” group that declares hateful messages of white supremacy. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center, joins Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other GOP lawmakers to talk about the GOP tax plan.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

The U.S. Senate is busy debating its tax overhaul bill. A vote on the measure is expected later today. The bill has moved swiftly to the Senate floor, and Republican leaders say they are confident there are enough votes to pass it. 

Courtesy of Professor Tune

Durham rapper Professor Toon has spent years performing music in the city. He has watched the hip-hop scene grow in the Triangle as he has continued to challenge himself as an artist.

John Darnielle and Joseph Fink
Jeremy Lange/Nina Subin

Writer Joseph Fink is a big fan of the Durham-based band The Mountain Goats. Fink is the co-creator of hit podcasts like “Welcome to Night Vale” and “Alice Isn’t Dead” and says The Mountain Goats influences his creative process. For his new podcast, Fink wanted to explore the stories behind The Mountain Goats’ music, so he invited bandleader John Darnielle to dissect songs one at a time.

Courtesy of Jeffrey Crow

The history of North Carolina goes back centuries, so how have the history books shaped our understanding of the state and its residents? 

Steven Diaz of Mountain Lions
Courtesy of Steven Diaz

Singer-songwriter Steven Diaz allows the natural world to both sooth and inspire him. Under the name Mountain Lions, Diaz creates intimate and introspective songs that reflect familiar people and places. In his debut EP “Calm Wind, Starry Night,” Diaz explores motifs of nature and personal identity. 

Actress Rose McGowan stands with Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo Campaign.
Paul Sancya / AP Photo

The number of women coming forward with accounts of sexual assault and harassment continues to grow.  The recent surge in allegations has put toxic masculinity in the spotlight, but many questions remain, such as: are black and white accusers are treated differently.

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