Race & Demographics

There's a fall tradition that plays a significant role in the lives of historically Black college and university graduates across the nation: homecoming. These events are centered around a football game, sure, but the matchup on the field is no match for the fellowship that takes place as alumni, family and friends gather on campus for a unique kind of annual reunion.

Of course, COVID-19 has changed all that this year. And so, there's an effort to celebrate HBCU homecoming season virtually, by making a monetary donation to these schools right now. Leoneda talks to Shauntae White, a professor at North Carolina Central University who started the online fundraising push, and to Gregory Clark, president of the Florida A&M University Alumni Association, about that economic hit HBCU campuses and the cities they're in will take in the absence of homecomings.

Then, Leoneda makes a trip to the North Carolina State Fair, which is closed for attractions but open to customers seeking a fried food fix. 


Voting can be a complicated process for many.  The pandemic is exposing that, with many rules  only just now being widely discovered for the first time.  For instance, North Carolina’s witness requirement on absentee ballots. 

For new American citizens, the process can be especially hard to navigate. 

Contributed by Hassan Pitts

Many people know the role that Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr. played in the fight for civil rights. But what about Willena Cannon, a student at North Carolina A&T University who was arrested after protesting to integrate Greensboro’s businesses? Or Reverend Steve Allen, who founded one of the first African American law firms in Greensboro in 1979? 

Virtual learning has changed almost everything about the classroom experience in North Carolina, but implicit racial biases remain as a hindrance to students' education. Microaggressions and discriminatory behavior from teachers and other classmates can have detrimental effects on students of color, especially young children in preschool.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Iheoma Iruka, professor of public policy and director of the Early Childhood Health and Racial Equity program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, about what's needed to create an “anti-bias classroom.”

Leoneda also discusses the disproportionate number of rejected mail-in ballots from Black voters in North Carolina, and hears from Pro Publica data reporter Sophie Chou about a recent analysis into mail-in ballots in the 2018 midterm election.


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to rename Vance High School in honor of Charlotte civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers.

In 1997, the CMS board agreed to name the high school in the new Governors Village campus for Zebulon Vance, a Confederate officer and slaveholder who led the state in the 1860s and '70s.

Paint And Poems: Combating Racial Injustice Through Art

Oct 12, 2020
Courtesy Assata Goff

WUNC Youth Reporter Manzili Kokayi highlights how local artists and activists are producing art during lockdown to cope with and amplify the lives taken by police brutality. The following is a transcript of her report:
 


The Greensboro City Council passed a resolution this week that officially apologizes for the police’s role in a tragedy often referred to as the “Greensboro Massacre.” On November 3, 1979, members of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party shot and killed five activists and injured many others during an anti-Klan demonstration. Now, 41 years later, the city is trying to make amends with an apology and an annual scholarship dedicated to the victims. 

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Reverend Nelson Johnson, co-executive director of the Beloved Community Center and a survivor of the Greensboro Massacre, about the city’s apology and what it means for social justice in Greensboro.

Leoneda also reflects on the merits of apologies from elected officials, and highlights the words of the late historian John Hope Franklin in 2005 after Congress apologized for not passing anti-lynching laws in 1950. 


Forty-one years ago next month, a group of Ku Klux Klansmen and members of the American Nazi Party shot and killed five people at an anti-Klan march in Greensboro.

Since that day — Nov. 3, 1979 — community members, survivors and family members of the victims have called for an official apology from the city.

Staff Photo, NC Raise Up/Fight for $15

Council members voted unanimously Monday night to push for federal programs they say would reduce racial inequality. Those include payments to descendants of enslaved African people, a universal basic income, living wage jobs for all citizens, and increasing the federal minimum wage to at least $15 per hour.

gso massacre
Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

Updated at 3:50 p.m. on October 7, 2020

The Greensboro City Council has voted to apologize for the city's role in one of the most violent events in its history.

In a 7-to-2 vote Tuesday, the Council's resolution formally apologized for the Greensboro Police Department's role in the shooting deaths of five people on Nov. 3, 1979 — a day often referred to as "the Greensboro Massacre."

African American churches have long been more than just a place to pray. They have served as spaces to organize and advance civil rights, and in the lead up to the election, some churches are continuing the legacy by boosting voter education.

Host Leoneda Inge highlights a church in Durham, NC that’s providing COVID relief and voter education, and talks with Rev. LaKesha Womack, a business consultant and ordained deacon of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, about her series “Rethinking Church” and the role of clergy during the election. 

Leoneda also reflects on a recent sermon by Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and former president of the North Carolina NAACP.


A woman speaks into a microphone at a protest
Courtesy of Dawn Blagrove

Dawn Blagrove identified her life's work at an early age. As a young girl growing up in 1970s segregated Milwaukee, she read Sam Greenlee's novel "The Spook Who Sat By The Door." It tells the story of a Black CIA operative who goes undercover within the system and takes what he learned back to his Chicago neighborhood to help young people start a revolution. 

A Black Lives Matter billboard that Kerwin Pittman had placed on Tryon Road in Raleigh's Southside for one month. This is the second Black Lives Matter billboard in a campaign he plans to take statewide.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

Raleigh police arrested 12 people during protest activity in the capitol city Saturday night.

With the 2020 U.S. census deadline approaching, North Carolina lags behind its Southern neighbors in its count. Only about 62% of households in the state have responded to the census, and experts say at least 400,000 more households need to be counted to get the most accurate response.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Stacey Carless, executive director of the N.C. Counts Coalition, about the influence of the census on federal funding and political representation. Leoneda also speaks with Melissa Nobles, political science professor and dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, about the history of racial categorization with the census.

Plus, how the cultural legacy of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg calls up thoughts of ways other powerful women in political history have fashionably navigated American democracy.


Concertina wire surrounding a prison
Kate Ter Harr / Flickr Creative Commons

The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled on Friday that three death row inmates will have their sentences reduced to life in prison through the state's now-defunct Racial Justice Act.

A statue on the ground with yellow caution tape and a cone on it.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Months into a global pandemic, a loud cry for racial justice erupted around the country and the world. Protesters took to the streets demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism and repeatedly echoed the names of three recently-killed Black Americans: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Leoneda Inge / WUNC

A COVID-19-related workplace dispute is brewing between a former lottery host and Raleigh-based television station WRAL.

When Lanisha Jones went to vote in the 2016 election, she didn’t think she was doing anything wrong. She thought she was simply exercising her right to vote. But in 2019, the district attorney in Hoke County charged her with voting illegally because at the time she was still on probation from a felony conviction.

Since then, Jones has been fighting the charges, and says she was unfairly targeted for unknowingly committing a crime when she voted.

Host Leoneda Inge joins Jeff Tiberii, host of WUNC’s Politics Podcast, to talk with Jones about the charges and how her experience fits into a larger history of disenfranchisement in North Carolina. Leoneda also speaks with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) about his North Carolina roots, the upcoming election and working to strengthen people’s right to vote.
 


A large group of protesters kneeling in the street in downtown Greensboro.
Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

Months into a global pandemic, a loud cry for racial justice erupted around the country and the world. Protesters took to the streets demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism and repeatedly echoed the names of three recently-killed Black Americans: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Raleigh Police Cruiser
PDpolicecars, via Flickr / https://bit.ly/2Q7UmMD

Raleigh police used expired tear gas on demonstrators during protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, according to a report released Tuesday.

Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown told the City Council there have been 106 arrests stemming from the protests and more warrants are still outstanding.

This week, the childhood home of legendary singer and North Carolina native Nina Simone was granted a preservation easement. The house sits about 90 miles west of Charlotte in Tryon, and is where she taught herself to play the piano at the age of 3 before going on to be a classically-trained pianist. Preservation North Carolina partnered with the owners of the property and a coalition that included the National Trust for Historic Preservation in securing the easement.

Brent Leggs, executive director of the national trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, explains what the easement designation means for Simone’s home.

A crowd of protesters, many of them masked, sit in the street in Raleigh.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

Months into a global pandemic, a loud cry for racial justice erupted around the country and the world. Protesters took to the streets demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism and repeatedly echoed the names of three recently-killed Black Americans: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Kerwin Pittman, 33, of Raleigh, NC, is the founder of Recidivism Reduction Educational Program Services and a field organizer with Emancipate NC.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

Kerwin Pittman is a member of the governor's new task force examining racial inequities in the criminal justice system. He is also a field organizer for Emancipate N.C. and has helped post Black Lives Matter billboards in Raleigh and Pittsboro.

Nina Simone, file
Jack Robinson / Getty Images

The childhood home of iconic musician and civil rights activist Nina Simone will be indefinitely preserved in North Carolina.

Author Carole Boston Weatherford reads to students
Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford wrote her first poem in first grade. She dictated it to her mother on the way home from elementary school in Baltimore. 

Nodia Mena

It's March 31, 1992, and then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and California Governor Jerry Brown Jr. are both at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York, debating education in urban America and sparring over tuition affordability — and gun control — just before the Democratic Party's presidential primaries.

WUNC  Youth Reporter Caitlin Leggett spoke with Durham-based poet Nelson White about both of their motivations to get involved with the Black Lives Matter movement this summer.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

This summer, WUNC is meeting some of the North Carolinians who are "Calling for Change" in the wake of recent high-profile killings of Black Americans.

Tourism in North Carolina has been hit hard by COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has suffered an estimated loss of $6.8 billion in travel spending revenue, according to a report by Visit NC. With lower visitation numbers and limited capacities in public spaces, tourist destinations across the state have had to adjust to the challenging circumstance.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Michelle Lanier, director of the North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites and Properties, about the significance of historic sites during the pandemic. She also speaks with Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit NC, about the financial hit in the tourism industry and ways the state is bouncing back.

Finally, Leoneda recognizes the life and legacy of North Carolina writer Randall Kenan, who passed away last week, and highlights his essay, “Visible Yam.”
 


WFDD, Winston-Salem, protests
Photo courtesy of Bailey Pittenger. / WFDD

Protesters in Winston-Salem ended their 49-day occupation of downtown's Bailey Park this week.

Their demands were met following weeks of coordinated demonstrations including one that took place last month outside the Forsyth County Hall of Justice in Winston-Salem. It marked the release of video footage that depicts the moments before John Neville’s death. Five detention officers and an on-call nurse face charges including involuntary manslaughter.

Protesters in downtown Graham on July 12, 2020. Among other demands, they wanted the Confederate monument in front of the courthouse removed.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Protesters are drenched with sweat as they make the mile-and-a-half walk from Burlington to Graham on a hot July day.

These Black Lives Matter protesters are heading to the town square where they’re greeted with insults and Confederate flags from a group of mainly white counter protesters.

Led by Reverend Greg Drumwright, he advises them to ignore the counter protesters. He said it's more important to get their message out to the masses.

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