Race & Demographics

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.

Stephanie Wilder of Durham, Protest
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

It’s the first of the month. For many, that means September’s rent is due. But because of Covid-related unemployment, hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians may not be able to pay, and could face eviction.

Hundreds of thousands of North Carolina renters are at risk of being forced out of their homes now that government moratoriums on evictions have expired. Earlier this week, Gov. Roy Cooper announced new grant programs to help people pay their rent and utilities, but many will need to see relief sooner than later as housing payments continue to pile up.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Kathryn Sabbeth, associate professor of law and head of the Civil Legal Assistance Clinic at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, about how a rise in evictions will affect families and communities during the pandemic.

Leoneda also reflects on Republican Party reactions to recent protests in the wake of a police officer shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back in Kenosha, WI.


Protesters march through the streets of downtown Raleigh on Aug. 28, 2020, in support of Black lives and against police brutality.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Updated at 10:32 a.m. Aug. 29, 2020

Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Raleigh Friday night to denounce police violence and the recent killings of Black Americans. Protesters marched peacefully for about three hours carrying signs with slogans including "Abolish the Police" and "Black Lives Matter."

Names of Confederates, segregationists, and white supremacists on campus and government buildings have captured most of the public’s attention when it comes to how institutions are reckoning with structural racismHowever, several prisons across the South also bear the names of problematic figures, or former plantations.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Keri Blakinger, investigative reporter for The Marshall Project, about contextualizing the names of prisons in the South.

Leoneda also recaps the just-wrapped Democratic National Convention, and highlights the significance of the event’s roll call of delegates.
 


Sen. Kamala Harris’s historic nomination as Joe Biden’s pick for vice president is a clear marker of Black women’s longstanding political influence. Black women have been a backbone in politics for decades, from helping organize campaigns to upholding democratic ideals, to now achieving a spot on a national party’s ticket.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Kara Hollingsworth, a partner with the political consulting firm Three Point Strategies, and social justice advocate Omisade Burney-Scott about Harris’s nomination and the role of Black women in politics.

Leoneda also speaks with NPR White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe about the Trump campaign’s efforts to appeal to Black voters.

Plus, we hear from Trei Oliver, head coach of the football team at North Carolina Central University, about a fall without football.


Lamoreaux via Flickr / https://bit.ly/3kHkXhY

The North Carolina city of Asheville is considering removing the names of slave owners and other people associated with discrimination from some streets and a park.

Greg Drumwright
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Greg Drumwright has spent most of his life in North Carolina’s Triad region. He was raised in Burlington, attended college at North Carolina A&T and then Wake Forest, and for the past 17 years has led The Citadel Church in Greensboro.

Who Is Most At Risk For Police Violence?

Aug 10, 2020

This article is part of the Guns & America explainer series. You can read other entries here.

Over the past several years, the problem of police violence in the U.S. has garnered worldwide attention: the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and Walter Scott in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015; and George Floyd in May 2020, among others.

While most historically Black colleges and universities in North Carolina are welcoming students back to campus this month, some small, private institutions are offering only virtual instruction this fall.

Host Leoneda Inge talks with Suzanne Walsh, president of Bennett College in Greensboro, about the college’s decision to go online this semester.  

We also hear Durham-based jazz musician Brian Horton perform a unique rendition of the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often called the Black national anthem.


Image couresy of Kerwin Pittman

It's been less than a month since anti-racist activists posted "Black Lives Matter" on a billboard next to a large Confederate flag in Pittsboro. Now, the owner of that property says he wants the billboard removed.

Leoneda Inge / WUNC

A Honduran woman, who spent the last two years living in a Chapel Hill church, has crossed a major hurdle in her fight to avoid deportation.

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