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.

The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline run through eight counties in Eastern North Carolina.
Roy Luck / Flickr/ Creative Commons

Gov. Roy Cooper’s handing of the permit process for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is under scrutiny.

New information from public records requests raises questions about the role he played in the dispute between Duke Energy and Strata Solar, a solar energy company that Cooper was once in business with and his brother continues to make money from. NC Insider Reporter Lauren Horsch combed through public records including Cooper’s schedule and e-mails and texts with his staff, which revealed a 2017 correspondence from the CEO of Strata Solar requesting that the governor make “a call to Duke leadership.”

students protesting with police officers in the foreground
Courtesy of the UNC-Chapel Hill University Libraries

Fifty years ago, food services workers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill went on strike for better wages and working conditions. The Black Student Movement supported the strike, which put a spotlight on labor and racial inequities at the university.

Image of writer Tayari Jones
Nina Subin

Tayari Jones is committed to writing about the South as she sees it. Her critically-acclaimed novels are all deeply rooted in Atlanta and explore the intersection of black family stories with the structures that define American life.

Movies On The Radio: Tearjerkers!

Mar 18, 2019
Flickr/Creative Commons

Oh, is there something in your eye? It’s not your fault. Some movies are simply designed to be tearjerkers. 

 Maybe you wailed as a tween over Jack Dawson’s cold “Titanic” death, or needed a tissue to get through a classic like “Steel Magnolias.” Did your lip tremble as Simba and Mufasa frolicked as father and son in “The Lion King” without knowing the tragedy in store? Or is it injustice that elicits sobs when you watch scenes from “The Green Mile” or “Precious?”  

Duke University School of Medicine

Georgia Beasley was one of the most impressive athletes to come up through the Duke University women’s basketball program. When she graduated in 2001, she was part of the then-winningest senior class in its history, with 111 career victories. Beasley was named ACC Player of the Year in 2000 and 2001, and her performance led her to be drafted into the still-young WNBA. But Beasley always knew her remarkable sports career would not be a lifelong pursuit.

Thom Tillis speaking
http://thomtillis.com/

The Senate voted on a resolution to block President Trump’s national emergency declaration. Twelve Republican senators sided with Democrats, but North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis was not one of them, although he previously stated he would vote against the emergency declaration.

Courtesy of Lachlan Watson

Raleigh-native Lachlan Watson got their start in acting by being at the right place at the right time. As the smart, quirky kid who hung out at Burning Coal Theatre while their mom worked front of house, Watson got called in to play all kinds of roles, from a child in the throes of the Enron scandal to a dog. Their acting chops earned them many future roles including the titular part in “Henry VI,” but it was the experience of playing such a wide swath of characters that Watson says helped them learn to express their identity in an authentic way. 

Photo courtesy of David Wimbish.

Singer-songwriter David Wimbish had a tumultuous couple of years. He weathered a lengthy divorce process with his ex-wife and former bandmate, saw multiple friends pick up and move to the west coast and struggled through the near-dissolution of his large and boisterous band, The Collection. But Wimbish decidedly chooses gratitude over grumpiness. He used his enduring spirituality and awe for the natural world to start writing songs that would become The Collection’s latest record, “Entropy,” released in Oct. 2018. 

The Cape Fear river continued to rise due to rainfall Hurricane Florence
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Six months ago Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas and doused the region for days with heavy rains. The historic storm broke 18 flood records across North Carolina, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Coastal communities remain in recovery mode, with businesses attempting to finish repairs by the next tourist season and residents still trying to navigate complex housing, insurance and unemployment processes.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Court of Appeals Judge Mark Davis to the North Carolina Supreme Court. Davis succeeds Cheri Beasley who last month became the first African-American woman to serve as a supreme court justice for the state.

a photo of the border wall at Progresso, Texas
Susan Harbage Page

Susan Harbage Page has been a border crosser since childhood. From traveling around Europe with her family in a Volkswagen bus to working in Palestine in the 90s, she has long wondered about the lines that divide us. Why do people on one side enjoy great wealth while those on the other side have less?

Two men smiling and laughing next to each other
Laura Frankstone

What happens when a painter and a poet start working together on the same idea? North Carolina poet Jeffery Beam found out when he started collaborating with Welsh painter Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Both men had collaborated with other artists before — but never as they were creating the work side-by-side.

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

Sunshine Week is a nationally-observed celebration of access to information, transparency and open government. Public records and open meetings give citizens the power and knowledge to hold officials accountable, and they are a foundational part of a functioning democracy.

Scott Huler

It seems young Englishman John Lawson wanted to leave his mark on a rapidly-changing world. In 1700 he journeyed to the port of Charleston, SC and later set off on a two-month voyage through what was then colonial Carolina. His notes and observations became one of the earliest and most important travel records of the area, though Lawson himself was killed in 1711. More than 300 years later, author Scott Huler decided to re-trace Lawson’s route and see what remained of the world he once documented. His own book, “A Delicious Country: Rediscovering the Carolinas along the Route of John Lawson's 1700 Expedition” (University of North Carolina Press/2019) emerged from that journey of discovery.

The cover features a house on fire
Courtesy of Belt Publishing

19th century writer Charles Chesnutt was once the most popular African-American author of his time. But everything changed after he published the 1901 book “The Marrow of Tradition” (Houghton, Mifflin and Company/1901). It was a fictionalized account of the 1898 race riot in Wilmington, North Carolina, and critics slammed the book. A high-profile editor even called it “bitter.”

a photo of Iris Yang
Iris Yang

Iris Yang grew up in China with two parents who were high-achieving educators. They wanted her to be a good student and successful woman, and their passion was biology. She aimed to please them and followed their suggested path.

 

Yang was one of a few students accepted to the China-United States Biochemistry Examination and Application program, and at 23, she was sent to America with a borrowed $500 and poor English. She went on to study molecular biology and worked with researchers at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She made her parents proud, but she could not let go of a deep-seated desire to pursue one of her first loves: literature.

A bear cub in a green leafy tree.
NC State University

Can humans and black bears coexist? This question has become increasingly relevant in North Carolina as both the human and bear populations continue to grow. Black bears now live on about 60 percent of the state’s land and are very adaptable to different climates, which has led to an increase in human run-ins with black bears over the past two decades. 

photo of Ben Phan holding a guitar
Ben Phan

Ben Phan remembers living in a van with his ex-girlfriend, bumming around the country and searching for a place to clean up his act and reinvent himself.

a photo of Smiley's Farmer's Market empty.
Cass Herrington

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested more than 200 people around North Carolina in early February. And according to new reporting, this action had a noticeable impact on local commerce in western North Carolina. 

Creative Commons / pxphere

This winter, waves of journalists across the country lost their jobs as major media organizations made significant cut backs. Among them, media giant Gannett cut an estimated 400 people, and The McClatchy Company offered voluntary buyouts to about 450 people. The mass layoffs follow years of staff cuts at newspapers and media outlets across the country. 

Robert DeNiro in a suit in a casino
Classic Film / Creative Commons https://bit.ly/2TiNL6k

The latest edition of Movies on the Radio is all about gangster, mob and mafia movies. Listeners share their favorite movies focused on the world of crime, from the family business in “Married To The Mob” to the crooked cops in “Training Day.”

North Carolina’s Leaky Educational Pipeline

Mar 5, 2019
VIA Agency

Parents across America have long told their children that the surest path to a well-paying job is through education. At one time that meant earning a high school diploma, but today more and more jobs in this country require something more than a high school degree. According to a new report from Carolina Demography, by next year, 67 percent of jobs in North Carolina will require some post-secondary education. Today, less than half of North Carolinians have such qualifications. 

Guerrilla Girls at the Abrons Art Center, 2015.
Andrew Hinderaker

Female artists have stood in the shadows of their male colleagues for much of art history, and that disparity is still evident in many art museums today. A survey of 18 prominent institutions in the United States found that close to 90 percent of artists whose work is on view are both male and white. The North Carolina Museum of Art says they hope to correct that imbalance.

photo of Jacob Tobia
© Oriana Koren

Jacob Tobia grew up a gender non-conforming child in the Triangle. And while many narratives of LGBTQ life in the South are saddled with stories of bullying and strife, Tobia had a different experience.

Teenage photo of Cash Michaels
Courtesy of Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels is known for sharing the African-American perspective on news stories around North Carolina. He has been a newspaper journalist since the 1980s and writes for six African-American papers around the state. 

Mark Harris fights back tears at the conclusion of his son John Harris's testimony during the third day of a public evidentiary hearing on the 9th Congressional District voting irregularities investigation Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019.
Travis Long / The News & Observer via AP, Pool

Prosecutors have indicted Leslie McCrae Dowless, the political operative accused of harvesting absentee ballots in favor of Republican candidate Mark Harris in the 2018 midterm election. Dowless was indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and illegal ballot possession related to both the 2016 and 2018 elections. 

Courtesy of Bryant Holsenbeck

Remember that resolution to stop eating junk food, or scaling back on late night treats, or promising to recycle more? Nearly ten years ago, Bryant Holsenbeck made a commitment to giving up single-use plastic for an entire year. 

Courtesy of Simon Pauly

As a youngster growing up in Carthage, North Carolina, Lucas Meachem had his sights set on a career in landscaping. As a teen, he had his own lawn mower, weed wacker and a green thumb. Plus, his family’s 10 acre property gave him plenty of opportunities to hone his skills. Then he discovered karaoke. Specifically, what Meachem found was the immediate gratification of an audience. 

Spike Lee poses with the award for best adapted screenplay for 'BlacKkKlansman' in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Jordan Strauss / AP

Hollywood's biggest night of the year is over, and in the wake of all the glitz and glam there is both celebration and head scratching. Spike Lee won his first competitive Oscar for best adapted screenplay and jumped into presenter Samuel L. Jackson’s arms in one of the most emotive moments of the night. 

Group photo from The Campaign for Southern Equality.
Courtesy of The Campaign for Southern Equality

More than 500,000 transgender people live in the South, according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. National data show that nearly a quarter of trans people do not get any kind of healthcare because of a fear of discrimination. A new report from the Campaign for Southern Equality and Western NC Community Health Services examines the specific barriers faced by transgender people who live in the South. 

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