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.

Carolyn Coleman serves on the NAACP National Board of Directors and as the First Vice President of the North Carolina NAACP
NAACP

Carolyn Coleman got her first taste of community activism as a young girl in a segregated community in Savannah, Georgia. She and her mother went door-to-door collecting signatures to advocate for neighborhood improvements. She continued to work for civil rights and social justice for close to six decades.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that she will step down as press secretary by the end of June 2019.
Evan Vucci / AP

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be stepping down at the end of June, as announced through tweets from President Donald Trump. Sanders has been in Trump’s press office since his 2016 presidential campaign.

Courtesy of Christina Proenza-Coles

History tells stories of America being founded by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, and discovered by Christopher Columbus. While many have challenged Columbus’ high importance in the history books, a new publication reveals a wave of settlers, conquistadors and revolutionaries that came long before the Europeans. These “founders” were of African descent.

Courtesy of Rebecca Newton

Rebecca Newton is a well-known name on the North Carolina music scene. The longtime musician and artist promoter has spent decades performing in groups and working to promote her bands and other people's music.

Tamara Keith began covering the White House in 2014.
Courtesy of Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith has been covering the White House for NPR since 2014. In that time she has reported on the Obamas, spent countless hours on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton and traveled on a surprise trip to Iraq with President Donald Trump.

Rihanna fled the threat of violence in El Salvador in 2014.
Michal Huniewicz / Creative Commons

President Donald Trump’s administration has made several significant shifts in the country’s immigration policies, including a travel ban on those from several Muslim-majority countries; reducing the number of refugees admitted to the country; and enforcing policies that make it harder for individuals to seek asylum in the United States. A case in western North Carolina highlights the impact of the changes for asylum-seekers.

Louis Austin served as the editor of the "Carolina Times" from 1927 until his death in 1971.
Courtesy of Jerry Gershenhorn

For more than 40 years the “Carolina Times” was the preeminent black newspaper in North Carolina. It covered the day-to-day happenings in Durham, but its power and reach went far beyond the Triangle.

Craig Hicks when he was first brought into Durham County courtroom 7D.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Craig Stephen Hicks pled guilty to murdering three Muslim students at a Chapel Hill apartment complex in 2015. The death penalty was taken off the table and both sides agreed to three life terms in the shooting deaths of Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Abu-Salha, and her younger sister Razan Abu-Salha who lived in the same apartment complex as Hicks.

NPR reporter Frank Langfitt stands next to the taxi he used to give free rides to strangers in Shanghai to investigate shifts in China's social and political paradigm.
Courtest of Frank Langfitt

Reporter Frank Langfitt was no stranger to China when he started the job of NPR Shanghai correspondent in 2011. Langfitt had worked for a newspaper in Beijing from 1997 to 2002, but the country he returned to on this new assignment was vastly different from the one he had lived in before.

Le'Andra McPhatten is a musician and the director of Le'Andra's Music Studio in Durham.
Denise Allen / Courtesy of the North Carolina Arts Council

North Carolina’s strong cultural traditions in music, crafts, dance and food have been evolving for generations. Millennials are now taking the helm and putting their own spin on various folk and traditional art forms.

A fire at an apartment complex in May 2018 was a wake-up call for Greensboro to address its affordable housing crisis.
David Ford / WFDD

This summer the city of Greensboro plans to sue the 10 landlords with the highest number of housing code violations. These companies have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines owed to the city.

Robert Mueller is the latest in a long line of Federal Prosecutors who have played critical roles in American political history.
Carolyn Kaster / AP

Robert Mueller is part of a long line of special prosecutors in American history. Scholars point to the Ulysses S. Grant administration as the first to recognize that the U.S. Department of Justice might not be the most reliable entity to investigate a sitting president.

Guitarist Roy Robers is one of the artists featured in the film.
Roy Roberts

As the great R&B artists of the 1960s and ‘70s traveled between Atlanta and Washington, D.C., they often made a stop in Greensboro, North Carolina. That stop meant talented, young musicians from across the state had a chance to rub elbows with — or even play alongside— famed musicians of the time, people like Little Richard and Otis Redding.

Barefoot Modern recently won the Best Alternative Indie Award at the Richmond International Film Festival.
Barefoot Modern

Barefoot Modern recently walked away with the Best Alternative Indie Award for their musical submission at the Richmond International Film Festival. They beat out more than 2,000 bands to earn that spot and have since set their sights on garnering even more national attention with their roster of original tracks.

Twentieth Century Fox

From Erin Brokovich's fight for environmental justice to the lush natural world in James Cameron’s “Avatar,” nature and the environment often play a starring role in film.

For the next edition of “Movies On The Radio,” we want to know which film about nature stuck with you the most? Is it Reese Witherspoon’s tough journey in “Wild” or maybe the classic animated film “FernGully: The Last Rainforest?”

While much of the country was suffering during the Great Depression, Nathan Garrett’s family found a safe haven in Durham, North Carolina. At the time the city was fertile ground for the African American entrepreneur, and the Garrett family ran the local pharmacy. Nathan learned the ropes of running a business, and he fondly remembers a community that was proud and self-sustaining. He eventually left Durham to attend Yale University, where he was part of the largest influx of African American students the university had known: a class of four.

a black and white photo of the front of the North Carolina Mutual building
Archives, Records, and History Center/North Carolina Central University

As Durham celebrates its sesquicentennial, host Frank Stasio invites a panel of community leaders, business owners and activists to look back at the history of the Bull City and trace how its economy, politics and culture have shifted in the past 150 years. They home in on Black Wall Street: a four-block district on Parrish Street that was once a mecca for black-owned businesses.

NC Museum of History

The idea of quilting may conjure an image of sorting through old scraps of material and patching them together to make a blanket. But in pre-Civil War America, quilting was a hobby primarily reserved for the wealthy. Only families of means could afford fabric and spare the leisure time. The woman of the house often had slaves or servants to assist with her quilting, and those quilts were a sign of social status.

In a sweet tea-colored swamp in Bladen County, North Carolina there is a group of trees that has intrigued researchers for decades.

Scientists knew the bald cypress trees that sprouted up from the Black River were old, and a new study reveals a number of the trees date back millennia. One tree is at least 2,624 years old.

The bald cypress' remarkable age reveal information about climate history in the region, including whether the people who lived in the area experienced significant droughts.

University of Texas Press

Soccer is a source of national pride in many Latin American countries. The greats like Brazil's Pelé or Argentina's Diego Maradona are legends on and off the pitch. But women have also been an integral part of soccer in Latin America since its advent, and their stories are often pushed to the side.

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

Lawmakers in the North Carolina House and Senate are negotiating the state budget. The primary differences in the spending plans approved by each chamber include the amounts allocated for teacher and state employee raises, cost of living adjustments for state retirees and education.

Blue Cottage Agency

20 years ago, two students at Columbine High School in Colorado killed 12 of their classmates and one teacher in what was the deadliest school massacre in the nation’s history at the time.

Cary-resident Kacey Ruesgegger Johnson was a junior at the time and was sitting in the library reading a gossip magazine when gunfire erupted. The events that followed led to lifelong physical and mental scars and a declaration that she would never go into a library again.

Courtesy Jared Yates Sexton

Jared Yates Sexton rose to prominence for his coverage of President Donald Trump’s political rallies in the lead up to the 2016 election. His reporting culminated in the book “The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters on Your Shore: A Story of American Rage,” and his interest in the culture surrounding Trump only continued to grow. 

photo of a newborn in the hospital
pixabay

UNC Children’s Hospital is under investigation after a New York Times report revealed high death rates among pediatric heart patients. The numbers were so worrisome that the hospital’s pediatric cardiologists were reluctant to refer patients to their own surgeons.

In 1984 when Clarence F. Birkhead became a deputy sheriff in Randolph County, he had no idea he would eventually take the helm as Durham’s first African American sheriff. Birkhead finds it counter-intuitive that a town with such rich black history and culture had not elected a black sheriff prior to 2018, but he says he is humbled to be the first.

a headshot of De'Shawn Charles Winslow
Julie R. Keresztes/Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing

Azelea “Knot” Centre is an independent, strong-willed woman who likes to live life on her own terms. She is an unabashed alcoholic who refuses to comply with societal norms, like marriage. Her next door neighbor, Otis Lee, is a close friend who tries to “fix” Knot by trying to convince her to settle down and live a more traditional life.

Photo of Mia Ives-Rublee with her dog Vezzini
Chris Riggs / Courtesy Mia Ives-Rublee

Mia Ives-Rublee grew up surrounded by adults who were worried about her well-being. She has Osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic bone disorder more commonly known as brittle bone disease, and uses a wheelchair to get around. 

Matt Slocum / AP Photo

Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave his first public statement Wednesday since the release of his report into Russian interference in the 2016 election. His main message: Read the report. Beyond that, he highlighted that charging a sitting president with a crime “was not an option.”

Jen Schradie's book cover
Courtesy of Harvard University Press

Online movements accompanying major protests like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street made people optimistic that digital activism could level the playing field and fuel a new generation of political activism. Some pundits thought the internet would be the great equalizer — giving all perspectives equal weight and access.

the bandmates posing with their instruments outside
Courtesy of Sabra Music

The Asheville-based swing group Queen Bee and The Honeylovers made their entire debut album a tribute to their beloved hometown. “Asheville” came out in late April and features tunes about the historical characters and legends of the city in the style of a 1920s swing record.

Pages