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.

A photo of Attorney General William Barr smiling
Evan Vucci / AP

Three Democratic presidential candidates have dropped out of the race in the last week: former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Andrew Yang all suspended their campaigns.

Courtesy of Mebanesville

The musical project Mebanesville started 20 years ago with just five friends playing in a new coffee shop.Two decades later, the project has seen band members come and go, but nobody ever really leaves for good.

Courtesy of Virtual MLK

In this current climate of persistent heated discourse, it can be easy to forget that there was a time when one well-delivered speech could change hearts and minds. Such a speech was delivered inside the sanctuary of Durham’s White Rock Baptist church in 1960.

Mikkey Girl / Disney

2.5 billion people around the world play video games. From Words With Friends to League of Legends, games are revolutionizing how we relate to one another. In many ways, gaming has become its own culture. But it might not be exactly what you'd expect. Most gamers play on their cellphones and nearly half are women. Most people playing video games are doing it with other people. And in response to hate-speech online and IRL, marginalized gamers are creating sanctuaries. On this edition of our Embodied series, host Anita Rao explores what gamers can teach us about socializing. 

Don McCullough / Flickr Creative Commons

A judge voided the deal between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Sons of Confederate Veterans over the controversial Silent Sam statue.

Black man looks puzzled holding a comb while looking at his daughter's massive afro, with a plethora of hair products before them.
Sony Pictures Animation

What happens when a black father tries to do his young daughter’s natural hair for the first time? In the animated short “Hair Love” a battle ensues: The father wields a comb as his weapon, but his first attempt is a miserable failure.

Sign that reads: Water Filtration Facility, 7441 Poplar Springs Church Road Sanford, NC 27330
Greg Barnes

Research on chemical pollutants in North Carolina’s rivers and streams is stacking up, and the results are unnerving.

Man on stage looks out at audience.
Courtesy of Jeff Polish.

What would it feel like to stand up in front of a group of people you do not know and talk about some of the most personal moments of your life? It is a special kind of terror that is usually reserved for professional comedians or actors, but in the past few decades, more and more everyday folk have been trying it out through live storytelling events popularized by organizations like The Moth.

Courtesy of Jessica Yinka Thomas

Jessica Yinka Thomas grew up in both the United States and West Africa. Her father, a Nigerian economics professor, and her mother, an American computer scientist, raised their four kids between Miami, Nigeria, Senegal and eventually Maryland to get them ready for college in the states.

Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

ECU trustee Phil Lewis resigned this morning during a special session of the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors.

 

Matt Couch/WUNC

Who really owns Silent Sam? Archaic property law and a 1913 speech underpin the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ claim to the contentious monument torn down in Chapel Hill in 2018.

Sign reading "Mechanics and Farmers Bank Established 1908."
Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks are iconic figures in the country’s Civil Rights Movement. But who led the charge in North Carolina? The prominent, but little-known black banker John Hervey Wheeler played a large role.

Wyatt Kane

Keenan Jenkins excelled in school, leaving his hometown of Rocky Mount in high school to attend the highly-selective North Carolina School of Science and Math. But music pulled him away from his studies, and midway through completing his doctorate, he came to the conclusion that his creative pursuits needed his full attention.

Courtesy of The Daily Reflector

Infighting among the East Carolina University Board of Trustees has spilled out into the public realm once again. In the latest scandal, two trustees, Robert Moore and Phil Lewis, are accused of trying to convince a student to run for ECU student body president so they could ensure a voting majority on their board. 

Bill Bamberger / Courtesy of Weatherspoon Art Museum

From its creation in the late 19th century, basketball captured America’s attention. What began with James Naismith and two peach baskets evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry with its reach extending beyond sports to marketing and fashion. 

Courtesy of The Daily Tar Heel

The storied Tobacco Road rivalry extends far beyond the walls of the Dean Dome or Cameron Indoor. Student journalists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s The Daily Tar Heel and at Duke University’s The Chronicle have always covered the leadup to the big game, but last year they started combining forces to create the “Rivalry Edition.” 

Frankie Leon

Earlier this week, Earth Fare suddenly announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy, surprising its 3,000 employees who are still awaiting the details of their severance packages. The closure was unexpected even for founder Roger Derrough, who sold the company in 2007.

Cup of black coffee.
Creative Commons

Warfare has been part of human existence since the beginning — and so have mind-altering substances. Drugs have funded wars, fueled soldiers on the battlefield, helped to expand and establish nationstates and more.

an ancient text showing a small black man and a large white man
Pseudo-Aristotle / Courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill University Libraries

Pain treatment is different for white and black patients in the United States. One recent study shows black patients were 40% less likely to get medication to ease acute pain than white patients in the emergency room. Why does this happen?

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Democratic presidential candidates are traveling from Iowa to New Hampshire after facing their first test with voters. There is still about a month to go until North Carolinians weigh in on who will face President Donald Trump in the general election.

Headshot of Canales.
Courtesy of Carla Canales

American classical music is overwhelmingly male and white, so if you’re trying to encourage diversity and equity in youth orchestras, the repertoire choices are not great. A new partnership between Durham-based El Sistema USA and The Canales Project is trying to mix it up.

Vince Rozmiarek

Hold your groans! Wordplay can be inventive, poignant and, at its finest, a shared discovery.

NIAID

The Wuhan coronavirus epidemic is officially a global public health emergency. The World Health Organization’s declaration frees up resources for nations to contain the virus’ spread outside its origin in central China.

Alex Maness

In 1991 a chicken processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina caught on fire, killing 25 people and injuring 55 others. The Imperial Food Products plant fire is one of the worst industrial disasters in U.S. history — and now the subject of a new play.

Fruit of Labor logo
Courtesy of Angaza Laughinghouse

Members of The Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble perform five-part harmonies and play instruments. But do not make the mistake of calling them a band. Their mission is much broader than playing gigs and producing albums.

North Carolina Climate Office

Many people could have worn flip-flops in the last days of 2019. The week before New Year’s Eve featured 70 degree days — but it was not a fluke. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, 2019 was the warmest year on record in North Carolina so far. 

Scott Sharpe / News & Observer

In an ambitious new project, visual journalists from The Charlotte Observer, The News and Observer and the McClatchy Company spread out across the state of North Carolina to record the concerns of regular people.

Book cover reads: The Future of Feeling: Building Empathy in a Tech-Obsessed World.
Little A Publishing

Do you say please and thank you to your smart speaker? With each update, technology inches closer towards a greater understanding of the human condition. Empathy remains a trait exclusive to people, but that could change.

A military member in distress
Alex Pena / U.S. Air Force

A clinical trial of active-duty military members showed for the first time that a known pain treatment can also be effectively used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jamea Richmond-Edwards / Courtesy of E. Patrick Johnson

Writer E. Patrick Johnson was hesitant to collect the stories of queer black Southern women. He is a cisgender gay black man, and the divide between the male and female experience was something he felt he could not portray on the page. But after being encouraged by women who wanted their experiences known and shared, he found a way to spotlight their voices.

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