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 yellow flag with red and blue circle around a gold star.
Wikimedia

Voters will cast their ballots this week in elections for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribal government.

A sepiatone picture of a chair with two winding dragons as the back and arms.
Gregg Museum of Art & Design

Furniture maker Tilden Stone crafted a steam boat 200 miles from the sea. Despite the portholes, pointed bow and stacks, he meant for this structure to be his home, and he lived in it until his death in 1952. At his nephew’s house — also in Lincolnton, North Carolina — he constructed a giant shoe in the front yard.

Monica White walks in a field with a farmer.
Courtesy of Monica White

It is difficult to disentangle agriculture from oppression in African American history. From slavery to sharecropping, farming for black Americans has frequently manifested in some form of exploitation. But scholar Monica White aims to reframe the history of black agriculture through examining moments of resistance and resilience.

Sonny Kelly on stage
Huth Photography/Courtesy of Sonny Kelly

North Carolina playwright, actor and teacher Sonny Kelly has made it his mission in life to inspire others. He aims to use performance and ministry to connect with people, especially marginalized kids. As a young man in the U.S. Air Force, Kelly felt like he had no real purpose or direction in his life.

A warehouse of barrels.
Courtesy of Southern Distilling Company

The ABC Store is a tradition that has ruled North Carolina since the end of prohibition. Alcohol was a divisive political issue after prohibition ended, and North Carolina took a firm stance.

Mipso

The North Carolina-based band Mipso is always on the move. The group is just finishing up a 20-stop summer tour of the U.S. and Canada, and this fall the group will venture back out to a slew of European countries including France, Germany, Austria and Sweden.

One of the vape juice's packaging looks like a juice box, others have unicorns.
Courtesy of the North Carolina Attorney General's Office

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced lawsuits against eight electronic cigarette companies earlier this week. He alleges that their marketing practices and flavor selection specifically target kids and teens.

Christina Koch is in between two astronauts in space suits.
NASA

A North Carolinian is slated to set a new record on the International Space Station.

A few bowls of flour sit out on a table.
Courtesy of Molly Dektar

In her debut novel “The Ash Family” (Simon & Schuster/ 2019) Durham native Molly Dektar draws on her personal fascination with cult psychology and devout sustainability.

A colorful card showing all the main characters from the film.
Library of Congress

Follow the yellow brick road to The State of Things’ celebration of the 80th anniversary of the film adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 1939 film’s mesmerizing visuals, hit musical numbers and heartwarming characters are still revered by audiences today.

Clipart of a ballot box
Wikipedia

The North Carolina Board of Elections will not force counties to use hand-marked paper ballots in upcoming elections. The new board chair Damon Circosta split from his fellow Democrats in a vote Friday to side with two Republicans on the board.

An 80s art-style movie poster advertisement for VHStival.
Courtesy of VHStival

In 1971, the Video Home System (VHS) was just a dream in the minds of Yuma Shiraishi and Shizuo Takano at the Victor Company of Japan. Yet the engineers were already considering the impact home entertainment could have in forging what they called “the information society.” Affordable equipment radically lowered the bar of entry to movie production. Independent and avant garde film found niche audiences through networks of local video rental stores. The stores were a weekly ritual for many families and a gathering place for community.

Courtesy of David Hambridge

In the award-winning documentary “Kifaru,” director and North Carolina State University alumnus David Hambridge follows two young Kenyan caretakers charged with protecting Sudan, the last male northern white rhinoceros in the world.

Headshot of Vanada Dake
Courtesy of Alliance Architecture

Architect Vandana Dake was recently listed in Durham Magazine as one of 20 incredible women making an impact locally and globally. Born in India, Dake landed in Durham almost by accident.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump accused Jewish Americans of being disloyal if they vote for Democrats. The comments evoke the anti-Semitic idea of “dual loyalty” and that Jewish citizens are more loyal to Israel than to their own countries. What kind of impact will this have on the 2020 election?

Courtesy of Floyd McKissick Jr.

A University of Michigan study of North Carolina death penalty trials from 2012 showed that prosecutors on average struck black jurors at 2.5 times the rate of white jurors. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court forbid prosecutors from using the basis of race alone to reject jurors, racial bias is alive and well in North Carolina’s justice system.

The album cover featuers a hand gripping a chin and neck.
Courtesy of Loamlands

Durham-based, local legend Kym Register, who performs as Loamlands, returns this summer with their sophomore album “Lez Dance.”

Wikimedia

Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine, wrote “all diseases begin in the gut.” He continued the line with the famous advice: “let medicine be thy food and food thy medicine.” New research confirms Hippocrates’ thinking, showing the human gut does much more than just process food.

White polie officer Chris Hickman sits during his trial.
Angela Wilhelm/Asheville Citizen Times

Earlier this month former Asheville police officer Christopher Hickman pled guilty to felony assault in the 2017 case involving black pedestrian Johnny Rush. Hickman was charged in March 2018 after footage of him choking and violently beating Rush was leaked to the media. Now, Hickman could see his charges dismissed after one year if he follows through on a first-of-its-kind restorative justice program.

A tan hand holding an IUD.
Sarah Mirk / Creative Commons

Planned Parenthood pulled out of the Title X program Monday after the Department of Health and Human Services ruled that clinics receiving Title X funding may not refer patients to abortion providers. After months of threats, Planned Parenthood refused to abide by the ruling and opted to give up federal money in favor of maintaining abortion services.  In North Carolina, Planned Parenthood affiliates were stripped of federal funding in May.

Solar panels convert solar energy to usable engergy.
Pxhere

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality recently released a plan to significantly reduce greenhouse gases from electricity production over the next decade. The goal is to get to zero emissions by 2050, starting with a 60 to 70% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.

The Toppling Of Silent Sam: One Year Later

Aug 20, 2019
The base of the Silent Sam statue stands surrounding by a fence.
Alex Foyler

The future of Silent Sam still remains uncertain. The Confederate statue has been stored in a secret location since its toppling last fall, and the UNC System Board of Governors has indefinitely postponed making a decision about its future.

Revisiting The Case Of The Tarboro Three

Aug 20, 2019
Brian Lampkin looks down off camera.
Courtesy of Brian Lampkin

In the summer of 1973, three black men from Tarboro were sentenced to die in North Carolina’s gas chamber after being tried and convicted of raping a white woman. The story made national news, and Tarboro became the center of a larger conversation about race, civil rights and criminal justice. The men maintained their innocence and refused plea deals that may have lightened their sentences, but it was not until The Southern Poverty Law Center stepped in did they receive a new trial and a new chance at life.

Pickett measures her patient's height.
Courtesy of UNC Greensboro

When Stephanie Pickett was a nurse at Duke University Medical Center, more than 90% of the patients she saw with kidney failure were black. This shocking racial health disparity both bewildered her and inspired her to take action.

Cecil sits on a stool playing his guitar and sings into a mic.
Courtesy of David Ray Cecil

Singer and guitarist Dave Ray Cecil began writing music when he was six years old. As a child, he strung notes together on the piano and secretly used his brother’s guitar to write songs.

Courtesy Merge Records

As a kid, Laura Ballance was most comfortable slipping into the background. Her introverted nature gave her plenty of space to think and create on her own. As a teenager, she found punk through a music video of Adam and the Ants, and the “otherness” they expressed spoke directly to her.

Image of a nuclear bomb test explosion in the Pacific in 1958.
Nevada National Security Site

More than 500,000 American veterans were exposed to nuclear weapons tests from the 1940s to the early 1990s. These so-called "atomic veterans" were not permitted to speak about their participation in the tests until 1996 when the Nuclear Radiation and Secrecy Agreements Laws were repealed. Now the veterans who were exposed to the radiation from the weapons program will be offered a certificate marking their contribution.

Volunteers in blue vests escort women into a clinic in the face of protestors.
Lindsay Beyerstein & Martyna Starosta / ReWire.News

In their budget, Republican state lawmakers proposed $2.6 million in funding for crisis pregnancy centers and anti-abortion organizations. This funding would quadruple the amount given to one particular nonprofit, despite a report from the state Department of Health and Human Services that does not recommend expanding the program.

Image of soul and hip hop artists Sonny Miles performing with a guitar.
Kai McNeil

Artist Sonny Miles is on a journey back to himself. After a year spent refining mixtape collaborations, he is dropping a new EP: “Gamma.” It is a return to his roots in acoustic soul and pays homage to the last three years he spent learning beat making and hip-hop performance.

Toni Morrison passed away August 5, 2019.
Wikimedia Commons

Last month, President Donald Trump called Baltimore a “rat and rodent-infested mess” and told four Democratic Congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” These are just the latest examples of a repeated tactic: the president denigrates women and people of color who oppose him and his policies. What power do his words have and how do they affect the people and the cities he attacks? Popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown take on that topic with host Frank Stasio in the latest installment of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context.

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