Ron Stacker Thompson knew from a young age that he wanted to be a teacher. He grew up in Chicago, excelled in school, and loved his time in the classroom. He attended Illinois State University and went on to try his hand at teaching. But his work as a drama teacher quickly led to another career on stage.
As 2017 wraps up, The State of Things staff goes “behind the glass” to join host Frank Stasio for conversations about the highlights of the year. Some of producer Charlie Shelton-Ormond’s favorite segments include a conversation with activist and community organizer Bree Newsome who removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse in 2015.
Note: this segment is a rebroadcast from June 20, 2017.
In May 1862, Robert Smalls became a Union hero overnight when he stole a Confederate steamer from the Charleston harbor. Smalls had been enslaved his whole life and decided to free himself and his family by stealing the Planter and piloting it to the Union fleet outside Charleston, South Carolina.
Host Frank Stasio talks with writer Cate Lineberry about her new book “Be Free Or Die: The Amazing Story of Robert Smalls’ Escape from Slavery to Union Hero” They discuss Smalls’ escape and his life after the Civil War.
Note: this segment is a rebroadcast from June 1, 2017.
Patricia Lockwood grew up in a Catholic family in the Midwest. But her family’s circumstances were a little different: Lockwood’s father was a priest. Throughout her upbringing, Lockwood navigated her father’s larger-than-life personality and the institutional bindings of the Catholic church.
As the year comes to a close, popular culture experts Natalie Bullock Brown, professor of film and broadcast media at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, and Mark Anthony Neal, chair of the department of African and African American studies at Duke University in Durham, recap some of the best cultural moments from 2017 with host Frank Stasio.
A few years ago, Cindy Waszak Geary and LaHoma Smith Romocki were sitting together in their writing group when they realized that not only did they both grow up in Durham, but they went to the same high school during a period of racial integration in the early 1970s.
The music for the live program in Greensboro was written and performed by Anne-Claire Niver. The Durham-based singer-songwriter was joined by Dan Faust on percussion and Charles Cleaver on the keyboard. She currently has a Kickstarter to help fund her upcoming album. Listen to her perform the song "Mosquitoes" below:
A new law that took effect last week makes it more difficult for judges to waive fines and fees for people who cannot afford to pay them. Now a judge must issue a 15-day notice to all agencies involved before granting a waiver. Critics argue this will cause a logistical backlog for the courts and ultimately result in more low-income people going to jail. Proponents say the courts rely on these fees, and the new law will help generate revenue. This law was not directly sponsored by any member of the General Assembly, so it is difficult to distinguish its political supporters.
The U.S. Senate is busy debating its tax overhaul bill. A vote on the measure is expected later today. The bill has moved swiftly to the Senate floor, and Republican leaders say they are confident there are enough votes to pass it.
Writer Joseph Fink is a big fan of the Durham-based band The Mountain Goats. Fink is the co-creator of hit podcasts like “Welcome to Night Vale” and “Alice Isn’t Dead” and says The Mountain Goats influences his creative process. For his new podcast, Fink wanted to explore the stories behind The Mountain Goats’ music, so he invited bandleader John Darnielle to dissect songs one at a time.
Singer-songwriter Steven Diaz allows the natural world to both sooth and inspire him. Under the name Mountain Lions, Diaz creates intimate and introspective songs that reflect familiar people and places. In his debut EP “Calm Wind, Starry Night,” Diaz explores motifs of nature and personal identity.
The number of women coming forward with accounts of sexual assault and harassment continues to grow. The recent surge in allegations has put toxic masculinity in the spotlight, but many questions remain, such as: are black and white accusers are treated differently.
The music for the live program in Greensboro was written and performed by Carmen Bliss. The Greensboro-based singer-songwriter combines rhythm and blues compositions with lyrical narratives. Listen to her perform the song "Around" below.
Growing up, Zen Reyes thought she would establish a career in the fashion industry. She spent some time studying fashion in New York City and figured she might become a designer one day. But eventually a different passion came calling and Reyes began producing and recording her own music under the name ZenSoFly.
Robert Mueller’s team handed down their first indictments this week in the ongoing investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Former Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates turned themselves into the FBI and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Meanwhile Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives released their tax bill Thursday with hopes to pass it through before the end of year. And federal judges reviewing North Carolina’s legislative district maps have ordered an independent “special master” to draw new lines.
This week Brunswick County filed a lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont for their involvement in discharging the contaminant GenX into the Cape Fear River. The lawsuit is seeking to recover the costs to the county for investigating, managing, reducing and removing the chemical.
It is one of several lawsuits against Chemours and DuPont. Last week a Leland resident filed a class action lawsuit against the two companies after she discovered GenX in her water heater.
The U.S. Senate has backed away from a proposal to close military bases for now, but that is not stopping some communities from planning ahead for the next round of cuts.
In Goldsboro, organizations and civic leaders are teaming up with the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to improve the base’s facilities and increase engagement with the community. The partnership is a part of strategy to improve relations with the military and bolster the efficiency of the base.
John Coltrane is widely recognized as one of the most iconic and influential jazz musicians of all time. His work as a saxophonist and composer is known to the world, and it all started in North Carolina.