Laura Lee

Managing Editor

Laura Lee is the managing editor of The State of Things. Born and raised in Monroe, North Carolina, Laura returned to the Old North state in 2013 after several years in Washington, DC. She received her B.A. in political science and international studies from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2002 and her J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law in 2007.

Laura briefly strayed from her Tarheel allegiance in 2011 to obtain a masters degree in journalism from the University of Maryland where she was an Eleanor Merrill Fellow.  Prior to WUNC, Laura worked for NPR on the Washington desk, All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation. She was previously WUNC's assistant news director for talk programming. 

Ways to Connect

Damon Wayans performing comedy in 2007.
Wikipedia

For some Oscar viewers this year, host Chris Rock’s jokes about race crossed a line. But in the world of humor, is there a line?  

Do certain comedians have greater license to make jokes that might be offensive if delivered by others? And does the composition of the audience matter?

Greensboro skyline
Scott Moore, Flickr, Creative Commons

Approximately 1,000 people gathered in Greensboro on Sunday to protest a controversial new law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.

Participants voiced their opposition to HB2. Gov. McCrory signed the bill into law immediately following its passage. The measure addresses a bathroom ordinance passed by the Charlotte City Council, but it has other provisions that hinder the ability of municipalities to prevent discrimination.

Augusten Burroughs

Author Augusten Burroughs has a habit of making the private public. His memoir “Running with Scissors” (Picador/2003) traces his chaotic childhood with a mother with mental illness, and his eventual guardianship by her psychiatrist. His best-selling book “Dry” (Picador/2013) chronicled the painful outcomes of his drinking and drug use, and detailed his tumultuous journey to sobriety. Burroughs' newest book tackles an even more intimate topic: love. “Lust and Wonder” (St.

From “All The President's Men” to “Spotlight,” Hollywood has followed the work of reporters and journalists throughout film history. The way the fourth estate is portrayed also often reflects other elements of culture and politics in a given era. This month's Movies on the Radio features submissions from listeners about their favorite journalism scenes on the silver screen. Host Frank Stasio talks with Laura Boyes, film curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art, and Marsha Gordon, film professor at North Carolina State University, about the best in journalism films.

The Banjo: America's African Instrument
Harvard University Press

 

 

Laurent Dubois never felt like a true American until he started playing the banjo. His fascination with the origins of the instrument led him on a search to discover its roots and the ways it evolved from an African and Caribbean instrument to its present iteration. Host Frank Stasio talks with Dubois about his new book, “The Banjo: Africa's American Instrument” (Harvard University Press/2016). He also talks with musician Joe Newberry who plays live.

Bathroom sign
Wikimedia

 

  

The North Carolina General Assembly passed a law eliminating nondiscrimination provisions for LGBT individuals by city governments.

An image of Wildin David Guillen Acosta
The Acosta family

Riverside High School senior Wildin David Guillen Acosta was detained by ICE officers in January. Acosta sought asylum in the United States after he says his life was threatened by gangs in his native Honduras.

Legal efforts to stop his deportation failed, but over the weekend, Congressman G.K. Butterfield convinced the director of ICE, Sarah Saldana, to issue an executive stay that allows Acosta to remain in a detention facility in Georgia.

'Darker The Night'

Mar 22, 2016
Lisa London

Like many Americans, author Lisa London grew up with a limited knowledge of what happened in Nazi Germany during World War II. 

But when she began talking with her neighbor, Hilda Sensale, she was surprised to discover stories about the time period from the perspective of a German youth. Lisa used the experiences of Hilda as the basis for her coming-of-age book.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Hilde Sensale and Lisa London about Darker The Night (Deep River Press/2016).

 

Supreme Court Justice nominee Merrick Garland
US DOJ

President Obama made his selection for the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court this morning: Merrick Garland.

The President called on the Senate to confirm the former prosecutor and DC Circuit Court Chief Judge. And the road to the White House has one less traveler after Marco Rubio bowed out following his defeat by Donald Trump in his home state of Florida.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump won their respective fights in North Carolina yesterday. 

Roy Cooper's Campaign Donations
Suja Thomas

During the two months of 2016, Democratic gubernatorial challenger Roy Cooper continued to receive more individual campaign contributions than Republican incumbent Pat McCrory. Both candidates saw an uptick in donations as the state's March 15th primary approaches.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

The North Carolina primary is just days away and early voting is already underway. White House hopefuls from both sides of the aisle are visiting the state to make their final pleas for votes. '

Will Tuesday’s votes solidify the nominees on both sides? And GOP contenders met again last night in Miami for a more civil exchange than earlier debates.

Guest host Phoebe Judge talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest.

Wikipedia Commons/ Hkeely

 In an era where many consumers get their news from Twitter feeds and Facebook posts, how do complex stories of corruption, crime and power get told? And what are the challenges facing today’s shrinking cohort of investigative reporters? 

Image of prison cells
Chris Miller / Flickr Creative Commons

More than 3,000 individuals are currently incarcerated on death row. And the headlines are filled with the details of the crimes they committed and their journeys in the criminal justice system.

But what do we know about their lives, both before their sentencing and after their incarcerations? 

Image of police tape
Tony Webster / Flickr Creative Commons

Residents of southeast Raleigh are raising questions about the circumstances around a Raleigh officer fatally shooting 24-year-old Akiel Denkins.

Eyewitnesses say the white officer shot Denkins as he fled on foot. Police say the officer was trying to serve a warrant related to drug charges, and found a firearm near Denkins' body. Community members gathered last night for a march and vigil.  

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporter Jorge Valencia about the shooting and community response.

Image of voting booths
eyspahn / Flickr Creative Commons

The results from Super Tuesday are in and Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are leading the pack. Early voting begins tomorrow in North Carolina and the primary is less than two weeks away.

Do Tuesday's results strengthen or weaken the state's impact on the race for the White House? 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Michael Bitzer, political science professor at Catawba College, about what the results from Super Tuesday mean for North Carolina.

Margaret Spellings on The State of Things
Charlie Shelton for WUNC

 

Four months after her controversial selection, Margaret Spellings takes the helm of the UNC system today. The former U.S. Secretary of Education faces a broad range of competing priorities.

The Board of Governors hired Spellings on the heels of the forced resignation of her predecessor Tom Ross. As the new leader of the system, she will address issues ranging from budget matters to concerns about academic freedom. 

Image of Shaw University President Tashni Dubroy
Terrence Jones / Shaw University

As a teenager in Jamaica, Tashni Dubroy struggled to understand chemistry. But after a breakthrough moment in her high school chemistry class, she fell in love with the science.

She moved to the United States to attend community college, and then to Raleigh to attend Shaw University.

Can Bernie Sanders use grassroots action to catch up to Hillary Clinton?
Phil Roeder / Flickr Creative Commons

Trump’s path to the White House looks more likely as he wins primaries in South Carolina and Nevada. Will Super Tuesday allow another GOP candidate to take the lead?

And will Bernie Sanders be able to leverage small donors and grassroots action against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton?

Also, the four democrats who seek Richard Burr’s senate seat meet for a debate next week.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest in political news.

Image of Theodore Roosevelt
Library of Congress

The 2016 race for the White House is full of expectations from both sides of the aisle about the role of the 45th president. How has that office evolved? And what does history tell us about how presidents are judged?

A picture of a gavel on a document.
Brian Turner / Flickr Creative Commons

The North Carolina legislature votes today on new congressional district maps. The move is required by a ruling of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that declared the current districts unconstitutional because of racial gerrymandering.

Lawmakers are expected to move the primary date for the congressional races from March 15 to June 7 and reopen the filing period for those races. The measure also calls for the elimination of runoff elections. 

The modern day race for political office includes a series of competitions for endorsements and money. And the race for chief executive of North Carolina is no exception.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper have each raised millions of dollars in advance of a gubernatorial election that is expected to be among the closest in the country.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina voters will head to the polls to cast their primary ballots in about one month. As the election draws near, candidates are working hard to gain support, particularly financial backing.

The end of January marked the deadline for campaign committees to report their end-of-year financials, and WUNC examined contributions to the two frontrunners in the governor’s race: incumbent Pat McCrory and democratic challenger Roy Cooper.

Cooper received smaller donations than McCrory on average, but the attorney general raised more money overall. 

The Republican presidential field has thinned with Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina dropping out. Ohio Governor John Kasich remains and will try to keep up the momentum follwing his second-place finish in New Hampshire.
Alex Hanson / Flickr Creative Commons

The race for the White House heats up as voters in Iowa and New Hampshire made their choices. Several candidates, including Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina, dropped out after poor showings in the first two contests.

And in North Carolina, the March 15 primary is in flux because of a court ruling declaring two congressional districts unconstitutional.

What Is In A Kiss?

Feb 10, 2016
A new multimedia installation in Raleigh looks at the intimacy of the kiss on public display.
Prayitno / Flickr Creative Commons

When Thomas Edison put the first kiss on film at his Black Maria studio in 1896, it was nothing short of scandalous. The 23-second, silent, black and white footage put the intimate on public display.

A new interactive multimedia project in Raleigh explores the intimacy of the kiss by inviting members of the public to have their kisses filmed in the same style as that first infamous lip-locking.

Litigation, legal, gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal appellate court declared North Carolina's 1st and 12th Congressional Districts unconstitutional because they were gerrymandered on race. The court ordered legislators to redraw the districts within two weeks.

The ruling puts many issues surrounding the March 15 primary, including early voting and absentee ballots, in question.

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