Leoneda Inge

Race and Southern Culture Reporter

Leoneda Inge is WUNC's "Race and Southern Culture Reporter." She is the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position, which explores modern and historical constructs to tell stories of poverty and wealth, health and food culture, education and racial identity.

Leoneda's most recent work includes the series, "Perils and Promise," an in-depth series focused on the challenges of rural education in Vance County. Leoneda has also featured reports on "Organic Tobacco," "Rebuilding Slave Cabins" and traveled to Tokyo, Japan tracking the importance of North Carolina’s pork industry to that country.

Leoneda is the recipient of three Gracie Awards from the Alliance for Women in Media and several awards from the Associated Press, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and the National Association of Black Journalists. In 2006, she and a team of WUNC journalists won an Alfred I. DuPont Award from Columbia University for the series "North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty."

Leoneda is a graduate of Florida A&M University and Columbia University, where she earned her Master's Degree in Journalism as a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economics. In 2014, Leoneda traveled to Berlin, Brussels and Prague as a German/American Journalist Exchange Fellow with the RIAS Berlin Commission/RTDNF.

Ways to Connect

Thousands of jobs are on the chopping block at Cisco Systems.  But analysts wonder if that’s enough to turn the company around.   Inge reports.

The 6,500 lay-offs at Cisco are no surprise.

Emily Chang - Bloomberg TV:  "Reports of impending layoffs have been circulating for weeks at the networking giant looks for ways to slash a billion dollars."

One of the first Crystal Red Chevy Volts arrives in North Carolina.
Leoneda Inge

If you are in downtown Raleigh this week you may see some small, brightly painted cars on the road that look out of place.   They’re likely electric cars on display for the national electric car conference – “Plug-In 2011.”  But there are also some sporty electric cars on display that will make your head turn in disbelief.  It’s a sign of the times and just how far the industry has come. 

Leaders in the North Carolina Department of Commerce are taking a renewed interest is business with Russia.

North Carolina business leaders are pretty sophisticated – according to Jean Davis.

Jean Davis:  "Many of our North Carolina companies have solid bases in China and Japan and are now looking at Russia as the next horizon for them."

Two North Carolina communities have been awarded money from the state to help revitalize their downtowns.

The matching dollars are from the Main Street Solutions Fund – administered by the Department of Commerce.   This round – the cities of Salisbury and Lenoir were awarded grants.  Nick Dula is the Downtown Economic Development director for Lenoir.  He says the plan is to turn a vacant furniture store into Carolina Distillery, a restaurant and a wine store.

A bison on RG Hammonds' farm in Lumberton roams close to his golf cart
Leoneda Inge

There’s a section of eastern North Carolina where the Lumbee Indians call home.  The Lumbee have a long history of farming and ranching.  But just like African American and women farmers, they were discriminated against by the federal government.   And just like those groups – Native Americans filed a class-action lawsuit – and won. This week – lawyers are back in Pembroke, North Carolina helping the Lumbees file their claims for long-awaited compensation. 

The “Freedom Rallies” of 1963 were remembered and honored yesterday with a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker. 

The “Freedom Rallies” took place in the town of Williamston – in Martin County.  For 32 days – hundreds of mostly African Americans held mass meetings and marches, anchored at Green Memorial Church.  Diane Carr was 12-years-old during the “Freedom Rallies” and remembers singing and marching to the courthouse to demand equal rights.

Preparations are being made to pay thousands of dollars to Native American farmers and ranchers who were discriminated against by the U-S-D-A.

The North Carolina Museum of History launched a new online exhibit today that takes a close-up look at the struggle for equal and civil rights across the state. 

As soon as you log onto the website – you are serenaded by Sam Cooke.  The name of the exhibit is “A Change is Gonna Come: Black, Indian and White Voices for Racial Equality.”  It covers the years 1830 to 1980 – from the Indian Removal Act to the rise and fall of Soul City.  Earl Ijames is the curator of the exhibit. He says it was going to be a physical exhibit before the 2008 recession.

Guilford County is in the running for a massive solar power project.

National Solar Power of Melbourne, Florida has selected seven finalists for what it says will be the “world’s largest solar farm” – and Guilford County is on the list.  Gail Vadia is a spokeswoman for the Greensboro Partnership – a community and economic development organization in Guilford County. She says National Solar Power has already been in contact with land-owners.

The number of residents in the Triangle living in poverty is about 14-and-a-half percent and growing.  A group of community leaders met in Durham yesterday to try to address the problem. 

Community, political and business leaders took part in a “poverty simulation.”  Henry Kaestner – co-founder of Durham Cares – played an 8-year-old boy whose family managed to secure health coverage after a lay-off.

Henry Kaestner:  "The relief on her face was not a role-playing relief, it was very real relief."

Cynthia Booth works with Durham’s Parks and Rec Department.

Some historians refer to the Civil War as the “war between the states" – a white man’s war.  But to many people of color – it was the “war for freedom.” And during this mighty war, no other place in North Carolina had more “free” slaves than New Bern.

When the Union Army seized the city, word spread fast. Slaves travelled from across the state and outside its borders to get to New Bern.

President Obama speaks at Cree Inc. in Durham
Brent Kitchen

President Barack Obama is searching for a real fix to the country’s jobs problem.  The White House is quick to say some two million private sector jobs have been created in the past 15 months.  But that’s hardly enough to put a dent in the country’s high unemployment rate.  So the president decided to visit a part of the country where he’s been before – a place that has steadily created jobs in the down economy. That place is Cree Incorporated in Durham.

President Barack Obama has been making the rounds across the country looking for ways to help spur economic growth and job creation.  Today he is scheduled to stop in Durham.

Chief Financial Officers are beginning to get nervous again about the economy.  That’s the latest from a quarterly report by Duke University and C-F-O Magazine. 

  Six months ago – C-F-Os were talking about increasing full-time employment by 2-percent over the next year.  Now it’s more like point-seven percent. Kate O’Sullivan is the deputy editor of C-F-O Magazine.  Despite falling optimism, O’Sullivan says things are looking up for people who already have jobs.

A group of African American residents in Brunswick County have taken their claims of environmental injustice to court. 

The Royal Oak community has a history going back to slavery.  Today, there are about 300 African American residents living in this unincorporated section of Brunswick County.  But their community also houses a waste transfer station, a sewage treatment plant, the animal shelter and the county’s only landfill.  Lewis Dozier is president of the Royal Oak Concerned Citizens Association.

North Carolina’s Employment Security Commission is in the process of re-evaluating extended benefits for thousands of residents.  Some jobless residents are getting back payments thanks to an executive order signed by the governor. 

About 47-thousand jobless residents are getting a second look by the E-S-C. That’s after Governor Bev.  Perdue’s executive order, restoring an extended jobless benefits program for the long-term unemployed. Larry Parker is a spokesman for the E-S-C.   He says as soon as they confirm the status of claimants – money is being disbursed right away.

30 Americans at NCMA

May 27, 2011
Hank Willis Thomas, ''Branded Head,'' 2003
Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

  The North Carolina Museum of Art continues to celebrate an exhibit where at least three generations of African American artists boldly explore history, culture and pop culture.  The “30 Americans” exhibit is said to be the largest contemporary African American art exhibit in the country.  All of the pieces in the show come from the Rubell Family of Miami who established their collection in the mid-1960s.  

There is a growing cluster of “Smart Grid” companies that’s putting North Carolina on the map.  

According to a new report out of Duke University – the Triangle has become a “hot spot” for Smart Grid companies because of all the engineering talent in the area.  Smart Grid is the technology that allows energy customers to monitor and control their electricity usage via the internet. Marcy Lowe is lead author of the report Smart Grid: Core Firms in the Research Triangle Region. She says the Smart Grid cluster of nearly 60 companies has surprised a lot of people.

NC Residents Get Older

May 20, 2011

The government continues to roll out new details from the 2010 Census.  Figures released yesterday show North Carolina residents are getting older.

The median age of North Carolinians is 37-point-4 years. Ten years ago – the median age was 35. Bob Coats is the liaison between the Governor’s Office and the Census Bureau.  He explains one of several possible reasons for the age increase.

A major effort is underway to grow North Carolina’s Agricultural Technology Industry. Alexandria Real Estate Equities of California announced yesterday it is building a 50-thousand-square-foot Ag-Tech Center near Research Triangle Park.  More than one-third of the space will be a greenhouse. Amber Shirley is director of Biotechnology-Crops Development at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.  She says Alexandria’s greenhouse space will be flexible and collaborative.

The childhood home of a renowned human rights leader is about to get a major face-lift in southwest Durham.

 Pauli Murray was an attorney, Civil Rights activist and the first African American female Episcopal priest.  The house her grandfather built in the 1890s sits way off Carroll Street in Durham’s West End. Sarah Bingham was one of several people to walk through the two-story house yesterday. She says it’s in pretty good shape.

Sarah Bingham:  "I see possibilities everywhere."

Inge:  "It looks kind of fragile though."

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers is spending the month of May celebrating its 30th Anniversary and its success as a top builder of outlet malls. Shareholders met today in New York for their annual meeting. 

 What better way to celebrate than by ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange. Steven Tanger rang the bell yesterday.  He’s President and C-E-O of Greensboro-based Tanger Factory Outlet Centers.  

Outlet malls have been a big hit with bargain shoppers this millennium. Those following the industry say the up-and-down economy has resulted in leaner shoppers who demand a deal. The Tanger Family of Greensboro gets a lot of credit for developing the concept of brining up-scale retail merchandise to the suburbs, highways and by-ways. And yesterday – Tanger Outlets celebrated its 30th Anniversary at its retail outlets across the country.  

A UNC-Greensboro study shows a major economic impact of small farm ventures funded by the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund. But state budget cuts could end the program.  

  In this tough economy – there are many casualties in the state budget package passed by the house.  One casualty is the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. Joe Schroeder is director of the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund Program – supported by the Tobacco Trust.  He says they have dispersed 3.6 million dollars in the past three years.  But the economic impact was more than 700-million.

Hundreds of technology entrepreneurs and investors are in Raleigh for the C-E-D Venture Conference.  Start-ups are hoping for a break in the down economy.  

 Eric Boggs is the founder and C-E-O of Argyle Social.  His company develops social media marketing software for online retailers, small businesses and agencies so they can better connect with customers on social platforms like Facebook.   Boggs says he can tell the economy is giving way to better days.

Despite all its success – some say Research Triangle Park still hasn’t reached its full potential. So, a major gift has helped create a consortium of partners to help grow jobs and entrepreneurship in the region. 

Shaw University's historic marker propped on the ground after storm.
Leoneda Inge

  Clean-up crews and emergency management teams are working over-time in a 20 county area of the state.  This is where most of the damage occurred after those deadly and destructive tornadoes over the weekend.

In Wake County – officials are already beginning to put a price tag on the cost of the damage. 

Officials in Currituck County announced today they are building a Regional Aviation and Technical Training Center. The area is surrounded by several aviation-type businesses and the U-S Coast Guard in Elizabeth City.  Dan Scanlon is the Currituck County Manager.  He says this is a great opportunity for northeastern North Carolina.

Raising Renee

Apr 15, 2011
Beverly McIver
Leoneda Inge

  Many of us may have made a promise to go home and take care of parents or other family members when they need us the most.  But do we all keep our promise? The new documentary titled – Raising Renee – looks at one such life-changing promise.  The film centers on Durham-based artist Beverly McIver and her sister Renee McIver.  The U.S. premiere ofRaising Renee is today at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham.    

Republican and Democratic leaders are playing hard-ball with the state budget.  And extended unemployment benefits seem to be the latest pawn.

Republicans are tying additional unemployment benefits for 37-thousand people to a provision that would have state government operate at lower funding levels if a budget is not approved by June 30th.  Governor Bev Perdue calls the legislation “extortion.”  House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Thom Tillis:  "Ideally what she’ll do is take seriously our budget proposal which will come to her the first week of June and sign it."

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