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

 John Hope Franklin
Duke Performances

Renown historian John Hope Franklin would be 100-years-old if he were alive today.  Duke University is celebrating his legacy with the symposium, “Global Slaveries, Impossible Freedoms–The Intellectual Legacies of John Hope Franklin.”

Perils And Promise, Vance County Schools, Fire Academy
Leoneda Inge

Rural communities across North Carolina have been working hard to re-build their economies and prepare a future workforce.

In Vance County, the public school district has two career academies in place to provide professional development for students and help them focus early on a career.  Plus, academies have been proven to help with student attendance and dropout rates.

Food Bank, Food Lion
Leoneda Inge

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina will soon be able to deliver food to the needy with its new mobile food pantry.

Food Lion donated the truck.  President Meg Ham says many families in need don’t have the transportation to get to a food distribution center.

Vance County Schools, Rural Schools
Leoneda Inge

Western Vance High School near Henderson is not your traditional high school.  It’s a “second chance” school for students who could not find success at their home school.  That means they likely were not going to graduate.  And in these times, that also means it would be extremely hard to find a job.

In our series, Perils and Promise:  Educating North Carolina’s Rural Students, we talk with students at Western Vance as they move closer to getting a diploma.

Rural Schools, Vance County Schools, Western Vance
Leoneda Inge

Rural counties across the state are not experiencing the economic recovery underway in the Triangle, Triad or in the Charlotte Mecklenburg region.  The unemployment rate is higher, the poverty rate is higher and the high school drop-out rate is higher.

RTP, Research Triangle Foundation
Leoneda Inge

The head of the Research Triangle Foundation announced Thursday they’ve raised enough money to move forward with a major, more urban redevelopment project in Research Triangle Park.

The Research Triangle Foundation has secured $50 million to begin breaking ground on Park Center.  The plan is for this 100-acre property to include two hotels, housing, restaurants and entertainment.


Early voting is underway in many local elections.  And yesterday was proclaimed “National Voter Registration Day” by the White House.

Civil rights activists and scholars applaud such efforts, saying one of the most pressing issues still facing African Americans in the south is access to the polls. 

InnovateNC, Institute for Emerging Issues, Wilmington
NC State

A new initiative to help spark innovation across the state will focus on five cities.  The announcement was made Friday at NC State's Hunt Library.

“Next up we have Greensboro!  Come on up Greensboro!” shouted Christopher Gergan, CEO of Forward Impact.

Gergan helped make the "InnovateNC" announcement.

Jean Christian Barry, Graduate, College, Black Male
Leoneda Inge

Thousands of college freshmen have been settling in to their dorm rooms and classrooms across the state this week.  The drop-off can be especially emotional for parents sending their first child off into the world. 

I have been planning and dreaming of this day since my sons's birth.  But as all parents find out, plans don’t always come out as you expect.

It seems like Jean Christian Barry has been washing clothes, towels and sheets for weeks. Every time I turn around, he’s folding or packing something.

Kenan Flagler Blog

It’s been a tough job market for the young worker since the last recession and economic downturn.  Many in that under-35 age group have been squeezed out for lack of experience or credentials.

But a growing number of companies are seeing the benefits of hiring Millennial workers.  Two North Carolina companies in the Triangle stand out.

It’s hard to keep up with all the “best places to work” lists that include analytics software giant SAS.

Fayetteville State University, Nursing Program, FSU
Fayetteville State University

North Carolina has more nursing schools and programs than most states its size.  So when Fayetteville State University suspended its Bachelor’s Degree nursing program in 2009, it was a big deal for the state and the school.

Today, the nursing program is open and admitting students.  In fact, the first class of graduates have all passed their national board exam.

There's a radio ad playing on Fayetteville's commercial stations.

A teenager locking down a summer job as a lifeguard used to be a big deal.

But this summer, several parks and recreation departments and YMCA's across the country are reporting a shortage of lifeguards. And an improving economy may be playing a big role.

The Ridge Road swimming pool in Raleigh, N.C. is packed. There are easily 200 people here competing in a swim meet, some of them as young as 5 years old.

Minimum Wage, Home Care Workers
Leoneda Inge

From California to New York, a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour is becoming more of a reality.  Durham workers rallied Thursday in support.

Most of the people rallying outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Downtown Durham were longtime home care and child care workers, like Tolanda Barnette.   Barnette says after more than a decade of working in child care in North Carolina, she still only makes $10 an hour.

“We do the hardest and the most work in the child care center and we are the least and most underpaid," said Barnette.

Produce, Shopping, Grocery Stores

A new study out of Duke University shows people shopping with reusable bags often make surprising choices.

Bryan Bollinger is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. He says they examined the habits of close to 900 families who shopped at a California supermarket. Bollinger says here’s what happened if they shopped with their own, reusable bag.

Lucille Ervin, Durham, St. Mark AME Zion
Leoneda Inge

There was a special birthday celebration for one of Durham’s long-time residents Tuesday.

Lucille Ervin turned 108 years old.  About 30 people gathered on the lawn of St. Mark AME Zion Church to wish her well and sing "Happy Birthday".

Ervin moved to North Carolina from South Carolina 80 years ago.  And she’s been here ever since.  She was born in Charleston and raised by an Aunt and Uncle who lived on land handed down by their slave owners, according to Dorothy Fuller, Ervin's cousin.

Durham Art, Mariott City Center, Durham Sculpture
Leoneda Inge

Durham community leaders, artists and residents are working to make sure downtown remains people-friendly as it grows.

After a year of getting to know Durhamites, award-winning Landscape Architect and Environmental Artist Mikyoung Kim presented an art infused vision plan for downtown Durham.  Kim’s job was to connect the corridor between the Old Durham Bulls Ballpark and the new one.

Google Fiber, Google, Internet Construction
Google Fiber

Folks in the Triangle cheered when Google announced it was bringing ultra-high-speed internet and TV service to the area.  Google officials say now it’s time for patience as they start digging up and building new infrastructure to accommodate the technology.

A lot of lobbying and planning went into the Triangle and Charlotte being chosen for Google Fiber, which can deliver data 100 times faster than your basic Internet service.

Governor Pat McCrory was one of the biggest cheerleaders at the announcement five months ago.

Deborah Woodward, St. Paul AME Church, Piano, Vigil
Leoneda Inge

Hundreds of people of multiple colors and creeds filled St. Paul AME Church in Chapel Hill Friday.  It was a vigil to remember the slain members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Vivian Howard, Cynthia Hill, A Chef's Life
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

Kinston is the heart of Lenoir County in eastern North Carolina.  Longtime residents say it was heart-breaking to see their hometown fall apart as traditional industries like textiles and tobacco disappeared.  But during the past decade a new, more diverse economic landscape has developed. 

One person who is getting a lot of credit for helping to transform her hometown of  Kinston is Chef Vivian Howard.

Nothing brings Kinston residents together like the annual BBQ Festival on the Neuse.

Colored Troops
Leoneda Inge

Events commemorating the 150th Anniversary marking the end of the Civil War are wrapping up across the south.  It is noticeable that most of the visitors attending these events are white.

But organizers at the Stagville State Historic Site in Durham made sure their event over the weekend would be more diverse.  They say “Freedom 150” focused on the lives of the former slaves once the Civil War came to an end.

An image of the Stagville barn

Events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War are wrapping up. Organizers will mark the freedom of hundreds of slaves after the war Saturday, May 30, at the Stagville Historic site in Durham.

The event is called “Freedom 150.”  Jerome Bias sits on the Historic Stagville Foundation Board.  He says they are trying to make sure slavery is not forgotten.

Charles Hayes, RTRP
Research Triangle Regional Partnership

The Research Triangle Regional Partnership is celebrating twenty-five years of marketing and growing the economic base of the region.

Charles Hayes heads the Research Triangle Regional Partnership and remembers when the group’s economic development focus was in three counties.

“UNC Chapel Hill, Duke and NC State University and the cities they were in," said Hayes.

Collage Dance Company
Jerri Dorsey-Hall

The Collage Dance Company has wowed audiences for decades with its authentic African costumes, precise foot-work and exquisite drumming.  And some of the performers are as young as ten years old!

Tonight, the Durham-based company is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary with a performance at the Carolina Theatre featuring more than one generation on stage.

Light Emitting Diodes
Mike Deal / Flickr

Durham-based Cree, known for its LED lighting, is spinning off another company.

Cree is calling the new business group the Cree Power and Radio Frequency Division.

Sharon Belenzon is an Associate Professor of Strategy at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.  Belenzon says he was not surprised by the news.

“So this legal separation in many, many cases creates huge value when you have divisions which have high growth opportunities and divisions which have low growth opportunities," said Belenzon.

Wake Tech, Co-Curricular Transcripts
Melody Wiggins

Community college graduates at Wake Tech can now get a second transcript to show off their leadership, volunteerism and sports skills.

Wake Tech is the first community college in the state to offer Co-Curricular Transcripts or CCTs.

And Glenn Strumke is the first Wake Tech student to take advantage of the additional transcript that could help in a job search or school search.