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

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."

Full Frame Opens

Apr 14, 2011

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival kicks off today in downtown Durham.  There are more than 100 screenings for enthusiasts to see.

Two Sundance Film Festival winners will be shown – How to Die in Oregon and Hell and Back Again about a soldier’s return home from Afghanistan. Sadie Tillery is director of programming at Full Frame. She says all levels of talent and experience make the festival.

Every corner of the state is experiencing a decline in its unemployment rate.  The largest decline was in Graham County.

The state’s extended benefits program for the long-term unemployed is about to end. About 37-thousand people will lose their benefits.

The Super Bowl of the home furnishings industry gets under way this weekend in High Point. For the next week – High Point can expect some 80-thousand visitors.  The High Point Market is the largest home furnishings industry trade show in the world.  Buyers, leading retailers, journalists and analysts come from 110 countries to check out the latest styles.

Brian Casey is president and CEO of the High Point Market Authority. He says they can tell the economy is getting better:

Slim Jim
Wikimedia Commons

The town of Garner in Wake County is preparing to lose its largest employer, ConAgra Foods.  The company employed about 600 people in its Slim Jim plant there until the summer of 2009 when a fatal natural gas explosion killed four works and injured 67. But instead of rebuilding the plant where the explosion took place, ConAgra announced last year that it would be cheaper to close its Garner plant and move its operation to Ohio.

No More Dillard's BBQ

Mar 17, 2011

The owners of Dillard’s Bar-B-Que in Durham have announced – “its season is up.” The long-time family restaurant will close Friday.


The cafeteria-style line to get food at Dillard’s Bar-B-Que has been a place to catch up with friends and to get a home-cooked hot meal. And Bar-B-Que makes up just a small part of the menu – which also includes fried fish, smothered chicken, an assortment of greens and more.  But Wilma Dillard says the business has run its course:

"We just closing it down.  We just closing it down."

Some of the top innovative thinkers in the country will gather this morning at U-N-C Chapel Hill. The Obama Administration chose this spot to kick-off a series of public forums on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

Crook's Shrimp & Grits
Leoneda Inge

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the “food scene” in the Triangle went from good to great! But we’re there now and the rest of the country is taking note. Some of the most prestigious awards for restaurants and chefs come from the James Beard Foundation in New York. The tops in the food world will soon celebrate their James Beard Awards in “Oscars-like” style.  And that will include the crew at Crook’s Corner restaurant in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina’s jobless rate inched up a bit during the month of January. The latest numbers were released today.

North Carolina’s Commissioner of Agriculture is in China this week. This is the second trip to that country since 2009. 

Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler doesn’t necessarily like the long air plane trip to China.   But he says it’s worth it.  Troxler says after the 2009 trade mission – China increased its purchase of North Carolina tobacco by close to 40-percent.  Sales of soybeans and cotton also increased.

The 2010 Census numbers are out for North Carolina.  It’s no surprise – we’re still growing. There are now 9-point-5 million people living in the state – an increase of 18-point-5-percent. Metropolitan areas including Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Wilmington witnessed tremendous growth this past decade.  Experts say the latest numbers show North Carolina is becoming increasingly more urban and metropolitan. 

Durham-area business owners got the chance to have some face-time with the head of the U-S Minority Business Development Agency.

Robin Costello is a Vice President at Piedmont Investment Advisors. The company is 10 years old managing three-and-a-half billion dollars in investments.

Robin Costello:  "The corporate."

David Hinson:  "We’re working on it."

Robin Costello:  "It’s hard."

The Raleigh Convention Center will be packed today and tomorrow for the annual CED Biotech Life Science Conference.  .

The economy is showing signs of improvement – and organizers of the annual Biotech Conference say that’s good for the life sciences. More than one thousand people are expected to attend – emerging biotech companies, policymakers and venture capitalists – looking for the next big thing. Bill Wofford – a partner at Hutchinson Law Group is a conference co-chair.  He says in a promotional video, there will be a lot of partnering going on.

The Triangle will be hit especially hard when Borders Books closes several of its stores.


By April – the Borders Group will close about 30-percent of what the company calls its under-performing stores.  Borders’ reorganization plan was reveled yesterday when owners announced they are filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Eric Hodge:  An audience at Wake Forest University was among the first to hear parts of Martin Luther King Junior’s “I Have a Dream” speech. King delivered the address 10 months before the historic speech in Washington, DC.   Inge reports.

On October 11, 1962 – Martin Luther King Junior spoke at Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University.

" This will be the day when all of God’s children, black men and white men…"

Pauli Murray mural in downtown Durham
Face Up Project, Center for Documentary Studie

There are murals of a woman in downtown Durham who was obscure to the population until just about a year ago. Her name is Pauli Murray. Murray was raised in Durham and went on to become a civil rights leader, co-founder of the National Organization for Women and the first African American woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest. Durham residents have been celebrating the 100th anniversary of Murray’s birth. There is a Pauli Murray Project at Duke University named for her and even a play in her honor. 

U.S. Chemical Safety Board

The deadly explosion at the Con-Agra Foods plant near Garner has resulted in a safety video to help prevent future tragedies. 

The video was produced by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. It’s called “Deadly Practices” and begins like this.

Researchers and business experts in developing countries are meeting at UNC Chapel Hill to discuss one of the newest models to help move people out of poverty.

This new business model is called micro-franchising.   It’s different from micro-enterprises which involve small amounts of seed money to help a poor person become an entrepreneur. Jason Fairborne is the author of Micro-Franchising – Creating Wealth at the Bottom of the Pyramid.  He says micro-franchising can help more people:

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