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

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."

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.

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