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

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:

Pat Green
Pat Green Facebook re-election page

The sheriff of Franklin County abruptly resigned over the weekend.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green has been with the department for more than 25 years.  Green said he was stepping down because of “major health and personal matters.” But Green’s abrupt departure may have a lot to do with a recent request from Franklin County District Attorney Sam Currin. He asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into missing money from the sheriff’s office. No word on how much money. Green was first elected as sheriff in 2006.

Numbers released by the state’s Employment Security Commission shows 2010 as a year of static job growth – but better than 2009.

Numbers released yesterday show the unemployment rate edging up a bit – from 9.6-percent in October – to 9.7-percent in November and 9.8-percent in December.

Larry Parker is a spokesman for the Employment Security Commission.   He says the unemployment rate has increased because a lot more people are looking for work again.  One of the biggest job growth areas for 2010 was in Professional and Business Services:

Triangle Home Sales

Jan 24, 2011

Home sales were down in 2010 in the greater Triangle area.  But the average price of homes went up. 

The federal tax credit for first time home buyers kept housing sales on track for the first two quarters of 2010.  But when the program ended – housing sales took a hit.

Stacey Anfindsen is director of the Triangle Multiple Listing Service.  He says the total number of home sales in the greater Triangle area was 20,643 homes – six-percent behind sales in 2009.  But the average price of homes jumped three-percent.

A new report from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business shows a shortage of skilled workers in the U-S may be one of the main reasons for the off-shoring of American business service jobs.  Arie Lewin is a Duke professor of strategy and international business.  He says American companies in I-T services and software development are not saving money by off-shoring

SAS Celebrates Success

Jan 21, 2011

SAS has a lot to celebrate this week. The software company continues to hire during the tough economy. 

SAS founders and employees enjoyed champagne and sparkling cider at their Cary headquarters yesterday. For the second year in a row – they’ve been ranked number one on Fortune Magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For” list. SAS is also celebrating record revenue for 2010 – 2.43 billion dollars, up 5.2-percent from the year before. John Sall is co-founder and Executive Vice President of SAS.

Martin Luther King Jr.
UNC Librairies

Parades, speeches and community projects fill today’s agenda for many across the state on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

In Raleigh, the Martin Luther King Committee is busy with a prayer breakfast this morning.

And then around 11am, the 31st Annual Martin Luther King Holiday Memorial March.

Foreclosure filings in North Carolina broke a state record last year.

An analysis of 2010 foreclosure filings shows approximately one in 63 housing units in the state faced foreclosure

The North Carolina Justice Center has released a county-by-county look at housing and commercial foreclosure filings.

Jeff Shaw with the Justice Center says numbers show Brunswick, Mecklenburg and Union counties suffered the most. He says the foreclosure problem is a jobs problem.

An Electric Marriage

Jan 10, 2011

A surprising but not shocking marriage was announced in North Carolina today.  Two – well branded utility companies – decided to get hitched. And if regulators approve the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy – the union will form the largest utility company in America.

Duke Energy and Progress Energy officials announced today they are merging their companies. Duke Energy will be the name of the combined company. Its headquarters will be in Charlotte and it will become the largest utility in the country. Progress Energy C-E-O William Johnson will be the new Duke Energy leader. He says the merger is good for North Carolina:

Latest numbers show – the North Carolina unemployment rate has increased in every corner of the state.

Wells Fargo Economist Mark Vitner
NC Chamber of Commerce

National and state economies are expected to improve in 2011 – but by only just a little bit.

Yesterday’s Economic Forecast Forum in Research Triangle Park was about telling the hard truth.  Wells Fargo Senior Economist Mark Vitner:

"We’re still on a path that we’re seeing extremely modest job growth."


Billie Redmond is trying to stay optimistic.   She’s the CEO of Coldwell Banker Commercial Trademark Properties in Raleigh.

More than one thousand people are gathering in Research Triangle Park today to hear the latest news on the 2011 economy. Economists are already saying it should be better than 2010.

  One big draw at this year’s Economic Forecast Forum is outgoing U-N-C president Erskine Bowles – who is also known for serving as co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  Thad Woodard is President and C-E-O of the North Carolina Bankers Association.  He says Economist Mark Vitner of Wells Fargo will give the forecast:

Drive-By Art

Dec 29, 2010

The department of transportation’s Wildflower Project has received much praise over the years. North Carolina DOT officials say they hope their new arts policy for state highways and byways will also get a lot of attention.

Some arts projects already in place include the metal leaves on the pedestrian bridge in Cary spanning US 1-64 and the mural under I-240 in Asheville. 

Don Lee is the State Roadside Environmental Engineer for DOT.  Lee says the new policy will help guide the placement of public art.  He says North Carolina has a good track record:

Time For KWANZAA

Dec 27, 2010

Many folks are taking down their Christmas trees this week – but in some communities, celebrating continues with the African-inspired Kwanzaa.

North Carolina joins other state and local governments in fighting fraud and crime thanks to technology developed at SAS Institute.

Governor Bev Perdue thanked SAS over and over for its expertise in advanced analytics technology.  She says in these tough economic times it saves the government money to be able to improve public safety and reduce fraud.

Perdue says she remembers taking her concerns about Medicaid fraud to SAS:

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