SOT Team

Producer, "The State of Things"
festival poster picturing a stylized image of a man playing the harmonica
Piedmont Blues Preservation Society

For 32 years, the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society has been hosting its Carolina Blues Festival, which it calls the longest running blues festival in the Southeast. Joining host Frank Stasio for a preview of this year’s events is Atiba Berkley the president of the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society. He’ll talk about the preservation society’s commitment to bringing blues to the next generation.

Greensboro will host its first-ever literary festival this weekend. 50 planned events will feature more than 80 writers who are as diverse as the topics they cover, including authors who are undocumented, gender fluid, and from a range of other religious and ethnic backgrounds.

photo of rev. dr. william j. barber II and jonathona wilson-hartgrove
Courtesy of Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove

At an Easter dinner gathering in 2016, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s teenage son and his grandfather began to butt heads. The topic was the upcoming election and then-candidate Donald Trump. While his conservative, Christian grandfather supported the idea of “Making America Great Again,” his black son questioned whether or not his grandfather understood what that meant. In an attempt to reconcile these worlds Wilson-Hartgrove wrote “Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion” (IVP Books/2018).

album cover for the sensational nightingales
Universal Special Products

For more than two decades, Charles Johnson was the lead singer for the Durham-based gospel quartet The Sensational Nightingales. His hit single, “It’s Gonna Rain” spent dozens of weeks on the Billboard gospel charts. The album of the same name reportedly sold one million copies.

headshot of andy fisher
Courtesy of Andy Fisher

When Andy Fisher co-founded the Community Food Security Coalition in 1994, he had a clear goal of advocating for food security. During his 17 years working in conjunction with leaders of the anti-hunger movement, he observed the systems and practices that are holding the movement back.

illustration of playing cards with the words 'this is love'
Illustration by Julienne Alexander

Four years ago when Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer launched the podcast “Criminal,” their desire was to create a show that they controlled. It turned into one of the most beloved podcasts, according to many best-of lists. More importantly, it set a bar that many other crime-themed shows aspire to. A few years in, Judge and Spohrer put their heads together and thought: now, let’s create a podcast for us. Figuring it gets a bad rap, they decided to chose love as the topic for their next creative endeavor.

headshot of denise kiernan
Treadshots

When the documentary “The Queen of Versailles” was released in 2012, it bragged that the film was following a couple building the largest home in America – 90,000 square feet. Author and journalist Denise Kiernan balked at that notion remembering a childhood trip to Asheville’s Biltmore Estate. At over 170,000 square feet, George Vanderbilt’s home is still the biggest in the country. Fresh off of her New York Times best-seller “The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II” (Touchstone/2013), Kiernan was looking for her next book idea.

black and white photo of jackson and best singing together
Courtesy of A Different Thread

Alicia Best and Robert Jackson met busking on the streets of Ireland. Jackson mistook Best’s ukulele for a fiddle, but what happened next was the spark that created their musical collaboration. The two sang a little ditty called “Yellow Taxi” and quickly knew they were destined to collaborate.

text of the sign: 'Freedom Hill: Community established here by freed blacks in 1865. Incorporated as Princeville in 1885.'
ncdcr.gov

The concept began with eight mayors from historically black towns who joined academics to preserve history, problem solve and build for the future. The 2015 project was so successful, it has expanded into the multidisciplinary Black Communities conference. Hosted by the Institute for African American Research and NCGrowth, organizer Karla Slocum is professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Institute of African American Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and organizer Mark Little is Director of NCGrowth and Executive Director at UNC Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise.

book cover for 'dreams that can save your life,' picturing a dreaming woman and a hooded monk in the background
Findhorn Press

Dr. Larry Burk has spent much of his life practicing traditional medicine as a radiologist. But his search for solutions to his patients’ problems led him on an unexpected journey outside of traditional medicine. A graduate of Duke University, Burk co-founded the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine. He is certified in acupuncture, hypnosis, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and is committed to holistic medicine.

many small photos of plastic objects such as a pizza table or small bag, each photographed next to a ruler
Robin Frohardt

Mandatory recycling is law in some places around the United States, which makes people feel comfortable about their part in saving the planet. But what happens to single-use plastics, like take out containers, grocery bags, and Starbucks cup caps? They end up in the oceans, among other places.

To honor Frederick Douglass’ 200th birthday, the nonprofit Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives set forth to print and distribute one million copies of Douglass’ historic slave narrative. They initially had no idea how they would generate public interest. Then Donald Trump was quoted saying, “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.”  Suddenly Ken Morris, a descendant of Douglass and co-founder of the nonprofit, was fielding non-stop calls from the press, and his history lesson for the president went viral.

photo of Chris Hickman conversing with other officers, johnnie rush is handcuffed in the background
City of Asheville

Asheville resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush was walking home from work on Aug. 24, 2017 when he was stopped by police for jaywalking. Rush felt he was being harassed and ran away to avoid arrest. Bodycam video of the incident was leaked to the Asheville Citizen Times in February 2018, and it went viral. 

photo of John Hedley holding his book Saddle Up.
John Hedley

On his desk sits a bumper sticker that reads “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” For John Hedley this statement is personal, not political. He vividly remembers coming home from Vietnam to angry crowds who branded him and his fellow service members “potheads, murderers and nutjobs.” His solution? Showing first-hand support for the next generation of soldiers.

Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis shake hands after the debate at UNC-TV Wednesday night.
Mike Oniffrey / UNC-TV

Facebook’s stock plummeted at the news that 50 million user accounts had been breached and used to create profiles of prospective voters. Since then the company behind the breach, Cambridge Analytica, has been suspended from Facebook. The damage in North Carolina has already been done.

Zainab Antepli, a junior at Chapel Hill High School, calls for tougher gun laws in front of a large crowd at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Since the mass school shooting in Columbine, America has seemed almost powerless against rogue gunmen attacking defenseless suburban schools. After the tragic killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, many declared that if America did not make changes after Newtown it never would. 

photo of krish mohan
Courtesy of Krish Mohan

Krish Mohan has been a comedian since his teenage years when he won a talent contest at high school. Looking for a way to finetune his craft, he wound up at a local club practicing his jokes between sets for rock bands. His early humor revolved around being from an immigrant family who moved from India to Pittsburgh when he was just 8 years old. 

photo of duke chapel
Wikimedia Commons

In 2014, the LGBTQ community rallied around students at Duke Divinity School after former Dean Richard Hays warned incoming students that under the rules of the United Methodist Church openly gay individuals would not be ordained and gay marriage is not accepted. Though Dean Hays is long gone, some students continue to voice discontent. During the state-of-the-school speech last month, Dean Elaine Heath was interrupted by LGBTQ students carrying bullhorns and chanting “I am somebody, and I won’t be stopped by nobody.”

photo of JoAnne Smart Drane and Bettye Ann Davis Tillman
UNCG

Before the University of North Carolina at Greensboro was a thriving liberal arts school filled with rich and diverse voices, it was Woman’s College. When JoAnne Drane stepped foot on the campus in 1956, the school was one of the largest women’s colleges in the country, but it was far from diverse. In fact, she was one of the first two black students.

A nurse performs her work at a community health clinic.
Sabin Institute / Flickr/Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/ooK2xw

 

As the Trump administration continues to chip away at Obamacare, many public health practitioners are left wondering how the changes will affect their clients. The statewide sexual health non-profit Shift NC has voiced particular concerns about how the administration’s policies could affect underserved teens and adolescents.

picture of Sheriff Sam Page
N.C. Sheriff's Association

There have been more than 10 school shootings in the country so far this year.  As the gun debate rages on Capitol Hill, students around the country have taken things into their own hands staging walkouts and protests.

photo of Brian Southwell
Courtesy of Brian Southwell

How long does it take the brain to input information and process it as fact or fiction? Not long, according to Brian Southwell. He is a researcher at RTI International and co-editor of the book “Misinformation and Mass Audiences” (University of Texas Press/2018) who looks at the science and psychology behind "fake news.” 

photo of four men in the woodsy sculpture from duke gardens
Kevin Clark

For more than a decade, John Harrison was the frontman for the indie-rock band North Elementary. He has since left that gig to work solo, which he says gives him more flexibility and creative freedom. 

Donald van der Vaart
DENR

Donald van der Vaart was North Carolina’s top environmental official under former Gov. Pat McCrory.  When Gov. Roy Cooper took office, Van der Vaart demoted himself and was later placed on suspension after writing a controversial opinion piece in an environmental law journal. However, he recently reemerged as a candidate for President Trump's Council on Environmental Quality.

picture of Billy Graham
By Warren K. Leffler / U.S. News and World Reports

In the late ‘40s, Billy Graham’s crusades filled tents, and his showmanship quickly evolved into what would become televangelism. Graham earned the title “America’s Pastor,” and his sermons reached countless millions in close to 200 countries.

Amanda Magnus

When Juana Ortega walked into St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro last Spring, she was seeking sanctuary from deportation. But she may have also inspired a movement.

photo of Victor Lawe dressed as  the black panther in the studio with host Frank Stasio
Dana Terry

Weeks before the release of "Black Panther," presale tickets were on course to outsell all other superhero movies. It was one of the most tweeted about movies of 2017, despite not having a release date until February of this year.  Host Frank Stasio takes a look at the buzz behind the movie with comic book aficionados and scholars.

Photo of 'Black Beach/White Beach' logo.
Southern Documentary Fund

Each Memorial Day weekend hundreds of thousands of African-American motorcyclists gather at Myrtle Beach for what is affectionately called “Black Bike Week.” The event brings in more than $40 million to the greater Myrtle Beach area.

Photo of Rolonda Watts.
Courtesy of Rolonda Watts

Rolonda Watts began her career as a reporter for WFMY News in Greensboro, North Carolina. She moved on from there to New York City, where she is remembered as the local news anchor during the “Today” show.

N.C. Department of Transportation
Dave DeWitt

The North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation last summer aimed at preventing violence during police stops.  House Bill 21 instructed that the Department of Motor Vehicles update the driver’s license handbook to include updated guidelines for behavior during a police stop.

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