Next Generation Radio

Jessica Allen / NextGen Radio

Juana Mikels still remembers the day she discovered her daughter’s talent for singing. Mary was 7 years old and heard the soundtrack to “The Sound of Music” for the first time.

“I could hear this voice booming out of the room. I had to open the door because I could not tell if it was Julie Andrews or if it was Mary,” Juana says. “And it was Mary.”

Now, Mary Mikels is 20 years old and wants to be the next Blind Idol.

“It could open up some doors that I might not be expecting and it could turn my whole life around,” Mary says.

 

The phone rings for the the fourth or fifth time in so many minutes inside a soul food joint in Durham, North Carolina. The place looks more like an accountant’s office than a restaurant.

“Chicken Hut,” answers matriarch Peggy Tapp. “Yes ma’am, we are.”

The Chicken Hut has opened and closed locations and faced family tragedies. The city even built a freeway through it. But they serve the same chicken they have been dishing up since they opened in the 1950s.

Emily Yue / NextGen Radio

  Eva Panjwani and Qasima “Q” Wideman maneuver around each other in the kitchen of their east Durham home on a Tuesday afternoon.

The smell of curry permeates the air. A string of gold paper letters spells out “Ramadan Kareem” across a bookshelf. They are observing one of the pillars of their Islamic faith. Panjwani cuts vegetables and Wideman stirs other ingredients into a simmering pot.

“How many types of garlic does one couple have?” asks Panjwani as she opens the refrigerator door.

Of all the tributes that Farris Barakat has seen for his three slain family members, one of his favorites is a wooden plaque that bears their silhouettes and the American flag.

Barakat’s brother Deah, along with Deah’s wife Yusor Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, were fatally shot in February, 2015 in their Chapel Hill condominium. A neighbor is awaiting trial for three counts of first-degree murder.

Many people around the world called it a hate crime against Muslims, though police have not officially declared it one.