Phoebe Judge Interviews

Photo: Mark Martin
Mark Martin

 North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin has never hidden the fact that he is unhappy with the state of the court system in North Carolina. Chief Justice Martin is an outspoken critic of how budget constraints have negatively affected the courts.

Martin says one of the main issues plaguing the courts in antiquated technology, "The people of North Carolina- they shop online, they interact with myriad business, but when it comes to the court, we are hopelessly behind."

Bob Jones, leader of the N.C. KKK, April 1965
Bruce Roberts / The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

At one time North Carolina had more Ku Klux Klan members than all other the states combined, even though the state was seen as more racial progressive than others in the South.

The PBS documentary series American Experience explores this idea with its latest episode, Klansville U.S.A.

Callie Wiser is the film's director. She talked with Phoebe Judge about the rise and fall of the KKK in North Carolina:

Interview highlights:

Clemon H. Terrell enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1950 as a steward. He would make the officers' beds and shine their shoes, among other duties. Due to segregation, there were limited opportunities for advancement. This week, 34 years following his retirement from the service, Terrell was promoted to honorary Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer.
 

"I was ecstatic. Being promoted to Chief Petty Officer is a prestigious promotion," he said, adding that the the Chief Petty Officer has the respect of everyone "from the Admiral on down."

The bank robber is described as a light-skinned black male, approximately 20-35 years of age with a medium build.
FBI

The Charlotte Division of the FBI has been on the lookout for a bank robber who has operated in Wake, Nash, and Franklin Counties. The suspect is known as the "Eyes Only Bandit" because in each case, the robber wore a hooded jacket and gloves and covered his face with a mask, leaving only his eyes visible.

The "Eyes Only Bandit" struck these banks:

Duke University via Duke Today

This weekend there is a series of performances of Handel's Messiah at Duke Chapel in Durham, N.C. The tradition has been going on for 81 years. This year the performance will be recorded live and broadcast throughout the state and the world.

Dr. Rodney Wynkoop is the Director of Chapel Music at Duke University. He says that the text of the Messiah tells the entire story of the redemption of the world.

Ruins in Charleston, S.C., from the album Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign
George N. Barnard / David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Duke University recently acquired two stunning sets of photographs of the Civil War. Now, Duke Performances has commissioned a leading guitarist to set the images to music. The result is an intimate perspective on the cost of war.

Criminal's episode art is by Julienne Alexander
Julienne Alexander

Criminal is a new podcast that's gaining some buzz. In August, the Huffington Post called it the Best New Radio Show In America. A couple of months later, it was included in Buzzfeed's list of "12 Podcasts That Will Make You A Better Human."

Sean Haugh, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, 2014
Carol Jackson

Next week voters across North Carolina will decide the next U.S. Senator from North Carolina.  Latest polls show the race basically tied between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, and Republican State Speaker of the House Thom Tillis. 

Hagan and Tillis have both called on political celebrities in this, the final full week of the campaign.

This is the Unity Monument at Bennett Place. The vulnerable tract of land is across the street from this monument.
NC Department of Cultural Resources

Update 10/23/14:

North Carolina has raised the more than $300,000 needed to protect land near Bennett Place Historic Site in Durham. The site witnessed the largest Confederate troop surrender of the Civil War.

The money will be used to buy 1.9 acres located near Bennett Place and the "Unity Monument" which symbolically marks the reunification of the country.

The state received two grants of $150,000 each. $13,000 more came in through smaller donations.

Original story:

The world renowned performance artist Taylor Mac is in North Carolina this week with the show 1910s - A 24 Decade History of Popular Music.  The performance is part of a larger project that involves 24 separate performances, each based on a single decade since 1770.

Mac says the 1910s were a critical decade of change in the history of America.

September 2, 2014, Leon Brown on exoneration day.
Jenny Warburg / Death Penalty Information Center

In 1984 Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were both charged with the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, Sabrina Buoy. 

McCollum was 19 years old at the time. Brown was 15. Prosecutors said that the two took Buoy into a soy bean field to rape her.

The half-brothers have intellectual disabilities. Both signed written confessions that they later recanted. Both were convicted.

A champion tiger shark at a fish rodeo in 1988
Joel Fodrie / UNC IMS

Over the past 30 years, the size of sharks in the Gulf of Mexico has been shrinking. Drastically. Some sharks are 70 percent smaller.

The findings come from the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Sciences.

Researchers came up with a novel way of gathering the historical data. While there wasn't any academic database that collected such information, local newspapers in the Gulf region have been publishing the results of fishing competitions for years.

Larry Hester, at the WUNC studios, September 2014.
Eric Mennel

Larry Hester lost his sight at age 33. Last week, 66-year-old Hester had a computer chip inserted into his left eyeball which may help him gain some ability to better navigate his life.

The six-hour surgery – the first in North Carolina – was performed by Dr. Paul Hahn at the Duke Eye Center. 

When the device is turned on, Hester will wear a pair of glasses rigged with a camera. The glasses will be attached by wire to a computerized device that Hester will wear on his belt. 

Alison Moyer poses with Dreadnoughtus' neck bone, which she uncovered.
Alison Moyer

Last week, researchers revealed one of the biggest discoveries ever in the dinosaur world. "Dreadnoughtus" is 85 feet long, two stories tall, and as big as a jumbo jet. It's estimated to weigh as much as seven T. rex dinosaurs put together, and experts believe it was not yet fully grown when it died. Alison Moyer spent several months on her knees in southern Argentina using picks, dust brushes, and tweezers to uncover parts of Dreadnoughtus' skeleton. Moyer is a Ph.D candidate at N.C. State University. This was her first dig.

What was your role?

Cast of 'The Womanless Wedding', 1890 Trinity College Drama Group
Duke University Archives

"Stranger than Fiction: True Stories Found in NCpedia" is a special event which will be held Saturday September 13 at the North Carolina Museum of History. A panel of experts will share lesser-known stories from North Carolina's history.

Here are five such stories from NCpedia, the online encyclopedia of all things North Carolina:

1. There's a tradition in the state for men to get dressed up and hold 'Womanless Weddings'

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