SOT Meet Series

http://wunc.drupal.publicbroadcasting.net/programs/state-things

Courtesy of Stephanie Elizondo Griest

Stephanie Elizondo Griest grew up between two cultural identities: her father is white from Kansas, and her mother is Chicana, or Mexican-American.

Courtesy Raymond Barfield

For most of his life, Raymond Barfield was a person of faith. He grew up in the church and maintained his faith right up to his early years as a physician. But his time working as a pediatric oncologist pushed him to the limits of his emotional and spiritual capacity.

Drawing of Donald Trump scrambling to charge his phone and continue tweeting.
Dwane Powell, The News and Observer

There was nothing in Dwane Powell’s upbringing to suggest he would end up a political cartoonist. 

L.A. McCrae holding a glass of her beer
Courtesy of L.A. McCrae

For L.A. McCrae, beer is a ministry. She owns Black Star Line Brewing Company – the first black-owned brewery in Western North Carolina. 

Courtesy of Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi was born with nystagmus, a visual condition where the eyes are constantly in spasm. It took Calvocoressi a while to learn how to walk and balance, so the young child spent a lot of time sitting on the floor, daydreaming and observing the world. 

Laura Pellicer / WUNC

Sijal Nasralla grew up hearing stories about the bucolic hills his father used to roam as a shepherd in Palestine. He also learned early on about efforts his family members had made to preserve access to land they had lived on for hundreds of years.

John Carroll Whitener
Courtesy of John Carroll Whitener

 John Carroll Whitener could have easily avoided being drafted into the Vietnam War. He could have truthfully checked the box marked “yes” on the military form that asked new recruits if they had homosexual tendencies. But doing so would have meant admitting a truth he was not ready to accept and facing the consequences of a future that did not include his family and church.

Music Maker Relief Foundation

Ron Hunter was born and raised in a log cabin on a sharecropping farm in the countryside near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As a kid he wanted to be a cowboy. He often donned a cowboy hat and practiced country-western songs while riding a make-believe horse. Later in life Hunter found a deep connection with the stories he can tell through the blues, and he gained recognition for his unique style.

Courtesy of Kumarini Silva

 Kumarini Silva grew up in the midst of a violent civil war in Colombo, Sri Lanka between the government and rebel groups. She was mostly sheltered from the violence because of her father’s status as a U.N. diplomat, but her family still helped those they knew were in danger. They moved to Liberia when Silva was a teenager but had to leave after a few years after a violent conflict erupted inside the country.

Courtesy Western Carolina University

Davy Arch grew up on a subsistence farm in western North Carolina. As a boy, he learned the value of traditional Cherokee culture from his grandfather, who taught him the old stories, how to hunt and fish, and how to identify valuable medicinal plants.

Today Arch is a practitioner of traditional medicine, a historian, storyteller and a folk artist with work on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
 

Katie Wyatt poses with children from the program she co-founded, Kidznotes.
Ken Demery Photography

Katie Wyatt first fell in in love with classical music when she joined her school’s orchestra in third grade. Wyatt played the viola and appreciated being part of a group that created art together. Wyatt was a military kid, so her family moved around about every four years. But no matter where she lived, Wyatt found a way to plug into her community through music. 

Jocelyn Casanova
Courtesy of Jocelyn Casanova

Joceyln Casanova grew up in North Carolina and was a high achiever who dreamed of going to college and becoming a lawyer. A few days before she graduated from high school near the top of her class, a college interviewer revealed a secret her parents had kept from her her whole life: Jocelyn was undocumented. 

Duke University

Makeba Wilbourn has been immersed in the subtleties of language since she was a child.

As the daughter of a northern white mother and southern black father, she constantly changed the way she spoke to her own family. And as she grew older, she realized she had to be an expert at code-switching in order to succeed as a biracial woman.

Today, Makeba studies how children develop those differences in language, and how that might contribute to our racial biases.

Ray Williams
Elizabeth Eason / Ray Williams

As a teenager in England in the 1960s, Ray Williams soaked up the sounds of one of British pop’s most iconic eras. After spending years listening to popular music, he got a front-row seat to it all when he landed a job working for Cathy McGowan, presenter of the music television show “Ready Steady Go!”

Laura Pellicer

For close to two decades, Richard Joyner fought to get away from the farms of Pitt County, North Carolina. He grew up in a family of sharecroppers and repeatedly witnessed racial and economic injustices. His family was never properly compensated for their labor, and his father was treated poorly by white land owners.

Later in his life, Joyner became the pastor for the small 300-person community of Conetoe, North Carolina. Within one year, 30 of his congregants died from health-related illnesses. He decided to return to farming to grow healthy food for his community.

UNC Asheville

Growing up in South Los Angeles, Dwight Mullen remembers constant tension between the community and police. He specifically recalls the 1965 Watts riots and the impact it had on the city.

Photo of Reverend Mykal Slack
Courtesy Mykal Slack

Mykal Slack grew up in rural Georgia in an enormous extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. He was raised as a girl — the sex on his birth certificate — but from a young age he remembers crafting imaginary worlds in which he had a boy’s name.

Profile photo of Wendell Tabb outside WUNC Durham studios.
Courtesy Wendell Tabb

Wendell Tabb spent much of his life training for a career as a stage actor. So when an opportunity arose to teach drama at Hillside High School in Durham, he thought the gig would be a detour on his life journey.

Image of scholar William (Sandy) Darity
Duke University Sanford School School of Public Policy

Why are some people rich and others poor? Answering this elusive question has been the lifelong work of economist William (Sandy) Darity. Darity was an observant child, and from an early age he picked up on how wealth disparities divide communities. 

An image of the gospel singer Mary D. Williams
Charlie Shelton-Ormond / WUNC

When Mary D. Williams was a kid growing up in Garner, North Carolina, she often visited her grandparents in Johnston County. She remembers passing a sign that said, “You are in the heart of Klan country” along the way. The sign was a visible example of the racism her grandparents endured in rural North Carolina.

Photo of Becky Holmes
Becky Holmes

 

Becky Holmes grew up eating the bread and processed foods her family could get from food pantries. They struggled with obesity, mental illness and other ailments that made Becky realize what you eat matters. She vowed to break the cycle of poverty and be the one to give back.  


Image of Lisa Hightown-Weidman and her family
Courtesy of Lisa Hightow-Weidman

Lisa Hightow-Weidman grew up with her nose always in a book. She majored in English in college and had aspirations of becoming a writer.

rapper 9th wonder on a stool
Creative Silence

Patrick Douthit has been making music as hip-hop producer 9th Wonder for nearly two decades. In the early 2000s Douthit gained recognition for his work with the North Carolina hip-hop group Little Brother. He went on to produce music for Jay-Z’s 2003 release “The Black Album” and Destiny’s Child’s 2004 album “Destiny Fulfilled.” He won a Grammy for his work on Mary J. Blige’s 2005 album “The Breakthrough.” Douthit grew up in Winston-Salem and remembers hearing his first hip-hop song in 1982 with Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock.” 

AFRICAN AMERICAN DANCE ENSEMBLE, INC.

Acclaimed dancer and choreographer Chuck Davis died earlier this month at the age of 80. Davis was considered America’s master of African dance. He formed the Chuck Davis Dance Company in New York in the 1960s and later built the African American Dance Ensemble in Durham.

Justin Ashley

Justin Ashley was a star teacher at McAlpine Elementary School in Charlotte. In 2013 he won state awards naming him “Teacher of the Year” in history and social studies. But his personal life was falling apart. Ashley says he had $100 in his bank account and a worsening prescription drug addiction.

McGuire's Miracle The Documentary

Alexander Julian is credited with the iconic revamp of Tar Heel sports uniforms. But his journey to creating the legendary Carolina blue argyle was a long time in the making. Julian drew up his first designs when he was a child, and he started working the sales floor at his father Maurice Julian’s haberdashery when he was in his teens.

Courtesy Cliff Missen

People with few means but big hearts stepped in to help Cliff Missen as he transitioned in and out of foster care as a child. When he turned 18, Missen made a vow to pay it forward and live a life in ​service of the poor. He made good on that promise when he brought well-drilling technology to rural villages in Liberia and an information technology program to Joss, Nigeria.

Courtesy Phyliss Craig-Taylor

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from February 20, 2017.

Phyliss Craig-Taylor was part of the first wave of black students to integrate public schools in Alabama. She started attending an integrated school in third grade, and it was a challenging and formative experience. White children taunted her and threw projectiles at her, and she collected each item in a cigar box. These objects later served as evidence in a lawsuit to push for stronger integration of public schools.

Bree Newsome is a community organizer and activist from Charlotte
Courtesy of Bree Newsome

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from January 9, 2017.

Activist Bree Newsome gained national attention in the summer of 2015 when she was arrested for scaling the flagpole at the statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, and removing the Confederate flag. The act of civil disobedience took place in the wake of the killing of nine African-American people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

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