St. Augustine's University

Cast of 'Girls Trip'
Donald Traill/Invision/AP / AP - 2017

The comedy “Girls Trip” is a standout success from this summer’s blockbuster season. The movie is about four best friends who take a wild and raunchy trip to New Orleans, and since its release last month, it has faired well with both audiences and critics. Meanwhile rapper Jay-Z released his highly-anticipated album “4:44” at the end of June. 

Image of special agent Rosalynde Fenner
Rosalynde Fenner

  Note: This program is a rebroadcast from January 25, 2016.

Photo of Simone Manuel
Natacha Pisarenko / AP Photo

The Olympics are heralded as an international event rooted in intense competition, national pride and athletic successes. But the Olympic Games can often reveal complex race issues and overzealous displays of nationalism.

During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, athletes of color like U.S. swimmer Simone Manuel and U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas have been in the spotlight.

Photo of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James speaking at the ESPY Awards.
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

In the past two weeks, violence by and against police has dominated headlines and rattled the country. Protests from movements like #BlackLivesMatter continue while celebrities use speeches and social media as a platform to make their voices heard.

Meanwhile, the ESPN documentary series "O.J.: Made In America" looks at race relations since the 1960s through the life of former athlete O.J. Simpson.

photo of Muhammad Ali
AP / AP

In 2009, President Obama declared June "African-American Music Appreciation Month." The tribute started as "Black Music Month" in the 1970s. While the name has changed, it continues to be a time to celebrate the ways black artists have shaped music. These artists include three people who have recently died; Prince, Billy Paul and Phife Dawg. They each left a dynamic legacy in different genres.

An image of Zoe Saldana
Wikipedia Creative Commons / Public Domain

Last month, comedian Chris Rock hosted the Oscars amid controversy around the awards' lack of diversity. Rock's jokes jabbed at the Academy Awards lack of recognition for any actors of color.

But controversy around race in Hollywood continued after Rock's performance. The new biopic "Nina" depicts the struggles of iconic musician Nina Simone, a singer and civil rights activist. But critics say the movie disgraces Simone's legacy because lead actress Zoe Saldana used dark makeup to change her light-skinned complexion. 

Rapper Kendrick Lamar recently won five Grammys, but it's his performance at the awards show that's grabbing attention.
Jon Elbaz / Wikimedia Commons

In the last two weeks, musicians Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar have used two of pop culture's biggest stages to showcase their political message.

Beyonce's Super Bowl halftime show included her controversial new song "Formation." Meanwhile, Lamar took home five Grammy awards and offered a visually and lyrically stunning performance of his own songs at the awards show.

Critics of Cam Newton say his end zone celebrations are over the top and don't set a good example for younger fans.
Keith Allison / Flickr Creative Commons

GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump continues to make headlines with controversial statements about women and immigrants. Reports of an endorsement by 100 black leaders were quickly refuted by the group. They refused to endorse Trump earlier this week.

As the presidential race presses on, protests during Black Friday and on college campuses further dialogue about race relations and police brutality.

And an African-American NFL quarterback is criticized for his end zone celebrations.

Gabrielle Union stars in 'Being Mary Jane,' a BET show that challenges the portrayal of the black female.
Gina Hughes / Wikimedia Commons

News outlets across the country played a cell phone video this week of a white sheriff’s deputy in South Carolina violently arresting a black female student. The officer was fired, but public dialogue continues about the video and the alarming questions it raises about how school authorities discipline students.

In pop culture, television programs like Being Mary Jane are challenging media's portrayal of black women.

Serena Williams won the first three Grand Slams of the tennis season and is considered one of the top female tennis players ever but is often scrutinized for her demeanor.
Yann Caradec / Flickr Creative Commons

A new season of television launches this week with hit shows Empire and Black-ish. The shows are breaking records and barriers with audiences, showcasing narratives of black life in America. 

Meanwhile, Viola Davis won an Emmy this weekend for "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series," becoming the first woman of color to win the award. 

Jeanmarie Schubach

This week, staff members from The State of Things are sharing their favorite shows of 2014.

Producer Will Michaels joined the show in May after working as a producer for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and the North Carolina Teacher Project at WUNC.

Some of Will’s favorites included an interview with a championship track coach who grew up in the segregated South and a conversation with some of the pioneers of NASCAR.

Host Frank Stasio talks with producer Will Michaels about the conversations that stood out in 2014.

George Williams
St. Augustine's University

George Williams coaches one of the most successful track and field programs in the country. 

He has served as the coach at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh for 38 years. And this spring, he won his 35th Division II national championship.  

He’s also been a coach and an assistant coach for the U.S. men’s team in three Olympic Games. His runners include former world record holder Michael Johnson and Bershawn “Batman” Jackson.

But such success comes from a long history of leadership. Williams helped integrate his city track team in Miami, and was one of the first to push for integration in Cary's public schools.