The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.Visit the main SOT page.

Alex Harris

Reynolds Price was a prominent and prolific voice in Southern literature. Over the span of nearly 50 years, Price wrote dozens of works, including novels, memoirs, poems and plays. 

Courtesy of Scott Reintgen

Scott Reintgen knew many of his students at Jordan High School in Durham loved reading science fiction and fantasy novels, and he wanted to encourage these young readers. But most young adult novels feature white protagonists, and many of his students were unable to see themselves in these books.

 North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue signs House Bill 799 at the Wayne County Veterans Memorial in downtown Goldsboro, N.C. July 24, 2012.
Tech. Sgt. Colette Graham / U.S. Air Force

As a political reporter Lauren Horsch often passes by the photographs of politicians that adorn the halls of the General Assembly. They capture a harsh reality: while women make up just over half of the state’s population, women make up only a quarter of the state legislature. 

Courtesy of Bryant Simon

In September, 1991, a deadly fire killed 25 people at the Imperial Food Products plant in Hamlet, North Carolina. 

Workers at the chicken processing facility tried to escape after a hydraulic line spilled flammable liquid on a fryer and ignited a fireball inside the facility.

Tyree Daye
Courtesy of Tyree Daye

 In Tyree Daye’s debut book of poetry, the young author builds on the stories and superstitions of his mother, as well as his own memories of growing up in two small towns in North Carolina: Youngsville and Rolesville. 

Finbarr O'Reilly

Thomas J. Brennan first started writing about war through letters home to his wife when he was deployed in a remote village in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

Donald Trump makes first speech to the UN
Richard Drew / AP Photo - 2017

After multiple failed attempts by Republican leaders to repeal the Affordable Care Act, GOP lawmakers are back with their newest repeal effort. The Graham-Cassidy bill would cap funding to Medicaid, and many opponents say it would leave millions of people without healthcare coverage. 

North Carolina Opera

Charles Frazier’s Appalachian novel and love story “Cold Mountain” became a modern classic. And now the story of Confederate deserter W.P. Inman and his journey to find his way back to his sweetheart Ada Monroe is on stage at the North Carolina Opera. 

members of diali cissokho and kaira ba
Courtesy of Diali Cissokho and Kaira Ba

Diali Cissokho and Kaira Ba have long had a dream of traveling to Senegal to record an album. This year they made it happen. The band just returned from M’bour, Cissokho’s hometown and the city where his family still maintains a large compound open to musical relatives and friends. 

Robert Scoble / Flickr - Creative Commons

Amazon’s recent announcement to establish a new headquarters in North America has ignited a frenzy of proposals from various cities. 

Scientist Rachel Lance poses with a replica she created of  the H.L. Hunley submarine.
Courtesy of Rachel Lance

On a winter evening in 1864, the H. L. Hunley became the first combat submarine to sink a warship. The vessel successfully sank its target but then disappeared along with its eight crew members. The Hunley was not found until 1995, when a number of hypotheses as to why it sank rose to the surface. But after hundreds of hours of calculations and experiments, a North Carolina-based naval engineer came up with a new theory: the Hunley sank itself with the blast it created by firing on the USS Housatonic.

cover of 'The Hidden Light' and headshot of Daren Wang
Courtest of Daren Wang

Daren Wang grew up in an old farmhouse in Town Line, New York, a place that was notable for being the only town north of the Mason-Dixon Line to secede from the Union. 

The Green Party of Ireland/Flickr Creative Commons

Are school movies enjoyable because they are so relatable? Or do they present the far-fetched, fantastical experiences most bored students only daydream about? 

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo - 2017

This week the Trump administration hosted an annual summit at the White House for leaders of historically black colleges and universities. The meeting follows an executive order signed in February that moved a federal initiative supporting HBCUs from the Department of Education into the White House. 

Courtesy of Elisabeth Lewis Corley

The U.S. military has been using a virtual reality program to augment therapy for combat veterans returning from war with post-traumatic stress disorder. For the first time that software was made available for use in a theatrical production.

Edwidge Danticat
Wilfredo Lee / AP - 2017

Edwidge Danticat is a renowned Haitian-American writer whose work is rooted in her native country. 

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. 

Colby Rabon / Carolina Public Press

Carolina is home to more than 1000 adult care homes – spaces designed to provide shelter and assistance to those living with disabilities and mental health issues. But an in-depth investigation by Carolina Public Press reveals a broken system where oversight for the care homes is inconsistent and shuffled back and forth between state and county agencies.

Helen Chickering / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives voted to provide Hurricane Harvey disaster relief, raise the government’s borrowing limit and fund the government for three months. 

Courtesy of Kimberly and Michelle Cann

Kimberly and Michelle Cann grew up playing a range of instruments, including the steel drums of their family’s native West Indies. But it was the piano that gripped both of them and inspired their lifelong commitment to serious musicianship. 

Mission Hospital, Asheville, NC
Mission Health / Wikimedia Commons

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Mission Health are going head-to-head over the cost of services for patients in western North Carolina.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Heaney

Stephen Henderson rarely talked about his military service or his time in Vietnam until he joined a writing group of other Vietnam War veterans at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville.

Marcia and John Shoop
Courtesy of Marcia Mount Shoop

After coaching football at nearly every level from high school to the NFL, John Shoop and his wife Reverend Marcia Mount Shoop have racked up a lifetime of observations and convictions about the ethics of sports.

Nancy Hatch Dupree
Massoud Hossaini / AP Photo

Nancy Hatch Dupree helped preserve the culture and history in Afghanistan through years of war and turmoil. She moved to Kabul in 1962 with her first husband and went on to write five books and more than 100 articles on Afghanistan. 

Common Whitetail
C.L. Goforth

The dragonfly is often celebrated for its glittering body and elegant flight, but the insect is also a ferocious predator and a boon for mosquito-ridden areas. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will celebrate the many facets of the dragonfly this year at its annual “Bugfest.” 

Leonard Bernstein seated at piano, making annotations to musical score
Al Ravenna, World Telegram staff photographer / ce Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c27784

Leonard Bernstein is remembered as an exceptionally talented conductor, composer and teacher. His “Young People’s Concerts” television series exposed millions of American children to classical music, and his message that music is for everyone struck a chord with many communities. 

Trevor Noah
Photo by Evan Agostini / Invision/AP, File

Ever since President Donald Trump announced he was running for president in 2015, late-night television shows have taken on a new tone. Programs like “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers” have adopted more political rhetoric, while “The Daily Show” continues to offer political satire with a diverse staff. 

National Guard soldiers in Houston in August of 2017
Texas Army National Guard photo / FBI

Floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey still filled the streets in Texas when Hurricane Irma blew ashore in Florida. As the latest storm moves toward North Carolina, Duke scientists explore whether these rare weather events are growing more frequent or more extreme. They also analyze how communities and governments can become more resilient.

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. 

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston / WUNC

On Tuesday the state of North Carolina initiated a lawsuit against the Chemours Company for allegedly dumping the contaminant GenX into the Cape Fear River. 

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