The State of Things

Diana Matthews / Algonquin Books

This program originally aired April 4, 2016

Lee Smith started writing stories when she was nine years old and sold them for a nickel a piece.

Many of them were inspired by the gossip, true stories and daily grind she observed at her father's dime store, deep in the coal mining mountains of Virginia.

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

The NBA announced that the 2017 All-Star Game will not be held in Charlotte as planned.

The decision comes after state lawmakers did not make enough changes to the law known as House Bill 2 to satisfy the league. It could cost the state more than $100 million in economic impact and the decision will be a factor in the gubernatorial race between incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper.

Photo from "Bad Girls at Samarcand: Sexuality and Sterilization in a Southern Juvenile Reformatory"
Records of Samarcand Manor, Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice, Department of Public Safety, Samarcand Manor School, Eagle Springs, North Carolina

More than 2,000 women and girls were forcibly sterilized in the first two decades of North Carolina's state eugenics program from 1929-1950.

While many governmental institutions and scientists propelled the movement forward, the new book "Bad Girls at Samarcand: Sexuality and Sterilization in a Southern Juvenile Reformatory" (LSUP/2016) traces the story of one reformatory's unexpected role in the process.

Image of Second Line Stompers
Gregg Gelb

Note: this program is a rebroadcast. 

The Republican Party has gathered in Cleveland to officially declare Donald J. Trump as the 2016 presidential nominee.

While Trump supporters hope to "Make America Great Again," many GOP establishment politicians opted not to attend the festivities. And Ted Cruz’s refusal to endorse Trump draws criticism from the crowd.

Photo of Yasmin Evans and her mother
Yasmin Evans

As a young Muslim-American journalist, Yasmin Bendaas pays particular attention to how Muslim women are represented in the media.

As international media coverage continues to put a spotlight on the Islamic State Group and American political rhetoric highlights religious stereotypes, Bendaas began to wonder how these representations of Islam have impacted the daily lives of Muslim-American women.

Photo from "Violet"
Jon Gardiner

In the 1960s, when a young woman named Violet has an accident that leaves her with a disfiguring scar, she sets off on a journey from her home in North Carolina to seek the help of a healing preacher in Oklahoma.

Along the way, she meets two soldiers who help in her discovery of inner beauty, and guide in her understanding of racial divides in a new era for the American South.

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

For the next episode of "Movies on the Radio," The State of Things is asking, what is your favorite movie about music? 

Did you enjoy the humorous depiction of rock stars in "Almost Famous?" Were you moved by the dramatic portrait of Mozart in "Amadeus?" Do you still remember the soundtracks of "American Graffiti" and "Jaws?" Film experts Marsha Gordon and Laura Boyes will examine how movies depict musicians and the music industry and discuss memorable movie music.

Screenshot from Zootopia
BagoGames / Flickr

From Jungle Book to Jaws and Babe to The Lion King, the stars of the silver screen are often not humans but instead are our four-legged friends. Though no animal has ever won an Oscar, viewers have embraced animal actors and characters in film.

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 Keith Knight
Keith Knight

Knight was recently on The State of Things in advance of his appearance at the Durham Comics Fest.

Keith Knight has considered himself a cartoonist since he was in diapers, doodling on the walls of his family home near Boston.

While that spirit of creativity has not changed, the content of Keith's work has taken on more profound issues. Keith is known for drawing a weekly political cartoon called "(Th)ink" that often provides commentary on police brutality, racial profiling, and the black experience in America.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie

Donald Trump announces Mike Pence will be his running mate in his bid for the White House.

Trump delayed the decision last night in the wake of the attack in Nice, France. He revealed his choice of the Indiana governor on Twitter earlier today. His decision comes as the Republican party gears up for its convention in Cleveland.

And on the Democratic side of the ticket, Bernie Sanders steps aside and endorses Hillary Clinton as the presidential nominee. Meanwhile, legal challenges to North Carolina's voter ID requirements continue in the courts.

photo of a dress designed by Willie Kay
North Carolina Museum of History

For much of the 20th century, Willie Otey Kay was a household name among the fashion-conscious in Raleigh. The designer and dressmaker crafted one-of-a-kind fashion for women to wear to weddings, debutante balls, and other formal events.

photo of Rissi Palmer
Rissi Palmer

Singer-songwriter Rissi Palmer exploded onto the country music scene in 2007 with a self-titled album. She sang alongside Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, and her single "Country Girl" was the first song by an African-American woman artist to make the country Billboard charts in almost two decades.

photo of Honest Pint Theatre Company
Megan Dohm

Shakespeare’s "Hamlet" is now more than 400 years old. And while many theatergoers are familiar with its plot lines about murder, death and betrayal, each new staging of the production has the opportunity to highlight a different theme or lesser-known aspect of the story.

Host Frank Stasio previews two different interpretations today. He is joined first by 14-year-old Leo Egger, a student at Durham School of the Arts, whose passion for Shakespeare led him to direct and produce a community production in his neighborhood.

Film Still: A girl awaits her train on a Tokyo subway platform. Tokyo is home to the world’s busiest metro system, with approximately 8.7 million daily riders.
Patrick Shen and Brandon Vedder

For some, silence is defined as the absence of sound. But a new documentary film, "In Pursuit of Silence," explores the many facets of silence. From religious meditation to the natural world, silence is an integral part of existence. And the noise of modern life may be damaging in physical, mental and emotional ways.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

​North Carolina's House Bill 2 and the state budget dominated the headlines during this year's legislative short session. But the bills that got less attention could also have a huge impact across the state.

One of them places regulations on the footage caught by police body cameras, and declares those tapes are not public records. That same bill also establishes the first statewide needle exchange program.

book cover of "Fight Club 2"
Chuck Palahniuk

The first rule about Fight Club is "you do not talk about Fight Club." But author Chuck Palahniuk is making an exception.

As a sequel to the 1996 novel, Palahniuk is continuing  the story with a new graphic novel "Fight Club 2" (Dark Horse Comics/2016). It's set ten years after the original story, and shows the main character Sebastian refueling his alter ego Tyler Durden and the group Project Mayhem.

An image of Negar Mottahedeh
Golbarg Bashi

It's easy to think of a "selfie" as a narcissistic way to accrue "likes" on social media and  flaunt your latest traveling adventures. But every "selfie" tells a story about the photographer's world.

Negar Mottahedeh, associate professor of literature at Duke University in Durham, says taking a selfie is a humanizing way to document history in the age of social media. In a recent speech at TEDxDurham, Mottahedeh illustrated the ways selfies can be used as tools for protest and citizen journalism.

Image of tools in doctor's office
Morgan / Flickr/Creative Commons

Contrary to popular belief, statistics show that North Carolina does not have a doctor shortage problem; it has a doctor distribution problem.

Experts say the lack of funding for graduate medical education (GME) in rural areas is one reason that those communities have worse health outcomes.

photo of "Asperger's Are Us"
Asperger's Are Us

Asperger’s Are Us’ is a four-member comedy troupe that is quickly gaining national traction. While all four men are on the autism spectrum, their comedy is not all about their condition.

In fact, the group says it has no interest in poking fun at Asperger’s, and the men do not make light of their behavioral differences. They get on stage every night to enjoy one another’s company with the hope that their absurd and satirical sketches will make their audience laugh.

photo of Lar Lubovitch Dance Company
Chris Roesing

Lar Lubovitch is known in the performing art world as a breakthrough choreographer in modern, ballet and jazz dancing.

One of his most heralded works is called "Concerto 622," which depicted two men in a loving relationship for the first time on the modern dance stage. It gave a face to the AIDS crisis in the mid-80s.

Photo of a police officer following the Dallas shooting
AP Photo/LM Otero

Five law enforcement officers were killed last night in Dallas. The murders happened at a protest in response to the killing of two black men this week by law enforcement officers.

On Tuesday, police shot and killed Alton Sterling while they held him down at a convenience store in Baton Rouge, La.

photo of Violet Bell
Lizzy Ross

After spending four years making music in Nashville, singer-songwriter Lizzy Ross began to feel homesick.

Ross grew up in North Carolina, went to UNC-Chapel Hill and started her career in the Triangle music scene. While Nashville was filled with passionate and impressive musicians, she missed being part of a community that she felt really embraced diverse creative expressions.

Book cover of "Magic in Islam"
Michael Muhammad Knight

People of faith will argue that magic and religion are not the same thing; magic is often condemned as dark and unsacred, while religion is characterized as morally sound and pure. In his new book “Magic in Islam” (Tarcher Perigee/2016), Michael Muhammad Knight resists the notion that the two are incompatible.

He argues that through looking at the histories of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, it is clear that the boundary between magic and religion has been blurred time and time again. He looks at examples including the use and interpretation of the Quran, astrology, and mythological figures of multiple religions.