South Carolina Focus

SC Focus is a regular feature of South Carolina Public Radio.  As its name suggests, the segment focuses on the Palmetto State and its people.  It covers a wide variety of subjects, from South Carolina's war veterans to scientists, musicians and other topics, both serious and whimsical.  SC Focus can be heard at various times throughout the week during our news program on all South Carolina Public Radio stations.

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Lt. Col. James Doolittle and his crew on the USS Hornet April 1942. From left: Lt. Henry Potter, navigator; Lt. Col. James Doolittle, pilot; Staff Sgt. Fred Braemer, bombardier; Lt. Richard Cole, co-pilot; and Staff Sgt. Paul Leonard, engineer/gunner.
Joint Base San Antonio

77 years ago (April 18, 1942), 80 brave men did what had never been attempted: they flew 16 army B-25B Mitchell bombers off a U.S.

Civil Rights Movement Had its Roots in World War I

Apr 16, 2019
Some of the men of the 369th (15th N.Y.) who won the Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action, sailing home on The Stockholm in 1919. Front row, left to right: Private Eagle Eye, Ed Williams; Lamp Light, Herbert Tayl.
Source: International Film Service. The National Archives.

As soldiers were fighting overseas during World War I, there was another battle going on back home:  the battle for a better life for African Americans.  Historian Janet Hudson, speaking at a recent symposium on the war presented by Lander University in Greenwood, said even as they chafed under segregation and Jim Crow laws designed to keep them back socially and policially, black leaders saw the war as an opportunity to earn their rights by cooperating with white leaders and supporting the war through volunteering to fight, raising money and other means.

The Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital has been closed since 1973. The building is now owned by Allen University and is scheduled for a massive renovation and projected ribbon cutting in the Fall of 2020.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

In 1944, Columbia resident and civil rights activist Modjeska Monteith Simkins was put in charge of raising money for the construction of a new hospital to primarily serve the African American population of the Midlands. While completing this task, she wrote:

“It is our grand privilege and our duty; yours and mine; to help build and equip ourselves with a modern hospital owned and operated by Negroes.”

Symposium Examines Women's Roles During World War I

Apr 9, 2019
From The Electrical Experimenter, October, 1916. The original caption reads: "Here Are Some of the Patriotic Young Women Studying Radio-telegraphy At One of the Summer Preparedness Camps."
Public Domain

Lander University recented hosted a symposium on World War I, which ended just over a century ago.  The symposium drew scholars and authors primarily from the Southeast to discuss various aspects of the war, which then was known as "The Great War."  One aspect covered by a panel of experts examined the role of women during the war.

A file photo of the late Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings.
U.S. Congress

Former S.C. Governor and U.S. Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings died on Saturday, April 6, 2019 at the age of 97.  A Democrat, he held elective office for over fifty years.

South Carolina Public Radio's Russ McKinney has this look back at Hollings's life and political career.

File photo of an L.E.D. lightbulb.
Shawn Harquail [CC BY-NC 2.0] via Flickr

When the “light emitting diode,” or “LED” light was first developed, it was primarily used as an indicator light in lab equipment. But as the low energy consumption of LEDs was observed, and costs for manufacturing LEDs went down, the new lighting technology found its way into the hands of consumers. Users of the more modern light bulbs not only began to see lower power bills, but also noticed how rarely they needed to replace their LED bulbs.

Diana Krall was one of the many guests Marian McPartland welcomed to Piano Jazz over its long run.
SCETV

For many years, jazz great Marian McPartland welcomed some of the biggest names in - and out of - jazz to her NPR program, Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz.  March 20, on the 101st anniversary of her  birth, an evening of McPartland's music inaugurated a new music series, Live in the Lobby, offered by Columbia's Koger Center for the Arts.  

Pondering Plastic - Wildlife, Bans and Trash

Mar 26, 2019
Voldemort, a loggerhead being treated at the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

He weighs less than five pounds, but Zazu had big belly problems when he was rescued off the Isle of Palms coast nearly three months ago.  The tiny, green sea turtle had eaten plastic, all kinds of plastic; part of a balloon, clear sheets of plastic and material from a grocery bag. 

The juvenile  turtle is the 23rd patient admitted to the South Carolina Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital because of sea debris.  He swims in a private tank next to 17 others now in recovery, including a 260 pound loggerhead named Voldemort who got caught up in crab traps nearly a year ago.

Cerrusite, an ore of lead, from the Gibbes Collection.  This and many other natural specimens can be seen and researched on  McKissick Museum's new online site.
Courtesy of McKissick Museum, University of S.C.

A growing new website is now available that enables both scholars and the public to access photos and information about the natural history of South Carolina. 

File graphic "no cell phones" symbol
Pixabay

Just as business is conducted with cell phones every day in the Palmetto State, illegal business is also conducted daily - by convicts with cell phones smuggled into South Carolina prisons.  

The “Lincoln School” was the first public school for black students in Sumter. The school was built in the late 1800s and started as a frame cottage with four classrooms. By the 1950’s, the school acquired an additional twenty classrooms, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, a library, and a band room. The last graduating class under the name of Lincoln High School was the class of 1969.  But nine years before the name change, in 1960, Lincoln would be one of 17 high schools in the state to participate in a national survey.

IAAM president Michael Moore at Gadsden's Wharf in Charleston
Victoria Hansen

For as long as he can remember, Michael Boulware Moore has known the story of Robert Smalls;  a slave who not only gained his freedom by commandeering a Confederate ship and turning it over to Union forces, but later served in the South Carolina State Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Moore didn’t read about Smalls in school. Such bravery by slaves during the Civil War wasn’t always taught.  Instead, he grew up hearing personal stories from relatives like his grandmother.  Robert Smalls was his great-great grandfather.

Presidents of South Carolina's eight HBCUs
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

There are eight historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in South Carolina. These institutions of higher education in the United States were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community.

The Real I.D. is dentified by the gold star in the upper right corner.
Photo courtesy S.C. Dept. of Motor Vehicles

Many people enjoy traveling by air.  But after Oct. 1, 2020, they won't be able to board a commercial airplane in the United States, UNLESS they have the new "Real ID."  The new ID will replace current drivers' licenses and ID cards, and will be needed for people to gain entry to certain secured federal buildings and all military posts, as well as to board planes.

File
iAmMrRob via Pixabay

As hackers become more sophisticated at burrowing into business computers to steal everything from money to social security numbers and medical records, the need for protection grows ever more dire.  One way to help mitigate the damage, if not protect information from being stolen, was virtually unknown a decade ago.  But in the past five years or so, cyber insurance has become a must-have bulwark against hackers.

Courtesy of the Artist

Greenville artist Renato Moncini is a native of Italy, but between his journey from his homeland and his long residence in the South Carolina Upstate, he served more than a decade as what some call the "first artist of space."

Ann Marie Luc was just a year old when her mother gave her away in Vietnam.   She was born to a Vietnamese woman and an American father serving in the Army during the Vietnam War.  She had been passed between several families and had four different names by the time she was 17 years-old.   That’s when she moved to the United States with a birth certificate she says was not her own.

“A lot them buy and sell us,” she says of the adoptive families.  “A lot them just use us to come here."

It would be decades before Ann knew she had a sister, born during the war as well.

South Carolina to See a "Super-Wolf-Blood Moon"

Jan 18, 2019
Stages of a total lunar eclipse,  July 27, 2018. The first image was taken not long after moonrise, image at the center at about the maximum, last image on the right at the end of the eclipse.
Bernd Thaller [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

Sunday, Jan. 20, South Carolinians will get a rare treat from the sky, as three events come together to form what some are calling a Super-Wolf-Blood moon.  A wolf moon is simply a traditional name for the full moon in January, and happens, obviously, every year.  However, this year it's occurring at the same time as a super moon, which S.C.

Late S.C. Hero Recalled World War II Exploits

Jan 10, 2019
T. Moffatt Burris, who died Jan. 4 at age 99, participated in numerous battles during World War II to help save the world.  He recalled some of those experiences in a 2016 interview with South Carolina Public Radio.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

South Carolina lost one of its heroes Jan. 4 when World War II veteran Moffatt Burris died at age 99.  He was one of many heroes who helped save the world from tyranny in the 1940s.  He fought to liberate Sicily and at Anzio to free Italy.  But perhaps his most memorable exploits, described in his memoir "Strike and Hold," came as  paratrooper who participated in Operation Market Garden, a failed attempt to hasten the end of the war with a massive troop jump into Holland. 

Protestors against offshore drilling gathered last month outside Charleston's Federal Courthouse
Victoria Hansen

It’s a campaign promise made during an ad last fall as he treaded water in the Atlantic Ocean.  Now Congressman Joe Cunningham is swimming hard against the powerful currents of Washington, as he tries to make good and protect the South Carolina coast from offshore drilling.

The first time politician announced Tuesday he will introduce the, "Coastal Economies Protection Act", as soon as he gets back to Washington, to prevent opening the Atlantic and Gulf Coast to drilling and seismic air gun blasting. 

Midlands Teenager is Champion Fiddle Player

Dec 31, 2018
West Columbia teen Ella Thomas plays gospel with her family, here, as well as classical with the South Carolina Youth Philharmonic and bluegrass with the band Palmetto Blue.  Thomas was last year's South Carolina Junior Old-Time Fiddle Champion.
Courtesy of the Artist

West Columbia teenager Ella Thomas is somewhat of a whiz with a violin in her hand. Whether she's playing classical with the South Carolina Youth Philharmonic, bluegrass with the band Palmetto Blue or gospel with her family band, her skill with a fiddle and bow last year earned her the title South Carolina Junior Old-Time Fiddle Champion.

From her Camden home, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker can monitor the goings-on around the world by flipping through the TV news channels and keeping an eye glued to her Post, which she reads daily along with the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.  Parker is one of the most widely-syndicated columnists in America, read in more than 400 media outlets twice a week.  Like her colleagues, she started as a newspaper reporter – in her case, in Charleston – and moved through the ranks of various papers until an editor realized she had a voice “and I have difficulty keeping my voice

The inside of David Jones' practice balls are ribbed to give them strength.  The two halves are fused together by friction.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

David Jones and his son Brantley are baseball fans.  Brantley played as a youngster, and was so enthusiastic about batting practice that his older brother, who didn’t like the game, was forced by circumstance to invent a pitching machine so he wouldn’t have to pitch to his brother for hours every day.  That machine, created as a school science project when he was only 11, and Brantley just 9, became the foundation for a business. 

Modern chimney sweeps use high-tech equipment to keep chimneys and homes safe and clean.
Chimspector

Where the old image of the chimney sweep is a skinny guy with a big brush covered with grime and soot, the modern chimney sweep is much cleaner and uses high tech equipment in the 21st century, according to two Columbia sweeps.  There are about 30 chimney sweeps in the state, and they keep busy.   Sweep Drew Stein says dense plastic rods with brushes now are inserted into chimneys and spun with a drill to clean soot and creosote – a flammable byproduct of burning wood – from chimneys, which prevents dangerous chimney fires. 

And the winner is...
Vern Hart [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Candystore.com keeps an eye on the candy tastes of America, producing an interactive map of each state's favorite candies at various seasons of the year.  At Christmas, many states' favorite is candy canes, others prefer reindeer corn or Hershey Kisses.  According to the website, South Carolina's favorite Christmas candy is a classic:  M & Ms.  

A portrait of Judge J. Waities Waring hangs in the courthouse that bears his name.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

When Charleston journalist Brian Hicks first heard the story of U.S. District Judge Julius Waties Waring, he knew what he must do; write a book about it.  He says the son of a Confederate soldier became an unlikely civil rights "hero," and that's a word Hicks doesn't often use. Yet, Waring's name is still fairly unfamiliar, and he was an eighth generation Charlestonian.

NY MTA [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

Trivia games have been popular at South Carolina bars and restaurants for years, and the taste for trivia shows no sign of slowing down.  Nearly every night, teams of friends can be found competing for prizes by conjuring often-useless bits of little-known information from their memories.

10,000 More Kids in SC Now Without Health Insurance

Dec 5, 2018
Nick Youngson [CC BY-SA 3.0] Alpha Stock Images

Data from a new report indicates the number of uninsured children in the United States has increased for the first time in nearly a decade. According to the Georgetown University Center for Children and Family, between 2016 and 2017, the number of uninsured children increased by about 276,000. In South Carolina, that number is 10,000. Joan Alker is Executive Director of the Georgetown center, she spoke with South Carolina Public Radio about why these numbers are important.

Richland Library staff preparing to use the new empathy lab.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

Virtual reality and simulation tools are helping people in the Midlands "exercise their empathy muscle." Richland Library has a mobile empthy lab that travels to its various branches, giving customers the chance to "try on" someone else's life and see things from a new perspective. 

Binky is the breed standard for the Carolina dog, and has been given the registration number 1 by the American Kennel Club.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

A breed of dog that came to North America with man thousands of years ago over the Bering land bridge and was  overlooked in the South for many years has recently been saved from extinction with the help of a pair of Aiken breeders.  What is now called the Carolina dog, a common "yaller dog" of the South, was rediscovered by University of Georgia professor I. Lehr Brisbin in the 1990s and introduced to Billy Benton and Jane Gunnell, who became fascinated with the largely-unnoticed dogs - most of which had become wild - and began breeding them. 

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