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In the city where nearly half of all enslaved Africans were brought to this nation, Spoleto Festival USA will unveil a new opera based on the life of an African-Muslim slave.  His autobiography is believed to be the only surviving, unedited story written in Arabic in the United States.

Omar Ibn Said came to Charleston through Gadsden’s Wharf in 1807 and was sold as a slave.  He escaped his Charleston owner and fled to North Carolina where he was recaptured, jailed and resold.  He penned his autobiography in 1831.  His story, lost for decades and eventually held in private collections, was acquired by the Library of Congress two years ago.  It was recently translated into English.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

That the NFL’s Carolina Panthers would eventually move the team’s practice facility and operations out of Charlotte and south of the border to Rock Hill was really just a matter of when the South Carolina Legislature would greenlight a set of tax breaks (worth somewhere between $115 and $120 million, by most estimates) that would allow the team to set up shop in York County. And when Panthers would officially say they were coming.

On June 5, the Panthers, the state, and City of Rock Hill made the official announcement that the team will be moving in over the next couple years.

Rock Hill Unveils All-Electric Bus Fleet

Jun 6, 2019
Rock Hill's free My Ride bus fleet boasts zero emissions. My Ride is funded mainly through the a combination of FTA funds, a local match from the city's general fund, and partners.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

When Rock Hill set out to launch its first full-scale bus system, it wanted to try something different. Well, all the rides on the MyRide system will be free and all seven buses in the fleet will be 100 percent electric. The really different part, though, is that no one’s ever started out this way before.

Down the ramp of a Coast Guard Landing barge Yankee soldiers storm toward the beach-sweeping fire of Nazi defenders in the D-Day Invasion of the French Coast. Troops ahead may be seen lying flat under the deadly machine gun resistance of the Germans.
National Archives

75 years ago - June 6, 1944 - 156,000 Allied troops on nearly 7000 ships and landing craft and supported by 11,590 planes dropping both bombs and paratroopers, landed on the beaches of Normandy, France.  The top-secret invasion of Europe was code-named Operation Overlord, but is more broadly known the world over as D-Day.  That day began the battle to free the continent from the grip of Nazi Germany.  

Pianist David Virelles and percussionist Roman Diaz teach a class at the Charleston Jazz Academy
Victoria Hansen

Scribbling notes on a dry erase board just won't do.  So David Virelles plays them instead, on a piano.  The Cuban composer and pianist is teaching a masters class at the Charleston Jazz Academy in North Charleston, as part of the Spoleto arts festival's community outreach program.

In just a couple of hours, he's performing too.

"I hope the students walk away with what it takes to play music," Virelles says.  "It takes a lot of discipline, perseverance and love.  You have to be passionate about it and really spend time to be any good."

Tina Davis, GIS specialist, and Mike Lewis, recovery specialist, take in some training at the York County OEM, to better know how to handle an emergency.
Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

Emergency management coordinators in South Carolina have a lot to think about. A lot to think about.

On any given day, a normally quiet command center, like the one deep in the ground below Greenville City Hall, could fill up with representatives from a whole pile of agencies in a matter of minutes.

“County Public Works, the American Red Cross, the Department of Social Services, DHEC, law

Paul Wiancko
paulwiancko.com

Paul Wiancko started playing cello at age five. By age eight, he had composed his first piece of music.

“If you can call it a piece,” Wiancko says. “I think it was maybe a thirty-two measure little tune, mostly in C major, mostly consisting of a couple of triads. And I believe it was called “Breeze.” I had one of my parents’ friends print out the sheet music for it."

But for a long time following that early effort, Wiancko would shift his musical talents elsewhere.

This 17-Year-Old Entrepreneur Has More Game Than You

May 31, 2019
One of Hunter Lawrence's favorite arcade games in the Monster Drop -- and not just because it's likely to sell for a bundle.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

It’s loud in here. That’s unusual, given that ‘here’ is a self-storage facility. Those are usually quiet; somber, even.

This afternoon, though, a riot of pulsing music, random mwa-ha-haaaas, and various sci-fi bleeps and bloops make this place sound like a really fun vacation spot.

And, for the most part, these cacophonous machines will end up someplace people will go to just have fun. Some will end up in basements or dens or man caves, but most will land at a seaside arcade or a retail restaurant like Dave & Busters.

It’ll just be a minute before they get there. Hunter Lawrence needs to fix them first.

Breaking News: Mueller Statement at 11:00 a.m.

May 29, 2019

Special counsel Robert Mueller is making a statement about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Watch his remarks at the Justice Department live.

Street view of Abbeville's Trinity Episcopal Church
BIll Fitzpatrick

South Carolina is famous for many of its structures, especially the houses of worship that dot the varied landscape of the Palmetto State. The existence of many of these structures go back over a hundred years or more. But, whether grand and ornate, or small and simple, they all require a regular amount of maintenance. However, some of those houses of worship have fallen into disrepair due to dwindling membership, or a lack of finances, causing those structures to become at risk of possibly being lost and forgotten forever.

Opening Ceremonies on the steps of Charleston City Hall
Victoria Hansen

As welcoming as the cannons and confetti, summer temperatures that would stretch into the 90s sizzled on the steps of Charleston’s city hall.  The 43rd annual Spoleto Festival opening ceremonies began on cue, with bells ringing, paper fans flapping and spectators  seeking shade beneath wide brimmed hats.

Six Flags Over Marlboro County

May 24, 2019
Vive le Marlboro! France's flag is one of six that commemorate South Carolina's history of sovereign states.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

The Marlboro County Courthouse is a pretty unique place. The building itself is essentially a replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, right down to the clock tower.

The courthouse grounds are also host to a stalwart set of palm trees – and to the flags of six nations, former and current, that have had a major influence on South Carolina. Listen to a conversation with Jeff Dudley, past president of the Marlboro County Historical Society (and member of several other area historical organizations) and learn how and why Marlboro County’s six flags came to be.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

For most people, social media is hardly a darling of the digital age.

The deaf would like to respectfully disagree.

The S.C. Emergency Management Division has started a program, the Citizens' Academy, to help the public understand what state and local governments do to respond to emergencies, such as the historic 2015 flood.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

The past few years of historic floods and hurricanes has amply demonstrated how subject South Carolina can be to severe weather emergencies.  To help the public better understand how the state reacts to and deals with these situations, the S.C. Emergency Management Division has created a new program, the Citizens' Academy.

The S.C. State House
Ron Cogswell [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

In the final hours of this year’s session of the state legislature, Senate yesterday passed an economic incentives bill  aimed at persuading the NFL’s Carolina Panthers to move it's headquarters and practice facilities from Charlotte to Rock Hill.  A $250 Million investment for York County.  Rock Hill Senator Wes Climer told the Senate it’s a huge win for the state's economy.

Champ Hood, Walter Hyatt and David Ball of Spartanburg were Uncle Walt's Band, who released several self-produced albums in the 1970s and gained cult status in Texas.
Mark Michel/King Tears Music

In the 1970s and early '80s, an acoustic trio from Spartanburg made its mark with well-crafted tunes featuring beautiful harmonies.  Walter Hyatt, Champ Hood and David Ball were known as Uncle Walt's Band.  Their blend of folk, swing, and bluegrass influences attracted audiences wherever they lived - including Spartanburg, Nashville and, ultimately, Austin, Texas.  But, strangely, the enthusiasm of their fans never went beyond a faithful cult following.

The Teachers are coming: Hundreds of educators and supporters march crossing Sumter Street in Columbia to rally on Statehouse grounds for better funding and support for education.
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio

Wednesday’s All Out May 1 Day of Reflection drew 10,000 people to the state house in Columbia.  The organization responsible, for what some are calling an historic event, is less than a year old. SCForEd was created May 30, 2018 by Lisa Ellis.

“She was really frustrated and just wasn't sure she wanted to stay in the profession,” SCForEd board member Paige Steele said.

Teachers and their supporters rally outside the South Carolina State House in Columbia on May 1, 2019.
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

Some 10,000 teachers and supporters from across the state descended on the Statehouse this week sending a powerful message to lawmakers that they want more state support in funding and in education reforms, and they are not happy with the school improvement bill pending in the legislature.

Kimberly Nelson, founder of SC Parents for Vaccines.
www.cdc.gov

When Greer parent Kimberly Nelson put her 6-week old son in child care for the first time, something happened that would scare her- the flu began to spread through the center. The baby in the crib next to her son’s became severely ill and was hospitalized for a week. Nelson was inspired to start the advocacy organization South Carolina Parents for Vaccines.

The South Carolina State House
File

School Improvement Bill Pushed To Next Year

Leaders in the state legislature had hoped that the magnitude of deciding what to do with state-owned utility Santee-Cooper would not interfere with their efforts to pass a desperately needed school improvement bill this year. But with just two weeks remaining in this year’s legislative session Santee Cooper’s future is being debated on the Senate floor, and the education bill is being pushed to next year.

The future home of the Rock Hill Sports & Events Center is still under construction.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

Tourism is big business for South Carolina. The state Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (PRT) puts annual tourism revenue at about $20 billion.

Panther statue outside stadium.
Paul Brennan [CC0 1.0] via PublicDomainPictures.net

The Charlotte-based Carolina Panthers could be moving their training facilities and operations south of the border, to York County. The team is looking at a former industrial park just off I-77, among other locations in Fort Mill and neighboring Chester County.

To do so would require the state to pony up as much as $120 million in incentives – something not all members of the South Carolina Legislature have gotten behind – and to do that would require the State Senate to pass a bill that has already passed in the House.

Roots Musik Karamu Celebrates 40 Years

Apr 19, 2019
Osei Chanderl Celbrating 40 Years as host of Roots Musik Karamu
South Carolina Public Radio

When Osei Chandler’s wife Saadeka wanted to move from Brooklyn in 1977 closer to her home in Summerville,  SC, the now reggae music show host couldn’t say no.  He was smitten.

“I remember the first time we met,” he said. “She was like six feet tall, with a mini skirt and afro. I was toast,” he laughs.

Looking back, next to his marriage and kids, moving  was one of the best things he ever did.

“I couldn’t be on the radio in Brooklyn," said Chandler. " I'd be too busy hustling, trying to get to work. I’d probably have to have two or three jobs."

Sen. Chip Campsen (R-Charleston) flanked by Gov. Henry McMaster and a bi-partisan group of State Senators pushing to preempt off-shore drilling for oil and gas along the South Carolina coast.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Budget Also Contains Off-Shore Oil Prohibition

The S.C. General Assembly passes hundreds of bills and resolutions each year, but the most important measure enacted by the legislature is the annual State Appropriations Bill.  That’s the state’s operating budget for the next fiscal year which begins on July 1.  Not only does the budget provide the funding for state government to operate, it also identifies the priority needs of the state.

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.

Former Vice President Joe Biden touches the casket of former South Carolina governor and long time U.S. Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings
The Citadel

It was one of those rare Charleston days with no humidity, only blue skies and a slight  breeze.  Rare indeed, like the Charleston native being remembered as a, “one of a kind statesman”.

The funeral of former South Carolina governor and six term U.S. Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings brought him back, near the neighborhood where he grew up and the school he held so dear, his Alma mater, The Citadel.

“He talked about The Citadel like it was in a literal sense, his citadel,” said former Vice President Joe Biden.  It meant, “Everything to him.”

Graphic for the funeral services of the Honorable Ernest Frederick "Fritz" Hollings.
SCETV

Watch a live, video stream of funeral coverage begins at 11:00 a.m.

Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (1922-2019) was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1922. He graduated from The Citadel in 1942 and served as an artillery officer in World War Two. After the war, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. In 1958, at age 36, he was elected Governor. In 1966, Hollings became a U.S. Senator, an office he would hold for nearly 40 years. In 2003, Hollings retired from political service. The former senator died at the age of 97 on April 6, 2019.

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 South Carolina State House
File

State lawmakers are in the final month of this year’s legislative session with most of this year's priority bills still being debated.

This week, a Senate sub-committee opted to hold until next year's session a controversial portion of the massive school improvement bill in hopes of securing passage of the remainder of the bill this year.  The bill which has already passed in the House of Representatives is viewed as the most important matter for the legislature this session.

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.”

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