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On this edition of South Carolina Lede, host Gavin Jackson is joined by the Post and Courier's Caitlin Byrd to examine the 2020 battle for South Carolina's Fist Congressional District. Four Republicans have announced their candidacy for the seat, a sign of how focused the state's GOP are on flipping that Lowcountry district after Democract Joe Cunningham delivered a major upset in last fall's election.

Charles F. Bolden, Jr.

Columbia native Charles Bolden has had a remarkable career: Marine fighter pilot, commanding general in Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait, deputy commandant of midshipmen at the U.S.

Thousands of South Carolina public school teachers descended on the Statehouse on May 1, 2019 demanding improvements in  the state's public schools.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

With this year’s session of the state legislature now officially over, lawmakers are already turning their attention to next year’s session, and like this year the top priority will be passage of a massive School Improvement Bill. 

Leading up to the 2020 election, South Carolina Lede is keeping you up to speed on what the candidates are saying on the campaign trail in the Palmetto State with these "Trail Bites" mini-episodes.

On this edition for the week of June 27, 2019, host Gavin Jackson takes us to the recent South Carolina Democratic Party Convention to hear from presidential hopefuls Jualian Castro, Marianne Williamson, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Andrew Yang. Over the next several Trail Bites episodes, we'll be brining you clips from all of the candidates who spoke at the convention.

Victoria Hansen

Many remember where they were when they heard the news: nine people gunned down inside an historic African American church in Charleston at the hands of a stranger they welcomed to bible study. But few know the passage they read.

Reporter Jennifer Berry Hawes does.

"It's called the 'Parable of the Sower,'" she says. "It's a story where Jesus talks about what happens when you throw seeds of faith onto different types of terrain."

Hawes writes about the tragedy in her first book, "Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness.."

Gavin Jackson (r) with Jamie Lovegrove (l) and Meg Kinnard on Monday, June 24, 2019.
A.T. Shire/SC Public Radio

On this edition of South Carolina Lede, host Gavin Jackson is joined by the Post and Courier's Jamie Lovegrove and the Associated Press' Meg Kinnard to recap the political news coming out of two big Democratic events in South Carolina this past weekend. Nearly all of the Democratic presidential candidates attended Rep. Jim Clyburn's (D-SC) "world famous" fish fry on Friday and the state party's convention on Saturday.

Sen. Kamala Harris listening to a voter during her Feb. 2019 town hall in Columbia, SC
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

The second round of democratic presidential debates is a little over two weeks away. There are over two dozen candidates in the running for the party’s nomination. In South Carolina, voters have been courted by almost all of the candidates, since the beginning of the year.

California senator Kamala Harris has visited the state nine times, most recently in the Pee Dee region, a mostly rural area. During her July 6-7 visit, Harris held at meet-and-greet in Darlington; town halls in Florence and Horry County; and also stopped by an African-American owned business in Marion.

It’s all a part of her campaign’s effort to meet “voters where they're at on the ground in their communities,” said Laphonza Butler, Senior advisor to the Kamala Harris Campaign.

“She has heard from voters all across the country and particularly in South Carolina about issues of the safety of their children; health care and the quality of education.”

Butler has campaigned for Harris in South Carolina, and has been instrumental in shaping the Senator’s campaign team and strategy there; which includes cutting through the dialogue of the crowded field and potential barrier of running against presumed front runners with more name-recognition by talking to as many voters as possible.

“Vice president Biden; everyone knows he was the vice president to President Obama. This is his third time running for president. He has been in office and serving in a place of public service for more than four decades. Senator Warren has done an incredible job, working on behalf of the 99% for decades as well. I think what we’re seeing in early polls is a real curiosity about Senator Harris- people who are inspired by what their hearing but want to hear more.”

Before the June debates, Butler said regardless of poll numbers (at the time) that put Harris trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Harris campaign felt like it was in a strong place.

“I think the more people in South Carolina, and folks across the country, get to know who Senator Harris is

and how she thinks about solving everyday problems with government, I think expect those numbers to go up.”

With a viewership of over 18 million, the former state prosecutor challenged fellow candidates on healthcare, race and other topics, during the June 27 live event. Afterwards, poll numbers did go up, according to CNBC:

Harris’ average support jumped to 14.7% on Wednesday, up from 7% on June 25, the day before the two-day debate started. An average of 27.2% of respondents supported Biden as of Wednesday, a drop from 32.1% on June 25.

The second round of democratic debates is two weeks away, where again, millions are expected to tune in.

June 24, 2019

If you want to know what issues voters in South Carolina are concerned about, attending one of the Democratic Party state convention events this past weekend would have been a great place to start.

Thousands of people, who will help reduce the staggering number of democratic presidential hopefuls through the state’s first-in-the-South primary in February, attended Rep. Jim Clyburn's (D-SC) "world famous" fish fry and several meet-and-greets with candidates over the course of the weekend. Through interviews with several of them, South Carolina Public Radio learned their concerns were as diverse as the candidates themselves.

Leading up to the 2020 election, South Carolina Lede is keeping you up to speed on what the candidates are saying on the campaign trail in the Palmetto State with these "Trail Bites" mini-episodes.

On this edition for the week of June 20, 2019, host Gavin Jackson takes you to the recent Black Ecomonic Alliance Presidential Forum in Charleston, SC. The forum featured four Democratic presidential hopefuls: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

How the Golf Industry Drives South Carolina's Economy

Jun 19, 2019
File photo, close-up of golf ball and golf club head.
File photo: HeungSoon/Pixabay

The golf industry is big business for the state of South Carolina, generating $2.59 billion in sales for the state in 2018.

The sport generated 31,434 jobs, $857 million in wages and income, and $309 million in federal, state, and local taxes, according to an economic impact study created by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism.

Yoga. Now with Bleats

Jun 19, 2019
Downward-facing... doe? Don't laugh, it happens a lot in goat yoga.
Scott Morgan/SC Public Radio

Until a few years ago, nobody really thought to put goats and yoga together. And yet, here we are, living in a world where the sight of downward-facing yogis and bouncing baby goats in the same place looks as natural as mac and cheese.

For Jim and Terri Gustin, owners of Critter Creek Farm in Rock Hill – primarily a flower farm, but one with lots of animals around – the idea just worked itself out.   

Ham radio operator Warren Rickey calls amateur operators statewide in SC HEART's weekly training exercise.  The group was founded to provide emergency communications when a disaster destroys phone and Internet capabilities.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

When a disaster strikes, communications may become spotty or even gone completely.  Cell phone towers may be down, land lines even disrupted, and if the Internet is offline, there goes email.  Keeping communications open for hospitals and other health care facilities during these types of crises are what amateur radio operators - or "hams" - train for once a week, as members of the South Carolina Healthcare Emergency Amateur Radio Team, or SC HEART for short.

On this episode of South Carolina Lede, host Gavin Jackson is joined by the Post and Courier's Caitlin Byrd to discuss the latest South Carolina 2020 poll numbers and recap the recent Black Economic Alliance forum in Charleston. They also preview two major political events this week: Congressman Jim Clyburn's annual fish fry, which 22 of the 23 Democratic presidential candidates are expected to attend, and the state Democratic Party Convention.

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.

Gavin Jackson (l) speaks with Kirk Brown and Nikie Mayo (r) in the Greenville News offices.
Sean Scott/SCETV

On this edition of South Carolina Lede, host Gavin Jackson speaks with Greenville News reporters Nikie Mayo and Kirk Brown about their recent coverage on South Carolina prisons. Mayo and Brown have been focusing on the disciplinary action taken against hundreds of corrections officers and other factors surrounding the 2018 riot at Lee Correctional Institution. The investigation into the incident, which left seven inmates dead, is ongoing and no one has been charged.

Selecting the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra

Jun 7, 2019
Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra members carry their insturments in downtown Charleston
Victoria Hansen

They are sure signs of Spoleto in downtown Charleston; instrument toting musicians and scorching heat.  Among the jostling violin cases, is Shannon Fitzhenry.  She’s back for her second year with the annual Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, one of 92 musicians chosen to play.

“The goal is to get up in time to warm up before rehearsal,” she laughs.  The Charleston native grew up with Spoleto, but admits she didn't fully appreciate it until she  moved away to study music at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland.