by Brian Clarey, Savi Ettinger, Jordan Green, Sayaka Matsuoka and Nikki Miller-Ka
A lot happened in the cities of the Triad this year — some big, some small. Together they shaped our reality over the last 12 months. We tasked our writers with culling through our coverage, updating story lines, adding in items we may have missed during the year to find the 100 moments that defined us. Read on for a pointillist narrative of 2019, and let us know what we missed.
1. W-S rapper LB the Poet drops first full-length album
In November, Winston-Salem based rapper LB the Poet dropped his first full-length album, Transitions. The album aims to promote both positive thinking and awareness of inequality and gun violence. LB, or Larry Barron, also runs Word Academy, an after-school program boosting writing skills for Winston-Salem children.
2. Winston-Salem wrestlers grapple with storyline
The AML Pro Wrestling Training Center opens its rings to a different type of class: creative writing. Since May, Coach Josh Gerry has been leading courses on how to write better wrestling storylines, from crafting characters to the overall arcs of wrestling tournaments. “The three most important things in professional wrestling,” he explained to a class in August, “are character, story and emotion. All of that other stuff is just filler.”
3. Greensboro’s Uncle Pete dies
On April 4, Alonzo “Uncle Pete” Dudley Jr. passed away from health complications in a Greensboro nursing home, having suffered a stroke just months before. Uncle Pete spent two decades homeless, connecting with people around the Tate Street area. Community members gathered at a vigil days later to honor him outside of New York Pizza.
4. Quilla’s big year
In May and June, Greensboro-based performer Anna Luisa Daigneault, better known as Quilla, released new singles with accompanying music videos. “Boom Ba Da” debuted from Skateland’s rink on UNC-TV on May 2. Later on June 14, “Saggitarius” dropped with video collaboration from Hassan Pitts and Jennida Chase, two UNCG Media Studies professors, along with their third-year students. Her Spotify stream hit 3.1 million listeners in 2019.
5. Sudanese Americans march in Greensboro
Greensboro’s LeBauer Park hosted a protest of over 70 local Sudanese-Americans in January. The protestors met to stand in solidarity with calls from Sundanese demonstrators for the resignation of authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir. The concerns rose when Bashir disclosed the end of the government’s bread subsidies. Bashir gained the position of president during a military coup d’état in 1989.
6. Pastor Kenneth Fairbanks indicted for sexual abuse
Kenneth Fairbanks was a charismatic pastor whose Greensboro church, FaithWorks Ministries, offered a new start to people who felt let down by conventional religion. His church attracted hundreds of members and supported an orphanage in Kenya. He forged a partnership with the Greensboro Police Department to collect supplies for children going back to school. But for much of that time, Fairbanks was also sexually abusing four girls, including his daughter, according to indictments filed in Guilford County court. Triad City Beat delved into the case in 2019, although Fairbanks was arrested in early 2018. The case has yet to go to trial.
Members of the band Tinariwen, part of the nomadic Tuareg group in the Sahara Desert of north Africa, trained in a rebel militia about 30 years ago, but their lyrics today are mostly about the satisfaction of riding a good horse and finding water. One member was even detained by a Muslim fundamentalist militia after defying a ban against music. So it was perhaps ironic that when the Ramkat started promoting the show, the venue’s Facebook page was deluged with hateful comments, from, “So ISIS is playing the Ramcat,” to, “Take the fucking towels off your god damn heads.” Ultimately, the community rallied around Tinariwen, with local musicians recording cover songs in tribute, while Mayor Allen Joines declared Sept. 18 “Tinariwen Day” and Gov. Roy Cooper issued a letter welcoming the band to Winston-Salem. The initial backlash and ensuing outpouring of support generated international coverage, including a segment produced for “PBS NewsHour” that came out on Dec. 13. Triad City Beat broke the story, and it commanded the largest audience of any in 2019.
8. Sheriffs and ICE
Danny Rogers in Guilford County and Bobby Kimbrough in Forsyth County were part of a cohort of black Democrats who swept sheriff’s races in urban counties across North Carolina in 2018. Neither campaigned on immigration issues, in contrast to their counterparts in Mecklenburg, Wake and Durham counties, and after taking office Rogers and Kimbrough struggled to figure out a policy governing their respective agencies’ interactions with US Immigration Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Ultimately, they both decided against honoring ICE detainers, maintaining continuity with their white Republican predecessors. But cooperation with ICE became a major rhetorical ploy for Republicans in 2019, with state House Speaker Tim Moore taking to the “Ingraham Angle” on Fox News in March to trumpet a bill that would force sheriffs to honor ICE detainers. And in October, President Trump came to Fayetteville to campaign for Dan Bishop in the special election for the 9th Congressional District seat, repeatedly hitting on the theme of supposedly dangerous immigrant offenders and “sanctuary cities.” (Bishop eked out a narrow victory over Democratic opponent Dan McCready.)
9. Janet Pate firing
Janet Pate, a payroll manager at Greensboro real-estate company Koury Corp., has hosted the Confederate Memorial Tour Facebook page since at least 2017. Some of her commenters called for the death of Maya Little, a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student who poured a mixture of her blood and red ink on the base of the Silent Sam Confederate monument in April 2018, but otherwise Pate didn’t draw much attention. But when she live-streamed herself using the word “n***er” during two different events in Chapel Hill and in Lexington, Va. in January 2019, the footage was eventually circulated by the Atlanta Black Star newspaper on social media. A couple days after activists confronted Koury Corp. about Pate’s conduct, the company announced that Pate was no longer employed there.
10. Superintendent Angela Hairston
Following the departure of Beverly Emory, announced in February, newly elected board members set about the task of finding a new superintendent for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. They chose Angela Hairston, formerly the superintendent of Richmond County Schools in August, Ga. Hairston, who is the district’s first black superintendent, has charted a cautious course so far on the majority white school board, while black leaders have appealed to community members clamoring for more decisive action to address inequality to stand behind her. Since taking office, Hairston has declined to develop a plan for mandatory black studies that was sought by board Vice Chair Barbara Burke. And with the School Choice Special Committee planning to reconvene in February, Hairston has set expectations low, telling WFDD News: “There may not be any changes, we just need to understand it.”
11. Mayor Jay Wagner re-elected in High Point
Jay Wagner, a corporate attorney with an office in High Point’s Uptown section, has championed downtown investment since he was elected to High Point City Council in 2012. He butted heads with fellow council members until voters gave the revitalization faction a majority in 2014. In 2017, Wagner was elected to his first term as mayor, and in May the city opened a downtown ballpark — a signature accomplishment in his redevelopment agenda. In November, voters re-elected Wagner over opponent Carlvena Foster, who serves on the Guilford County Commission.
12. John Robert Hayes III denied
John Robert Hayes III, who is serving two consecutive life terms for a 1993 double murder that occurred during an early-morning party at a Winston-Salem drink house, got an opportunity to appeal his conviction before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. in February. Hayes’ defense attorney during the original trial did not present any evidence. The Innocence and Justice Clinic at the Wake Forest University School of Law obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents, 17 audio recordings, photographs and a crime scene video from the Forsyth County District Attorney’s office. Represented by Raquel MacGregor, a third year student at Wake Law, Hayes presented evidence that there were multiple shooters and a third shooting victim, but the panel of judges ruled that the new evidence did not prove Hayes’ actual innocence such that a reasonable juror would not find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
13. Richard Burr and impeachment
Sen. Richard Burr, a Wake Forest University grad with close ties to Winston-Salem, issued a scathing assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election in July as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in July, finding that “Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the US that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 campaign.” But on the matter of President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to interfere in the 2020 election, Burr is unlikely to vote for impeachment when the matter comes before the Senate. In early December, Burr perplexingly repeated a Russian talking point in his remarks to NBC News producer Frank Thorp V, saying, “Every elected official in Ukraine was for Hillary Clinton. You considered Russia meddling with just the preference they had before you knew the rest of it. Apply the same standard to Ukraine. The president can say they meddle because they had a preference, the elected officials, that’s not the current people.”
14. George Black
George Black’s legacy is secure. The Winston-Salem brickmaker’s materials were used in the construction of the 1923 North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Wachovia Bank branches, fine homes in Winston-Salem and restoration of Old Salem and Colonial Williamsburg. President Nixon sent Black to Guyana as a goodwill ambassador. And while the George Black house and brickyard on Dellabrook Road has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2000, efforts to restore the property as a “living history interpretive site” have lagged. In November, Preservation Forsyth met to begin discussions about how to raise money to make the dream a reality.
15. Kay Hagan dies
The passing of Kay Hagan at the age of 66 from encephalitis in October brought a stunning reminder of how drastically North Carolina politics have changed in the past decade. A business-friendly Democrat who had served in the state Senate, Hagan unseated Republican Elizabeth Dole in the US Senate race in 2008, while Barack Obama was the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry North Carolina since 1976. But Hagan’s centrist politics quickly lost traction as backlash against Obama accelerated political polarization in national and state government. She lost her 2014 reelection bid to Thom Tillis while attempting to distance herself from Obama, leaving a muddled legacy.
16. Miranda Jones smeared
A special education teacher at North Forsyth High School, Miranda Jones came into the public eye as a leader of Hate Out of Winston, a coalition that mobilized to demand removal of the Confederate monument in downtown Winston-Salem. The United Daughters of the Confederacy attempted to subpoena Jones to testify in its lawsuit against the city attempting to prevent removal of the monument in March. Around the same time, an anonymously-authored piece on the First In Freedom Daily website — owned by conservative political consultant Reilly O’Neal — attempted to smear Jones as an anti-Semite because of a visit to her class by Effrainguan Muhammad, a student minister with the Nation of Islam. Ultimately, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools found that Jones did not violate any district policies, but instituted a policy regulating guest speakers that hamstrung her from scheduling additional guests for the rest of the 2018-2019 school year.
17. Emily Spivey brings the Triad to TV
“Bless the Harts” is like “King of the Hill” but set in the Triad. That’s how creator Emily Spivey described the new animated series that aired on Fox at the end of September. A High Point native, Spivey had worked for “Saturday Night Live” and for the Netflix film Wine Country before creating her own show. Set in Greenpoint, NC — a thinly-veiled mash-up of Greensboro and High Point — the show follows a poor, white family that struggles to make ends meet. The cast is pretty stacked, featuring the voices of Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph to name a few.
18. Artists United to End Poverty
Greensboro’s own “We Are the World”-esque album launched in September and boasted more than 50 local artists. Greensboro native Andreao “Fanatic” Heard who has produced music for artists like Michael Jackson and Beyoncé, spearheaded the project, which included musicians like Laurelyn Dossett, Vanessa Ferguson, Josh King and Crystal Bright. The album aimed to reduce poverty in the city and was sold online.
19. Kudzu Wish reunion
Ten years after their last live performance, the members of Greensboro’s Kudzu Wish reunited once again for the release of an EP of remixed audio from the band’s 2005 recordings. Eric Mann, Adam Thorn, Devender Sellars, Tim LaFollette and Geordie Woods made up the group which formed during the members’ years at Guilford College. The group played a show at the Carolina Theatre in March which proved bittersweet because of LaFollette’s absence. The bassist passed away from ALS in 2011.
20. Goodbye, Greensboro Grub
This need-to-know monthly communal dinner that took place in an upstairs apartment in downtown Greensboro celebrated its last meeting in May after more than 10 years. Ruth and Charlie Jones had put on the Greensboro Grub since they moved to the city and opened it up to friends, family and anyone that needed a hot meal. Poets, artists, bankers and educators all sat side by side to enjoy homecooked meals in the Jones’ home and then performances by guests afterwards. “It’s definitely gonna leave a hole,” said Josephus Thompson about the end of the tradition.
21. Westboro protesters
Hundreds of counter-protesters showed up to three different locations in the Triad when the hateful, anti-LGBTQ+ Westboro Baptist Church showed its face in November. Drowning out the sounds and rhetoric of a measly three members, the counter-protesters blocked the view of the church group from a high school and two institutions of higher education.
22. Wake Forest racist emails
A slew of anonymous emails sent to faculty and staff members at Wake Forest University in September led to a climate of fear and anxiety on campus. Between Sept. 10 and 12, a dozen emails were sent to faculty and staff members that the university described as “intentionally inflammatory, using racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and discriminatory language.” While no direct threats were made, security was increased on campus and some faculty made the decision to have classes virtually rather than on campus.
23. Greensboro deputy police chief sexual abuse allegations
This breaking story by Triad City Beat uncovered a pattern of sexual abuse at a group home co-owned and run by Greensboro police Deputy Chief James Hinson. The findings, which stemmed from a state report, outlined allegations of sexual abuse by a former staff member at the group home and called into question whether Hinson and others worked to cover up the allegations. In September Hinson, who had been considered for the position of chief, announced his retirement after the former staff member was charged with sexual assault.
24. Democratic presidential candidates visit
It’s widely known that the Triad, along with the Triangle and Charlotte, are considered critical voter blocks that could help swing North Carolina blue in the 2020 elections. This year, the Triad was visited by four Democratic presidential candidates including Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren. All four visited different locations in Greensboro from Bennett College and NC A&T University to Smith High School and Natty Greene’s. Harris and O’Rourke have since dropped out of the race.
25. RiverRun awards
RiverRun Film Festival in Winston-Salem bestowed Master of Cinema awards to Richard Benjamin, Mike Medavoy and Paula Prentiss at this year’s event in April. The jury selected Alice, from director Josephine Mackerras, as Best Film, and the Audience Award went to Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn, from Zachary Stauffer.
26. JT Poston wins the Wyndham Championship
North Carolina native JT Poston tied a tournament record, shooting a 22-under 278 to beat 2011 winner and Wake Forest alumni Webb Simpson by one stroke at Sedgefield Country Club in August.
27. Hubert Hurkacz wins Winston-Salem Open
The Polish tennis player Hubert Hurkacz became the first tour Men’s Singles winner from his home country since 1982 when he won the Winston-Salem Open in August. Marcelo Melo of Brazil and Lucasz Kubot, also of Poland, won the Men’s Doubles category.
28. GSO Police Chief Wayne Scott retires
After five years as chief and 20 on the force, Wayne Scott announced his retirement from the GPD in August, effective sometime in January 2020. As of November, there were still 39 candidates in the running for the position.
29. Chief district court judge dies of overdose
Guilford County Chief District Court Judge Tom Jarrell died at his High Point home in August. An autopsy revealed he had overdosed in fentanyl-laced heroin, the official cause of death.
30. Triad City Beat wins awards
The TCB team took home two national Altweekly Awards, awarded at the annual convention in July, both for political writing. Competing against more than 100 papers from the US and Canada, Senior Editor Jordan Green took Third Place for his Citizen Green column, and Publisher Brian Clarey won First Place for his weekly editorials.
31. Mike Causey stands up
In April, a scandal erupted involving state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, who reported a bribe from a heavy GOP campaign contributor to the FBI in January 2018, according to an indictment unsealed in April. NC GOP Chair Robin Hayes was named in the indictment. Also tangentially implicated were US Rep. Mark Walker and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.
32. 2019 commencement speakers
Triad colleges and universities had a banner year when it came to spring commencement speakers. In TCB’s ranking, Greensboro native Ken Jeong took First Place at UNCG. Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku took Second Place at High Point University. And we ranked Washington Post Publisher Frederick J. Ryan Jr at Wake Forest at Third Place. Other speakers included astronaut Stephanie D. Wilson (Salem College), Broadway musical director Mary J. Campbell (UNCSA), philanthropist Kwanza Jones (WSSU and Bennett College), Johnetta Cole (Guilford College), Merck executive Willie A. Deese (NC A&T) and George Johnson (Elon Law).
33. Bennett College’s new president struggles with accreditation
Deep in debt and with a dwindling student population, Bennett College, one of just two private, women’s HBCUs in the country, was on the verge of losing its accreditation. The school raised $9.5 million including a $1 million gift from Kwanza Jones — and named a new president, Suzanne Walsh, in August. But as of yet the school is still on probation. The situation is ongoing.
34. Eric Gales headlines the Coltrane Jazz Fest
Memphis guitar virtuoso Eric Gales moved to Greensboro after falling in love at a blues festival, and this year he headlined at home for the Coltrane Jazz Festival in September. Gales visited John Coltrane’s ancestral home in High Point with TCB photographer Todd Turner to get a better grasp of the man and his legacy. “I don’t think the world understands,” he says. “When you are trusted with this miraculous gift, it comes with a lot of pressure. And we resort to certain vices that, in your mind, it’s helping you cope with all the pressures of what you’ve been given.”
35. Charlie Hunter comes to town
Legendary guitar technician Charlie Hunter, best known for jazz and improv works and the band Garage a Trois, moved to Greensboro in late 2019, and had been playing quiet, one-off shows all year at OnTheOne music space in downtown Greensboro. But he made his debut at the Crown in November with an interpretation of Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” orchestrated by Bobby Previtte.
36. Ani DiFranco meets Rhiannon Giddens
As part of Greensboro Bound literary festival, folk hero Ani DiFranco sat down with the Gate City’s own Grammy winner Rhiannon Giddens to talk about DiFranco’s autobiography, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, as well as motherhood, the music industry and creative process at NC A&T University in May.
37. Adam Calhoun creates stir at the Blind Tiger
“Hick-hop” artist Adam Calhoun raised a ruckus at the Blind Tiger in June. Critics say his music glorifies white-supremacist ideas, utilizes Confederate imagery in videos and propagates negative stereotypes about African Americans. After the set, Blind Tiger spokesman Don “Doc” Beck issued an apology on social media for the booking, which has since been taken down.
38. Novant’s alleged retaliation against an employee
Karen Obas, an insurance specialist in the patient financial services department at Novant Health, filed a claim of retaliation with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and on June 28 the agency issued a “right to sue” letter. But Obas was unable to afford the $400 filing fee and the cost of keeping a lawyer on retainer, and decided to go public with her case while keeping her options open to take legal action at a later date. Obas said she was subjected to arbitrary discipline and harassment, and prevented from transferring to another division, after she reported that one of her supervisors told one of her black coworkers: “If you don’t stop, you’re going to get lynched.” Obas remains employed in patient financial services since speaking out about the alleged retaliation.
39. Political retirements
Filing for what promises to the be the biggest election since 2008 closed on Dec. 20, leaving some notable absences. US Rep. Mark Walker, a Republican who has been steadily moving to the right, decided against running for re-election in the 6th Congressional District after it was redrawn to favor a Democratic candidate, but said he has President Trump’s backing to run for US Senate in 2022. Winston-Salem Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Burke, who has been in office since the Carter administration, did not file for reelection. And Darlene Garrett, a Democrat who has served on the Guilford County School Board for almost two decades, did not file for re-election in District 5. Due to the fact that no other Democrats filed, the seat is virtually assured to flip to Republican representation.
40. Politicians looking to state-level up
The Council of State races in next year’s election have attracted several local contenders. Mark Johnson, a former Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board member who is currently serving his first term as state superintendent of public instruction, is jumping into the crowded Republican primary for lieutenant governor. That race has also drawn in Mark Robinson, the Greensboro man who garnered an interview on Fox News and then a speaking slot at the National Rifle Association convention in 2018 after his viral moment addressing Greensboro City Council. Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill is making another run for state attorney general after an unsuccessful bid in 2016. Jen Mangrum, a former UNCG professor who previously challenged Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, is running for the vacant superintendent of public instruction position. Three Republicans who currently hold state office are seeking reelection: Mike Causey of Greensboro for commissioner of insurance, Steve Troxler of Browns Summit for commissioner of agriculture and Dale Folwell of Winston-Salem for treasurer.
41. Symphony board member vs. Hillary associate
Neera Tanden, a Hillary Clinton associate known as the former presidential candidate’s “anger translator,” became the object of anger herself when she received a profanity-laden email from one Peggy Hamilton, calling her a “media whore” and inviting her to perform an anatomical impossibility after her appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” in August. Hamilton, a member of the board of directors of the Greensboro Symphony, told TCB her email had been hacked.
42. The Agapion family
In 2018, civic anger in Greensboro focused on the Agapion family after five Congolese refugee children in one of their properties, at the Summit-Cone apartments, died in an accidental fire. Their unpopularity only compounded in 2019, when Mayor Nancy Vaughan held a press conference in front of one of their properties in May, accusing them of trying to rent out a house that was condemned. That month, the city announced a lawsuit against the Agapions to collect more than $700,000 in civil penalties and fines for unaddressed orders for repair. The Agapions have sold the Summit-Cone apartments, while vowing to fight the city lawsuit.
43. Sonder Mind & Body
This part-spa, part-cafe reached a year of success in the middle of downtown Greensboro, serving as an all-inclusive wellness center run by twins Jessika and Veronika Olsen. Sonder Mind & Body houses spaces that practitioners of acupuncture, massage and other techniques can rent out, along with an infrared sauna and floatation therapy pods. The adjoining Well Café & Juice Bar offers in-season and locally sourced food that avoids the most common allergens, referred to as the Big 8.
44. The Underground Railroad at Guilford College
On Feb. 9, the North Carolina Fellowship of Friends and the North Carolina Friends Historical Society held an event acknowledging the earliest known Underground Railroad activity in Guilford County. Across the street from Guilford College, at the New Garden Friends Meeting, the organizations recognized the work of Levi Coffin and Vestal Coffin, and the cousins’ contributions to helping enslaved people to freedom. The National Parks Service’s “Trail to Freedom” map also named a 350-year-old tulip poplar in the New Garden woods as a point in the Underground Railroad.
45. LGBTQ+ yoga
Multiple exercise and health programs have popped up around the Triad. Lana Skrypnyk launched one earlier this year, offering LGBTQ+-centered yoga classes that teach poses along with self-love and self-healing. Classes can be found at the Guilford Green Foundation, North Star LGBT Center, and other occasional places throughout the Triad.
46. The ‘5’ Royales get their due in east Winston-Salem
In late May, the city of Winston-Salem unveiled a historical marker honoring the 5 Royales. The group, consisting of James Moore, Obadiah Carter, John Tanner and Eugene Tanner and founder Lowman Pauling, released R&B music beginning in the 1950s. Some of their songs, such as “Help Me, Somebody” and “Dedicated to the One I Love,” found fame years after their initial release through covers by the Shirelles and the Mamas and the Papas.
47. #TravelingWhileBlack in the pre-internet era
On Jan. 9, the Greensboro History Museum spotlighted the North Carolina Green Book project. The project detailed the annual publication that detailed safe locations, from restaurants to hotels, for black Americans to stay in from 1936 through 1966. Documents link 327 sites in North Carolina to the book, as found by the state’s African American Heritage Commission.
48. Winston-Salem’s East End
One of Derwin Montgomery’s signature projects before he resigned from Winston-Salem City Council to accept appointment to the state House was the East End Master Plan, an ambitious project to direct investment towards a historically African-American area across Highway 52 from the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter through a partnership with a local community development corporation. But city council has put the project on hold at the request of Annette Scippio, the new representative of the East Ward, who would like to see the money distributed across a wider area of the ward. Despite the project’s uncertain status, new investment — and displacement of low-wealth residents — is already underway.
49. Wake Forest University’s yearbook scandal
Following revelations that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam dressed in blackface as a college student in the 1970s, Wake Forest University was among the elite schools whose yearbooks came under scrutiny. One fraternity in particular stood out for its display of racist iconography. Kappa Alpha Order, who claims General Robert E. Lee as its “spiritual founder,” posed members in front of a giant Confederate flag for its annual yearbook photo well into the 1980s. Among those who posed for the yearbook photos were Martha Allman and Kevin Pittard, respectively the dean of admissions and associate dean of admissions today; US District Court Judge Frank Whitney; and McLain Wallace, now the general counsel of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Allman, Pittard and Wallace apologized for appearing in the photos with the Confederate flag, while Whitney said he regretted taking part.
50. Proposed landfill in north Forsyth
News that a “land clearing/inert debris” landfill was proposed for Forsyth County between the Winston-Salem city limits and the town of Germanton galvanized opposition from residents of the rural area in April. But in June they celebrated when Adam Stewart, a general contractor with a grading and hauling business in Germanton, withdrew his application for the project.
51. Ashley Elementary
Ashley Elementary in northeast Winston-Salem has become the poster child for segregation in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. With more than 80 percent of students described as “economically disadvantaged,” the school consistently lands on the state’s list of failing schools. In 2017, teachers began complaining of illness due to exposure to mold. Late that year, the US Department of Education agreed to open an investigation into potential civil rights violations in response to a complaint by Action 4 Equity and other local groups. It’s unclear when the feds might complete their investigation, but in October the city of Winston-Salem agreed to sell 18 residential lots north of Cleveland Avenue Homes to the school district for a new school. Plans to replace Ashley Elementary were dropped from the 2016 school bond, but the project, estimated by Assistant Superintendent Darrell Walker to cost $20 million to $30 million, will likely be funded through the next bond referendum.
52. Kinky fitness in High Point
A new kind of fitness class, led by Candace Liger, brought new meaning to the phrase “no pain no gain.” Hosted in a spare room in High Point, the kinky fitness class incorporated elements of BDSM into a workout by tying participants up, blindfolding them, and even engaging in the occasional light spanking. “A lot of fitness clients are out of touch with their bodies,” said Liger. “Fitness and kink are both part of the self-care category.”
53. A/perture’s Street Side Cinema
This past summer, a/perture cinema in Winston-Salem launched a new project, Street Side Cinema, which aims to bring film to the masses. Using a storefront window that was previously used to screen trailers, the theater now shows a variety of short films from around the world. The program changes every couple of months and visitors are invited to sit in front of the window on one of the provided stools or stand to enjoy the films.
54. New breweries
They just keep coming. New breweries continue to open up in each of the Triad cities. In October, SouthEnd Brewing Co. took up space in the space previously occupied by Gibbs Hundred Brewing in downtown Greensboro while Oden Brewing carved out its own space a few minutes away on Gate City Boulevard in November. In Winston-Salem, two new breweries — Brouwerij DuBois and Radar Brewing — are set to open sometime in 2020, and Hoot’s has a new downtown spot on Trade Street. In High Point, Paddled South Brewing Co. will open in late 2020 and is currently looking for a brick-and-mortar location.
Before the Chicken Wars of 2019 between Popeye’s and Chik-Fil-A, a new chicken contender rocked Greensboro this past summer. Bonchon, an international chain known for its twice-fried Korean fried chicken, opened its first location in the Triad bringing with it, a different take on KFC.
56. Union Coffee
At first glance just another NYC-wannabe hipster coffee shop, Union Coffee in downtown Greensboro’s association with a conservative church revealed opinions that contrast with the shop’s hip aesthetic. TCB’s investigation found that all of the profits from the coffee shop go back to United City Greensboro, a Wesleyan church that espouses conservative views that can be described as anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality and anti-transgender. However, customers that visit the shop wouldn’t have known anything about the association between the business and the church because of the lack of signage in the shop about the relationship.
57. People’s Perk closes
After six years of serving the community, the little College Hill coffee joint the People’s Perk closed in August. Karen Archia, the owner and co-founder of the small, radical coffee shop said the decision came because of declining sales that left the venture unsustainable. “This has been a joyful and satisfying experience,” she said.
58. Morehead Foundry loan payments
Months after Morehead Foundry closed, missed loan payments totaling $375,000 by foundry co-owner Lee Comer were reported by the city. While Comer and her now-deceased partner Fareed Al-Khori had complied with investment requirements as well as minority and women-owned contractor participation requirements, the question remained as to whether the company had met the employment requirements because of the closure of the businesses in July. As of February, Comer still owed $260,000 in loan payments.
59. Elevation Church buys Gateway YWCA building
Megachurch Elevation Church’s move into Winston-Salem’s downtown YWCA location was met with some concern from the LGBTQ+ community this past summer. The church, which is based in Charlotte, bought the building that houses the Gateway YWCA and now hosts its services there weekly. A former gay Elevation Church member described discriminatory practices by the church and past members of the YWCA said they wouldn’t return because of the new relationship.
60. Greensboro sewage
More than 3.5 million gallons of untreated sewage was released in Greensboro in 2018 according to reporting by TCB. As of February, more than 21,000 gallons had been released. The increase in sewage is caused by increasing rains from hurricanes like Florence and Michael which dumped massive rainfall over the Carolinas. In November, a report by NC Health News found that the Shamrock Environmental Corp. in Greensboro released an unspecified amount of 1,4 dioxane, a likely carcinogen, into the Cape Fear River basin.
61. Gateway Education Center gets funding
One of the most contentious school board meetings of the year took place in May, when the Guilford County School Board voted to use funds allocated for career technical programs to make repairs to the Gateway Education Center, a school for children with disabilities. The use of the funds pitted parents of students at predominantly black schools which would have benefited from the addition of the new career programs with parents whose kids attend Gateway.
62. Geeksboro closes
In January, after almost seven years in business, Geeksboro closed its doors for good. Greensboro’s coffeeshop devoted to nerd culture began on Lawndale Avenue, where for six years it hosted board-game nights, “Walking Dead” watch parties, a Harry Potter ball, video-game tournaments, cosplay contests and other geeky fare. It lasted six months after moving to a new location a few blocks up the street and rebranding as Geeksboro Battle Pub. “All I wanted to do is sell chicken nuggets to nerds,” owner Joe Scott told Brian Clarey in January. “Now I’m trying to figure out why the cash register is short.”
63. Flat Iron reopens
Greensboro entrepreneur Dustin Keene, owner of Common Grounds in Lindley Park, reopened longtime downtown bar the Flat Iron, which had been closed for almost 10 years. He and his team refashioned the dive bar into a small music hall in July, and have been steadily booking local, regional and national acts.
64. Winston-Salem’s first Popeyes
Chik-fil-A’s corner on the chicken-sandwich market got more crowded this year as Popeyes introduced its version, bigger and spicier than the Chik, over the summer. They ran out in just a few days, but reloaded in time for the first Popeyes in Winston-Salesm at North Point Boulevard and University Parkway.
65. Kernol’s Donuts
40 years ago, Pha San and her family escaped genocide under the Khmer Rouge regime. Now, San is serving up fried dough confections in Winston-Salem. San opened Kernol’s Donuts in August 2017, after she invited her niece, who was making donuts in Arkansas, to help get a store off the ground in North Carolina. Hoping to ease into retirement by doing something for herself, offers traditional cake-recipe flavors like chocolate alongside fruity flavors like strawberry and raspberry. Her old-fashioned doughnuts are dense with a little bit of crunch and cracks that saturate with glaze. Fillings from classic Bavarian cream to raspberry, banana and blueberry bring life to her yeast-raised doughnuts.
66. Julian Price House
Michael and Eric Fuko-Rizzo, who bought Greensboro’s historic Julian Price Home in 2018, after it aired on an episode of the TV show “Hoarders,” wanted to turn the Fisher Park property into an Airbnb, but neighbors resisted. In November a judge ruled that the couple could turn part of the home into a short-term rental.
67. Lucha Libre
New to FantaCity shopping center is a slice of Mexican culture blended with bits of Spanish and Columbian products in the form of murals and masks depicting luchadores, Mexican wrestlers. An assortment of ice creams and popsicles — or paletas — fill the tubs and line the glass case. Fresh fried churros, mangonadas and over-the-top milkshakes make appearances on the menu. Everything in the shop comes from owner Martin Ortega’s love of food and Mexican superheroes, the luchadores.
68. NC trans clergy members spotlighted in Winston-Salem film series
The 2019 OUT at the Movies International LGBT Film Fest opened with a screening of Proper Pronouns in October. The film covered the experiences of four transgender clergy members in North Carolina. There are only about 30 openly trans clergy in the country. The film was directed by Meg Daniels, a graduate of Wake Forest University’s MFA Program.
69. Greensboro protesters hold vigils for immigrants
In July, more than 900 cities around the United States held vigils for migrant children separated from their parents and held at immigrant detention camps. Approximately 500 protesters met in Greensboro at the city’s Government Plaza as part of the nationwide disagreement with the policies carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Speakers included refugees and immigrants sharing their own stories.
70. Guilford College’s WTHell?! Con
In March, a decade long nerdy tradition continued on Guilford College’s campus — What the Hell?! Con. The Quaker campus hosts a slew of activities, like a mini art gallery, a “nerd auction,” and an Amtgard tournament, where guests can battle one another using foam swords and armor.
71. Axe-throwing comes to the Triad
Aside from mini golf or bowling, Triad residents looking for something to do can now head to anywhere Flying Hatchet sets up shop. The mobile axe-throwing lanes spring up around Pig Pounder and Dram & Draught in Greensboro, along with private events. Brick-and-mortar spaces have also popped up, with some under construction.
72. Winston-Salem Confederate monument
It began with a vandal defacing the base of the Confederate monument in downtown Winston-Salem with the words “cowards & traitors” on Christmas Day, 2017. On New Year’s Eve, City Attorney Angela Carmon sent a letter to the United Daughters of the Confederacy demanding that the group remove the monument or face legal action. Following dueling rallies in downtown, the city declared the monument to be a public nuisance, and on March 12 work crews removed the monument as supporters and opponents watched. The city of Winston-Salem became the first local government to remove a Confederate monument since the passage of a 2015 law written to protect “objects of remembrance,” although the circumstances in Winston-Salem were unique because the ground where the monument was located is owned by a private developer.
73. Mandatory black studies
An intensive effort by activists in Winston-Salem get a mandatory black studies class in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools went down in flames in October when seven out of eight members, including the new African-American chair, voted against the proposal. Instead, the board supported a proposal by Superintendent Angela Hairston ensuring that African-American studies, Latin American studies and Native American studies courses offered at full credit are available to all high school students.
74. Dixie Classic Fair retired
Only a month after the city of Winston-Salem took down the Confederate monument, Bishop Sir Walter Mack Jr. brought a request to city council to rename Dixie Classic Fair. The city hosted a heated public input meeting at the Education Building at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds, where people in favor of keeping the name outnumbered those who wanted to ditch it. Ultimately, city council members acknowledged they erred by delegating the decision to an appointed committee, and voted 5 to 2 in August to retire the name Dixie Classic Fair. The new name, beginning in 2020, will be Carolina Classic Fair.
75. United Youth Care Services and Ready 4 Change
Two drug treatment programs in Greensboro came under scrutiny in 2019 after clients came forward stating that they were coached to lie or exaggerate their substance use so they could access housing, allowing the nonprofits to fraudulently bill Medicaid. Following investigative reports by TCB and the News & Record, state regulators issued scathing reports on United Youth Care Services and Ready 4 Change, while citing them for “serious exploitation.” Ready 4 Change incurred a fine of $6,000, while United Youth Care Services was fined $3,000. Both agencies received notification that the Department of Health and Human Services intends to revoke their licenses, and were ordered to stop admitting new clients. Both agencies are appealing the decisions. Ready 4 Change has a hearing in Raleigh on Jan. 27, while United Youth Care Service’s hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24.
76. Cure Violence
After years of discussion, Greensboro City Council voted in October to approve a $500,000 allocation for Cure Violence, a program that applies a public-health model by deploying “interrupters” to mediate conflicts and head off violence. Ingram Bell, herself a victim of violence, had been working informally with a group called Gate City Guardians for 18 months without funding. When city council approved funding, it also agreed to contract with a local nonprofit, One Step Further, that is headed by Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson (Johnson abstained from the vote). While Bell initially planned to work separately from the city, she ultimately decided to serve as the site coordinator for the project.
77. Bowhunting in Winston-Salem
It was an interesting idea. Carolyn Fay, a retired costume designer in the dance department at UNC School of the Arts, found that her garden in southwest Winston-Salem was getting ravaged by deer, and wondered if a bowhunting season might be the solution to the problem. She found an enthusiastic backer in Councilman James Taylor, who chairs the public safety committee. Taylor reasoned that people who were annexed into the city in recent years might appreciate the opportunity to hunt. Councilwoman DD Adams also embraced the idea, suggesting that venison harvested by hunters could feed people experiencing homelessness, and vowing to take bowhunting lessons.
78. Guilford County Sheriff’s office
Virtually from the moment Danny Rogers took over the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, his agency was beset by personnel upheaval. Catherine Netter, whom Rogers appointed to serve as his executive administrative officer, had sued the previous administration for employment discrimination, but a panel of federal judges also found that she committed a misdemeanor by improperly accessing other employees’ personnel files to make her case. Edward Melvin, appointed second in command as chief deputy, resigned scarcely two months into the job. And in July, Netter and Max Benbassat — a public information officer who had worked on Rogers’ campaign — also resigned.
79. Black Panther Party
The Winston-Salem Black Panther Party’s 50th year celebration in October was a bittersweet affair. Lee Faye Mack, known as the “mother” of the party, passed away in April, and Larry Little, founder of the Winston-Salem chapter, has experienced health challenges in recent years. But Little, an associate professor of political science at Winston-Salem State University and former city council member, worked frantically to organize the anniversary celebration. The weeklong celebration included a screening of recently recovered video footage by Duane Jackson of the struggle to free Joan Little, a black woman who was acquitted in 1975 of murder for the death of a white jailer who sexually assaulted her. The anniversary activities also included a panel by the High Point 4, including Pastor Brad Lilley, who talked about their experience in a 1971 shootout when the police evicted them from their headquarters.
80. BH Media lawsuit
BH Media Group, the owner of the News & Record, found itself on the receiving end of a federal lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Pay Act and employment discrimination based on race and gender, along with sexual harassment, from Gayla Price, a former advertising key account executive, in 2019. Price, who now works for Triad City Beat as a key accounts executive, left her job at the N&R in 2017 after another employee exposed his genitals to her. The lawsuit contends that women in advertising sales positions “were paid less than male advertising sales employees for performing substantially equivalent work” and that “Berkshire Hathaway — from the top all the way down to its media properties — has a male-dominated corporate culture ingrained with sexual harassment, dirty jokes and inappropriate commentary about females.” BH Media Group denies the allegations.
81. $120,000 banana
What is art? That’s the question that was brought up again and again when discussing the phenomenon that is the $120,000 banana duct-taped to a wall that sold at Art Basel Miami this year. While the piece was exhibited and sold hundreds of miles away from the Triad, associate editor Sayaka Matsuoka had the unfortunate privilege of witnessing the piece in person when she was on vacation in Miami during the art show. “Because of how much attention and thought we’ve put into this banana on a wall, that’s what makes it art — it’s our own fault,” Matsuoka writes.
82. Meatless burgers
Capitalizing on the hype that is the plant-based burger, several Triad locations added meatless alternatives to their menus in 2019. One of the most popular brands, Impossible Burger, showed up in places like Big Burger Spot, various Burger King locations and Char Bar 7 in Greensboro and Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem to name a few. Several places also serve the Beyond Burger, the other popular alternative.
83. Abortion in the Triad
A months-long investigation into the landscape of abortion access in the Triad revealed that abortion escorts and patients are grossly outnumbered by anti-abortion protesters at clinics. The piece, which relied on interviews with patients, volunteers and protesters, focused on A Woman’s Choice in Greensboro, the only abortion clinic in the city. Hundreds of protesters show up at the clinic every weekend, some to pray, while others directly speak to and try to influence patients’ decisions. The piece also revealed the inner workings of a Greensboro crisis pregnancy center which acts to redirect women seeking abortions into its facility and convince them otherwise.
84. Greensboro Massacre 40th anniversary
2019 marked four decades since the deadly events of the Greensboro Massacre, in which members of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party opened fire on members of the Communist Workers’ Party in Greensboro, killing five. The event, which was overshadowed in national media by the Iran hostage crisis, remains relevant in the community today, as was evidenced by the series of events which commemorated the anniversary. Those who survived the massacre held vigils, workshop and prayers in remembrance.
85. Glass recycling eliminated in Greensboro
In June, the city of Greensboro made the decision to stop glass collection in its curbside recycling bins. The move reflected shifts in the international recycling market, in which China, the main consumer of the world’s recycling, announced cut backs on their intake in 2018. This caused higher costs for recycling companies like Republic Services, which contracts with the city of Greensboro. Since then, the city has opened up a number of glass recycling drop-off locations. Winston-Salem and High Point continue to collect glass.
86. School board allows for short-term suspensions appeals
In a close vote in November, the Guilford County School Board voted to allow students and parents to appeal short-term suspensions up the chain of command to the superintendent’s office. The issue, which proved to be contentious, brought forth several speakers to school board meetings who expressed both strong support and opposition to the proposal. Those in support argued that the proposal allowed for greater due process while those opposed said it undermined principals’ authority. In the end, the board voted 5-4 in favor.
Early in the fall, after an anonymous graffito threw hastily scrawled visages of old-school Bart Simpson on some of Winston-Salem’s most visible walls, the Camel City culturati went nuts for Bartsy — both the name of the art and the artist. Weird bar Monstercade even reserved a space for the artist on its mural wall. TCB and photographer Jerry Cooper created an interactive map of all the locations, which an angry reader then used to go around town and deface all the Bartsys.
88. Wake Forest and Aggie football
The Demon Deacons finished a spectacular football season at 8-4, at just fourth place in the ACC, but big wins over Rice, Utah State, Carolina and Boston College dropped it into the Top 25 for a few heady weeks. They’ll play Michigan State in the Pinstripe Bowl on Friday. Meanwhile the Aggies finished in Second Place in the MEAC with a perfect 5-0 record at home. They faced Alcorn State in the Celebration Bowl last Saturday, winning the contest 66-44, their fourth Celebration Bowl victory.
89. High Point Rockers
High Point’s new stadium received its first tenants — the Rockers — on May 2. But the big story on opening day was the mangling of the National Anthem by a staffer after the scheduled performer did not show. A video of the episode went viral after Deadspin filed a report on it, making it the most successful launch of a Triad baseball team, in terms of penetration, in history.
90. The never-ending legislative session
Hung up on debates about budget, a stalemate between both Houses and the executive branch, the General Assembly slowed to a crawl, albeit an excruciatingly long one. Technically, the session has not yet ended due to disagreements on the budget, specifically Medicaid expansion, and other issues. They’re set to start the next session, though, in January.
91. Sexual Chocolate gets less sexy, chocolate
Foothills Brewing unveiled a new label design for its signature Sexual Chocolate stout. The old design — a sensual portrait of a beautiful black woman in a halter top with her eyes closed — caused some outcry among critics who noted that the predominantly white, male-owned brewery was using the sexuality of black women to sell beer to other white guys. The new label sees two forms rising from the foam of a beer glass that look a little like two white women making out.
92. Wise Man Brewing wins American Beer Award
Wise Man Brewing in Winston-Salem was the only Triad brewery to medal at the Great American Beer Festival, taking home gold in the Irish Red category for its Outraged Daughters ale.
93. Machete moves into Crafted’s LoFi space
Crafted Chef Kris Fuller handed over the keys of her Street Food space in LoFi — an Andy Zimmerman building shared by Preyer Brewing — to new restaurant upstart Machete. Machete which began as a private supper club, had been looking for a brick-and-mortar location for a year. Owners Tal Blevins, Kevin Cottrell and Lydia Greene say they’ll open in January.
94. NC Folk Fest grows
After the National Folk festival ended its three-year run in downtown Greensboro, government arts money and corporate sponsors stepped up to make the NC Folk Festival. This year’s event in September saw Booker T. Jones, the North Mississippi Allstars, the Zinc Kings and dozens of other local regional acts take over downtown streets, earning an increase in estimated attendance of 15 percent from the inaugural year.
95. Frida Kahlo mural
One of our most read articles of the year, associate editor Sayaka Matsuoka’s takedown of the short-lived Frida Kahlo mural that appeared on the side of a firearms dealership in Greensboro is a rare example of when journalism produces concrete results. Local Greensboro muralist Brian Lewis, otherwise known as Jeks, had been commissioned by local developer Marty Kotis to create Kahlo’s “likeness.” However, instead of portraying a full portrait of the artist, Lewis had depicted an image of Kahlo’s head superimposed onto the body of a fit, white woman. Matsuoka’s piece explained the history of the fetishization of women of color as well as the misrepresentation and erasure of Kahlo’s own complicated history with her disabled body in 500 words. One day later, the mural was edited by Lewis who said he was giving the original model “her body back.”
96. An opening in the 6th Congressional District
The redrawing of the 6th Congressional District, which covers all of Guilford County and the Winston-Salem portion of Forsyth, prompted a scramble among areas Democrats looking for a shot at a seat in Congress. Among the first to file were Kathy Manning of Greensboro and Bruce Davis of High Point, the Democratic nominees for the 13th Congressional District in 2018 and 2016, respectively. The race has also attracted Winston-Salem pols Derwin Montgomery and Ed Hanes Jr., the current and former representatives of House District 72, along with Rhonda Foxx of Greensboro.
The 2019 Greatest Homecoming on Earth saw the Aggies defeat Howard University 64-6 as alumnis, students and fans took over the east side of Greensboro. Nikki Miller-Ka tackled the subject by exploring the fish plate, an ubiquitous tailgate item. While the fish fry is not a uniquely black experience, fish was easy to obtain, cook and utilize as a fundraiser for churches, schools, civic organizations and other small enterprises. On the surface, the fish fry is a simple gathering exalting the joy of fried fish. Doused with hot sauce, next to slices of white bread alongside various side dishes, the tradition has deep roots, and special meaning at GHOE.
98. The National Black Theatre Festival 2019
Winston-Salem foodie Algenon Cash implored downtown restaurants to say open late during this summer’s NBTF, which draws thousands of festival-goers, performance-arts companies, celebrities and fans — and there is always a call for late-night eats as well as a swell of casual, and fine-dining options. There was a call for eateries to stay open past 10 pm and some places offered special menus and late-night bites to draw customers in.
99. Lobster-roll summer
2019 was the summer of the lobster roll. You can find lobster rolls on a few menus here and there, like at Stumble Stilskins in Greensboro but year-round area eats include Pier Oyster Bar and Grille in Greensboro; King’s Crab Shack, Katharine Brasserie in Winston-Salem; and Lobster Dogs food truck, which parks all over the Triad. Lobster Dogs is a new favorite. Salt, pepper, a secret blend of seasonings and drizzled with melted butter, this simple preparation seems to be the way to go. Nearly six years ago, Chris Yelton of Mooresville started the Lobster Dogs food truck. Now he’s selling more than 300 lobster, crab and shrimp rolls out of two trucks each day.
100. World Irish Dance Championships
The 2019 World Irish Dance Championship drew contestants from all over the world to the Greensboro Coliseum. Photographer Todd Turner caught most of the action for an April photo gallery.