Elena Rivera

On Second Thought Producer

Elena Rivera is a producer for "On Second Thought." Before coming to GPB, she worked for KBIA in Columbia, Missouri, as a producer for the weekly community issues show "Intersection." She also anchored the morning newscast and reported on arts and entertainment, education and mental health for the station.

She has won awards from the Missouri Broadcast Association and the Kansas City Press Club for her production and presentation of the morning news, in addition to her arts and entertainment reporting.

She is originally from Rochester, New York, and graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

gay pride parade georgia lgbtq
Gee Double You / Flickr

Most American cities celebrate LGBTQ Pride in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. In 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in New York's Greenwich Village. The raid led to organizing and demonstrations by activists like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

 

Atlanta and Savannah both celebrate pride in October, which is national LGBTQ history month. We spoke with Jamie Fergerson, executive director of the Atlanta Pride Committee, and Dusty Church, festival director for Savannah Pride. They discussed the past, present, and future of pride in Georgia.

 


Jim Crow laws gave rise to horrific violence, humilitation and race-based terror, which makes "The Burning House: Jim Crow and the Making of Modern America," a new examination of segregation as a means of protecting African-American culture all the more provocative. 


Josephine Bennett/GPB News

Florida and Georgia are left picking up the pieces following Hurricane Michael.

The storm claimed the lives of at least 11 people, including an 11-year old girl old girl who died after a tree fell on her home in Seminole County. Michael also has left damages amounting to billions of dollars, which will affect Georgia's agriculture activities. Utility crews around the state were still working to restore power to thousands on Friday.


Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Florida on Wednesday. The hurricane is expected to hit the northeastern coast of Georgia and continue through the southwest and center of the state, according to the National Weather Service. We spoke with Marshall Shepherd, the program director for atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia, about tracking the hurricane over the week and how meterologists convey the severity of storms. We also spoke with Gwen Cooper, an author and pet rescue expert about what to do with pets during extreme weather.


A new oral history project reaches back over the decades for stories of black queer people in Atlanta. It highlights shifting sites of connectedness across the city.

Ashley Coleman Taylor is the principle investigator for the oral history project as well as an instructor of women's studies at Agnes Scott College. She spoke about the importance of centering black queer stories in Atlanta. We also spoke with Rev. Duncan Teague, from Abundant LUUv Unitarian Universalist Church, who worked with Taylor on the project.


Georgia has the seventh highest rate of uninsured children in the country. The problem is especially severe in low-income communities. The report from Voices of Georgia's Children shows 80 percent of Georgia children who were eligible for medicaid or Peachcare in 2016 weren't enrolled. Virginia Prescott spoke with executive director from Voices of Georgia's Children, Erica Sitkoff, and editor of Georgia Health News, Andy Miller, about the barriers Georgians face.


There aren't many African-American males who play lead roles in superhero or Sci-Fi films. 

Jessica Handler

Jessica Handler is author of "Braving The Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Invisible Sisters: A Memoir." Handler gave her list of favorite southern books. Her forthcoming novel, "Magnetic Girl" will be available in 2019.


Brandon Bush/Twitter

Now we add some more songs to our essential Georgia playlist from Brandon Bush. We ask artists to pick two songs written or performed by another Georgian that best represent the state.

Brandon Bush is a member of Train and a studio musician who worked on songs by John Mayer and Sugarland.

 


Myles Truitt/Twitter

There aren't many African-American males who play lead roles in superhero or Sci-Fi films. Earlier this year, we got a taste of representation in "Black Panther." The movie made more than $1 billion in less than a month. "Kin" is a new Sci-fi film, starring a young black man.


The U.S. Senate plans to vote this Friday on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Given his record, predictions are that Kavanaugh will shift the court to a conservative majority. That got us wondering about what cases are on the docket for the term that began on Monday. We spoke with Fred Smith, Jr. about cases to watch during the 2018-2019 term. Smith is an associate professor of law at Emory University School of Law.

Next Monday, public schools and state offices across Georgia close to mark Columbus Day. Five states, more than 50 cities and dozens of universities no longer observe the federal holiday. Most instead celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. After a unanimous vote this summer, South Fulton became the first city in Georgia to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. On Second Thought’s Virginia Prescott spoke with Mayor Pro Tem Mark Baker about the ctiy's new holiday. 

Lisa Yaszek, professor of science fiction studies, in front of a bookshelf seated at a table.
Rob Felt / Georgia Tech

Women have historically been erased from science fiction storytelling, but Lisa Yaszek is working to change that. Her new anthology “The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin” showcases female pioneers in the genre since the 1920s.

We spoke with Yaszek, who is a professor of science fiction studies at Georgia Tech, about how women have shaped our understanding of technology and identity.

The FBI is currently investigating allegations of sexual assault made against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Tens of millions of Americans watched testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Responses to the hearings and the #MeToo Movement make clear sexual violence is something that must be addressed in the public sphere. We spoke with University of Georgia psychology professor Isha Metzger and Sally Sheppard, executive director of The Cottage, a sexual assault center and children's advocacy center. We discussed how we talk about sexual assault in our communities. 


The ongoing debate over so-called religious freedom laws recently surfaced in the Georgia gubernatorial race. Democrat Stacey Abrams told a group in Savannah the law is unnecessary -- and could prevent prospective employers from setting up shop in Georgia. Meanwhile, Republican rival Brian Kemp has pledged to sign a religious protection law. That got us thinking about the nature of laws on Georgia’s books. We learn about some curious and outdated ones.

Art Georgia Gallery
Jessica Caldas

Some survivors of sexual assault have chosen to tell their stories through creative mediums. Jessica Caldas is an Atlanta-based artist and activist who tells women’s stories through her artwork. She wants her art to create space for her audience to have difficult conversations about trauma and healing.

We spoke with Caldas about the role of art in processing her own sexual assault.

Christine Blasey Ford
Associated Press

The FBI is currently investigating allegations of sexual assault made against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Tens of millions of Americans watched testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.

Responses to the hearings and the #MeToo Movement make clear sexual violence is something that must be addressed in the public sphere. We spoke with University of Georgia psychology professor Isha Metzger and Sally Sheppard, executive director of The Cottage, a sexual assault center and children's advocacy center. We discussed how we talk about sexual assault in our communities.


Flickr

Christina Ham's play "Nina Simone: Four Women" follows the activism and creative legacy of the fiercely talented Nina Simone.

 

The woman known as "The High Priestess of Soul" aspired to be America's first black classical pianist, and left a lasting impression on music that resonates today.

 

We spoke with director Michele Shay and actors Adrienne Reynolds, Wendy Fox-Williams, Jordan Frazier, and Regina Marie Williams on the way the characters each represent a different aspect of Simone's life.

 


There are a lot of film and television projects being produced right now in Georgia. We got a rundown of some of what’s in production from Kalena Boller. She works as a location manager in Georgia’s film industry. She also gave us a preview of her upcoming GPB podcast, "The Credits." It focuses on the stories of the people who work behind the scenes.

 

GPB

The federal Farm Bill making its way through Congress could dramatically reduce the availability of free school meals. Those meals offer significant help for the nearly 20 percent of Georgia households with children that struggle to afford quality food for their families, according to the Food Research and Action Center. So many students qualify for the free meal program in Macon's Bibb County School District that free breakfast and lunch are available district-wide. To put that in perspective, the district served 18,000 lunches last year alone. 

Amy Ray, left, standing with producer Elena Rivera, right.
Sean Powers / GPB News

Now we add some more songs to our essential Georgia playlist from Amy Ray. We ask artists to pick two songs written or performed by another Georgian that best represent the state.

Amy Ray is part of the seminal folk group Indigo Girls. Her sixth solo studio album, "Holler," is out this Friday.


GPB

The Fair Housing Act is 50 years old this year. Former President Lyndon Johnson implemented this landmark piece of civil rights legislation days after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. King often said housing was a key victory in the struggle for African-American equity in the United States. 


Ross Terrell / GPB News

The Fair Housing Act is 50 years old this year. Former President Lyndon Johnson implemented this landmark piece of civil rights legislation days after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. King often said housing was a key victory in the struggle for African-American equity in the United States.

We spoke with Dan Immergluck, a professor in the Urban Studies Institute at Georgia State University. He discussed how legislation from 50 years ago shaped how housing in Georgia functions today.


GPB

On today's "On Second Thought," we revisited a few of the conversations that have lingered in our minds this week. Jonathan Merritt told us why he stopped having conversations about faith after leaving Georgia behind for New York, and how he is reconceptualizing religious language for a new era. We also heard from filmmaker Stefan Forbes about Lee Atwater and the Southern strategy. On Second Thought's Virginia Prescott also took the show on the road to Athens, Georgia, where she snacked on edible insects with University of Georgia entomologist Marianne Shockley. Need a palate cleanser after that? Virginia visited Atlanta-based Chef Todd Richards for a BLT breakfast sandwich with collard greens. 


GPB

Five years ago, Jonathan Merritt moved from Buford to Brooklyn, New York. Almost immediately, Merritt found he couldn't communicate with the people around him. It was not that they spoke a different language, but rather that Southern Baptist preacher's son — and Emory-educated Master of Divinity — felt unable to have the conversations about faith and spirituality that he had always had in his hometown. Merritt set out to find out if other people in the United States were avoiding conversations about religion. 


Boston Public Library / Flickr

In an episode of "Meet the Press" in April 1960, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said he thought it was one of the most "shameful tragedies of our nation that 11 o'clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours in Christian America."

Nearly 60 years later, a pair of church leaders in Macon observed that not much had changed. The New Georgia Encyclopedia states Macon is home to more churches than any other city in the American South.

GPB recorded a conversation between Rev. Dr. Jake Hall of Highland Hills Baptist Church and Rev. Dominique Johnson of Kingdom Life, Inc. for the series "Macon Conversations." In this excerpt, they discussed finding common ground between white people and people of color in their congregations.


GPB

Today, "On Second Thought" took a scan of the state.

We spoke with NPR political reporter Asma Khalid about low voter turnout, and heard from some of the Georgians she met in Houston, Cobb and Hancock counties.

GPB's own Emily Jones also joined from Savannah with a story about alligators in the Okefenokee swamp, and "On Second Thought" host Virginia Prescott munched on some edible bugs with University of Georgia entomologist Marianne Shockley.

We also caught up with John T. Edge of the Southern Foodways Alliance. His new series, "TrueSouth," debuts on SEC Network tonight. Chef Todd Richards also told us about his favorite Southern ingredient: collard greens. 

EatingInsectsAthens.com

A bug in your food is not usually considered a good thing, but what if it was there on purpose?

The United Nations reports around two billion people include insects in their daily diet. Companies like Chirp Chips and Chapul are making bugs a snacking option in the United States. In Georgia, mealworms and crickets top the list of commonly consumed insects.

We spoke with entomologist Marianne Shockley who researches edible insects at the University of Georgia.


GPB

Is Georgia turning blue? That question came up in 2014 when Jason Carter ran for governor, in 2016 when Hillary Clinton ran for president and in 2017 with Jon Ossoff’s campaign in the most expensive House race in history. Every time, however, Georgia remained a red state where Republicans won. 


Grant Blankenship/GPB

Changing voter demographics and the national rise of female candidates have led to speculation that Georgia will turn blue in the November elections. We’re exploring the likelihood of this shift as well as Georgia’s role in the upcoming national elections in 2020.


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