La'Raven Taylor

On Second Thought Producer

La'Raven was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, so she’s no stranger to the south. La'Raven developed a passion for storytelling at a very young age. She became a features editor on her high school’s newspaper staff and an anchor on the school’s station. She graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a degree in journalism. She started working as an associate producer for WLBT in Jackson, MS. There, she worked her way up to become a senior producer. She also did some reporting. La'Raven is a member of NABJ and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She loves reading, traveling and spending time with her family. She lives by the quote: “I think, therefore I am” by Descartes.

Courtesy of Cherry Blossom Festival, Macon

"On Second Thought" kicked off the first day of spring with a preview of events happening around Georgia.

Theater critic and Arts ATL contributor, Kelundra Smith, shared her picks for seasonal shows, festivals and events. 


State officials say more than 100,000 service members from Georgia were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2012. Nationally, about 20 percent of veterans coming back from those conflicts have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries. Alchemy Sky Foundation is an Atlanta organization that helps people heal through music. It recently worked with a group of metro Atlanta veterans to create a song called "Adjust Fire." 


Courtesy of Alchemy Sky Foundation

State officials say more than 100,000 service members from Georgia were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2012. Nationally, about 20 percent of veterans coming back from those conflicts have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

Alchemy Sky Foundation is an Atlanta organization that helps people heal through music. It recently worked with a group of metro Atlanta veterans to create a song called "Adjust Fire." 


Courtesy of AP Images

It takes about a decade to grow a productive pecan tree and a matter of minutes to take one down. A University of Georgia specialist estimates Hurricane Michael's 100 mph winds left 75 percent of pecan crops unharvestable in several south Georgia counties. UGA also estimates a total of $2 billion in losses to the state's agriculture industry.

Five months after the storm, many farmers are still picking up the pieces. "On Second Thought" has been following up with growers ever since the storm. Randy Hudson's family has run Hudson Pecan Company in Irwin County for more than 150 years. Rob Cohen owns Pecan Ridge Plantation in Decatur County. He's been in the family business for several decades. Cohen and Hudson gave updates on their crops as a new season begins.


It takes about a decade to grow a productive pecan tree, but only a matter of minutes to take one down. Five months after the storm, a University of Georgia specialist estimates that Hurricane Michael left 75 percent of pecan crops unviable in several south Georgia counties. Combined losses in the state's agricultural sector run around $2.5 billion. 


It's hard enough to eat well and stay in shape, but, in several parts of Georgia, residents don't even have access to nutritious foods.  The Georgia Farmers Market Association is trying to bring awareness to the issue and help overcome barriers to access. Its initiatives connect small growers with communities that don't have good options to buy fresh, high-quality meat and produce. 


We're in the final weeks of the 2019 legislative session, and lawmakers are not going out quietly. They're debating changes to Georgia's abortion laws. House Bill 481, otherwise known as the "heartbeat" bill, already passed the House last week. Republican Rep. Ed Setzler of Acworth, the bill's sponsor, says he aims to prevent doctors from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. 

GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler and "Lawmakers" Capitol correspondent Donna Lowry stopped by "On Second Thought" with an update on that legislation and other bills making their way through the Gold Dome.


Caroline Ervin and Cristen Conger made a splash with their How Stuff Works podcast “Stuff Mom Never Told You.”  Now, the Georgia duo has transitioned to entrepreneurship with a company called Unladylike Media.  The two host a weekly, feminist podcast that shares their company’s name.  Caroline says it’s, “where we investigate what happens when women break the rules.” Along with the podcast, they also have a book out called, “Unladylike: A Field Guide to Smashing the Patriarchy and Claiming Your Space.” Caroline and Cristen talked feminism and journalism with “On Second Thought” host Virginia Prescott.

 

Courtesy of Big Fibbers Storytelling Festival

The truth never gets in the way of a good story at the Big Fibbers Storytelling Festival in Rome. Comedians, fabulists and tellers of tall tales from all over will gather there Friday. 

Among the unreliable narrators is comedian and storyteller Andy Offutt Irwin. Irwin is a featured fibber at this year's event. He spoke with "On Second Thought" host Virginia Prescott about the character he will portray at the festival. 


Daylight saving time is behind us, and spring is just around the corner. To celebrate, "On Second Thought" is reflecting on a Southern icon: The Quercus virginiana is Georgia's official tree. It's better known as the live oak tree and has held the title since 1937.

These majestic, ancient trees are symbols of the South in postcards, films and online travel sites. Greg Levine, co-executive director and chief program officer at Trees Atlanta, stopped by the show to explain the history and nature of live oak trees. 


Courtesy of AP Images

Daylight saving time is behind us, and spring is just around the corner. To celebrate, "On Second Thought" is reflecting on a Southern icon: The Quercus virginiana is Georgia's official tree. It's better known as the live oak tree and has held the title since 1937. 

These majestic, ancient trees are symbols of the South in postcards, films and online travel sites. Greg Levine from Trees Atlanta stopped by the show to explain the history and nature of live oak trees. 


Courtesy of AP Images

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Georgia has the highest rate of new Human Immunodeficiency Viruses (HIV) infections proportionate to population. The problem is especially severe in metro Atlanta. 

President Trump is proposing $291 million in funding to end HIV transmissions in the United States by 2030. "On Second Thought" wanted to know how realistic this goal was, so Dr. Carlos del Rio from the Emory School of Public Health joined the show to discuss the initiative and how it affects Georgia. 


Eighteen miles of I-85 could be an on-ramp to the future. The Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway, or The Ray, stretches from West Point to LaGrange. Named for a carpet manufacturer once called the "greenest CEO," The Ray is now a proving ground for technologies that could make infrastructure safer and more ecologically sustainable. So, how would it work? We asked Allie Kelly, executive director of The Ray.


On today's show, GPB reporters recapped events from crossover day at the Capitol, "Macon Conversations" addressed issues of identity, and the Dining for Women founder helped preview GPB's International Women's Day Panel.

During crossover day, bills must be clear of one chamber or the other to remain in play for the rest of the legislative session. Both chambers passed a wave of legislation by the deadline, including a "heartbeat" abortion bill. GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler and Capitol correspondent for GPB TV's "Lawmakers," Donna Lowry, joined "On Second Thought" to discuss this week in Georgia politics.

Women's educational opportunities in the 19th Century were few and far between. Finishing schools focused on women's socialization and skills like art, music and French, rather than a rigorous academic curriculum.

The Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens aimed to change that. It opened in 1859 and taught women finishing school skills alongside math and science classes. The institute cemented Athens as a place for women's education in the South.

 


AP Photo

Many people will pay for Beyoncé concert tickets, but what about paying for a Beyoncé class for credit?

A group of college students at Valdosta State University is studying the work of "Queen Bey" this semester. The focus is on "Lemonade," the mega-star's sixth studio album accompanied by a visual album on HBO.

Caterina Orr is adjunct instructor of African-American studies at Valdosta State. She spoke with "On Second Thought" host Virginia Prescott about the course that kicked off this semester.


Last week, the governing body of the United Methodist Church voted to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage and openly gay clergy.  The “Traditional Plan” won by a narrow margin at the annual meeting of the General Conference.  It defeated the “One Church Plan,” which would have allowed local congregations to make their own decisions on LGBT issues.

Dean of the Emory’s Candler School of Theology, Jan Love, was at the conference.  The school is one of thirteen Methodist seminaries in the country. During “On Second Thought,” Dean Love explored the implications of the vote here in Georgia.

 


A tornado whipped through Southeast Alabama Sunday evening along the Georgia border, causing injuries and property damage through both states. Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in Grady, Harris and Talbot counties on Monday due to storm damage. The Lee County sheriff said 23 people have died thus far in the Alabama county where the tornado touched down.

GPB's Grant Blankenship joined "On Second Thought" to discuss his reporting on the storm's impact in Georgia. He said affected areas in Georgia are some of the same ones still recovering from Hurricane Michael.

 


Courtesy of BlackGirlsGolf.net

When Althea Gibson became the first black woman to play in the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1963, she defied discriminatory norms. Segregation at golf courses was common, and white men dominated the sport of golf. 

Today, 90 percent of golfers are still men, and most of them are white. That can have economic implications for minorities and women since golf courses are known as common places for networking and business deals. 


Courtesy of Aaron Paul Zimmer

As the Savannah Stopover Music Festival heads into its ninth year, one featured artist won't have to travel far to attend. Singer-songwriter Aaron Paul Zimmer calls Savannah home. 

Zimmer stopped by the GPB Savannah bureau to speak with "On Second Thought" host Virginia Prescott about his new solo album, "Saints and Heretics." 


This week in Georgia politics involved the ongoing discussion over House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and calls for his resignation, Gov. Kemp's Medicaid waiver plan and possible state control of Atlanta's airport.

GPB reporter Stephen Fowler joined "On Second Thought" to discuss the Georgia legislature and Crossover Day, the last day bills have to pass out of one chamber or the other in order to be considered during the session.

 


Hip-hop has evolved from the streets of New York in the '70s to become the most popular music genre today, but it hasn't always been "evolved" in representing women. It's often singled out as being harmful or degrading to women. 

A recent study from Georgia State University looked at political rap music's influence on black feminist attitudes. The results may surprise you.


Courtesy of AP Images

Hip-hop has evolved from the streets of New York in the '70s to become the most popular music genre today, but it hasn't always been "evolved" in representing women. It's often singled out as being harmful or degrading to women. 

A recent study from Georgia State University looked at political rap music's influence on black feminist attitudes. The results may surprise you. 


Southern accents are inexplicably linked to a sense of culture, identity and community. They can also summon stereotypes about intelligence and education, something writer Laura Relyea found when her family moved from Charlotte to Chicago when she was young.

Relyea explored her relationship to her own North Carolina drawl on a recent episode of "The Bitter Southerner Podcast." Her story of losing and finding her way back to her accent resonated with listeners all over Georgia. She joined "On Second Thought" to discuss how accents form a pillar of Southern identity.

 


courtesy of Charlie Watts

It's hard to tell when, but the "what" is clear: everyone and everything that lives will someday die.  Many of us banish thoughts of the inevitable from our minds. That's not the case for Tim McDonough. The veteran actor and now retired artistic director at Emory University Theater has written a series of monologues about mortality.

McDonough visited "On Second Thought" to speak about his one-man show, "A Bunch of Different Ways I'd Like To Die."


Georgia is one of five states without a hate crimes law on the books; however, legislation proposed last week could change that.  Sponsored by State Rep. Chuck Efstration, a Gwinnett Republican, House Bill 426 would introduce enhanced penalties for hate crimes if signed into law. According to the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 27 such crimes were reported in 2017. 

 A similar bill didn’t make it out of committee last year, despite wide support from law enforcement. We spoke with that bill's sponsor, former State Rep. Meagan Hanson, about why that legislation was a priority for her. Rachel Glickhouse, partner manager for ProPublica's Documenting Hate project, also joined the conversation. 


This week in Georgia politics was all about the state's voting system. Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) filed a bill that proposed changing the voting machines from touchscreens to a new ballot-marking device. The bill also suggests changes to absentee ballots and voter registration.

GPB's Stephen Fowler stopped by "On Second Thought" to discuss the voting changes.

 


La'Raven Taylor/GPB

The Super Soaker toy gun was on the top of nearly every kid's wish list in the '90s, and it made summer heat a literal blast. The game-changing toy has racked up more than $1-billion in sales. It was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2015. 

The man who invented the Super Soaker is Lonnie Johnson. While the toy water gun may be Johnson's most widely known invention among consumers, he has made contributions to the world of nuclear and mechanical engineering far beyond pump action toy. 


Dr. Curtis L. Jones Jr. is the second superintendent from Georgia since 2015 to win the national honor. He spoke with "On Second Thought" about the honor and reflected on how, in a relatively short time, he has rebuilt trust with the community, improved student success and created a positive culture for teachers and staff.

He also shared his priorities for the future of education in Georgia.

 


In 1832, playwright and peformer Thomas Dartmouth Rice used theatrical make-up to create a supposedly black character. The character's name was Jim Crow. That name later came to represent a system of extra-judicial terror and racial segregation laws that ended in 1965, but the recent political crisis in Virginia shows dressing up in blackface did not.

A poll published by "The Washington Post" has Virginians split over whether Gov. Ralph Northam should resign after a photo from his 1984 Medical School yearbook surfaced. It shows a character in blackface next to a person wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. Last week, a Pew Research Center poll found about 34 percent of all Americans say, "Dressing up in blackface is always or sometimes acceptable for a Halloween costume." 

 


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