LaRaven Taylor

On Second Thought Producer

LaRaven was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, so she’s no stranger to the south. LaRaven 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. LaRaven 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.

The face of local news in Macon, Georgia, is changing. After nearly four decades, Friday is Oby Brown's last day at The Telegraph in Macon. Brown's departure comes amid what another outgoing editor called a "transformation" of the newspaper. Brown joined us in the studio to discuss the way local news is changing and reflect on his longtime career covering the news in middle Georgia. 

Georgia Gilmore of Montgomery, Alabama, was an unsung hero of the civil rights movement. In Montgomery, Gilmore cooked for Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders. She also organized a group known as the Club from Nowhere and sold baked goods to help fund the Montgomery bus boycott.

 

The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva) produced a podcast about Gilmore titled "A Secret Civil Rights Kitchen: Georgia Gilmore and the Club from Nowhere." Incoming On Second Thought host Virginia Prescott sat down with the Kitchen Sisters to learn more about Gilmore and her secret kitchen.

Last month, investigators in Atlanta recovered about 500 pounds of methamphetamine hidden inside Disney figurines. That's worth about $2 million. Drug Enforcement Administration officials not only say that Atlanta is a hub for crystal meth distribution; according to the DEA, meth also the "No. 1 threat" in the metro area.

Radspunk / Wikimedia Commons

Last month, investigators in Atlanta recovered about 500 pounds of methamphetamine hidden inside Disney figurines. That's worth about $2 million. Drug Enforcement Administration officials not only say that Atlanta is a hub for crystal meth distribution; according to the DEA, meth also the "No. 1 threat" in the metro area.

New research on anxiety in the workplace finds in some cases, anxiety can actually help improve employee performance. Georgia State University psychology professor Page Anderson developed a technology to help people with social anxiety by using virtual reality. The software simulates real life settings that cause patients anxiety, helping them learn to cope before they have to confront the same scenarios in the real world. 

The Carolina Parakeet was a wild bird in lots of senses of the word; it flew throughout the Southeast and Midwest, including along the Georgia coast. Revolutionary War soldiers and Manifest Destiny explorers journaled about their bright green plumage and “disagreeable screams.” And they were thought to be poisonous, because they ate cocklebur seeds that were harmless to them but toxic to cats hoping for a feathered meal. The birds went extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. Now, researcher Kevin Burgio is using their migration patterns and physiology as a means to explore how we can save at-risk species today.

On Second Thought For Friday, April 27, 2018

Apr 27, 2018

It’s been seven months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Blackouts continue. Utility crews on the island are still in emergency restoration mode. As recovery continues on the island, Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Lab (EDL) has opened free office space in Atlanta’s Tech Square to entrepreneurs and researchers from Puerto Rico. It's an expansion of a program Georgia Tech has had in place since 2012.

Rodrigo Ferrari / Wikimedia Commons

This week we talked about racist robots, climate change and autism awareness. So, as we do every Friday, we sat down with our Breakroom guests to process the week's biggest news stories.  We were joined in the studio by Georgia State University professors Héctor Fernández, Soumaya Khalifa, executive director of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, Fayette County commissioner Steve Brown and Korea Daily reporter HB Cho. 

Courtesy of the Robo Sapiens

A group of middle school students from Dacula, Georgia, is preparing for a world championship. This weekend the “Robo Sapiens” will head to Louisville, Kentucky for the 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship, where they will present the findings of their latest research on racist robots and bias in artificial intelligence.

For Mark Sanchez, being a peach grower means "you pretty much stay worried all year. That's because for peaches to bloom in the spring, peach trees have to stay cold in the winter. At Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley, Georgia, that means getting 650-850 "chill hours" — or hours under 45 degrees Fahrenheit — between November and February. But last year, conditions didn't even come within range. By Sanchez's estimate, Fort Valley only got about 550 cold hours. Whereas a typical peach season goes through mid-August, Lane wrapped up operations in early July. So after this year's cold winter, Sanchez, Lane's CEO, is more optimistic. We talked to him about what we can expect from this year's peach season and what makes Georgia the peach state even though other states have surpassed our production levels. 

James Palinsad / Flickr

A new study from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation finds disparities in breast cancer outcomes among African-American women compared to white women.

 

This follows a 2016 Cancer Epidemiology study that found that of any U.S. city, Atlanta had the widest gap in breast cancer mortality rates between African-American women and white women. That’s with 44 black patients per 100,000 residents dying, compared to 20 per 100,000 white women.

 

Food can evoke so many rich memories. A book by Savannah food writer Jonathan Barrett captures some of the stories tied to Southern recipes. We talked with Barrett, author of the new book Cook & Tell, in 2017. We also heard from freelance writer Amy Condon, who contributed her own story to the book.

What does it mean to have an awakening? For Christopher Paul Curtis, it meant finding his calling in his 40s. After working for more than a decade in Detroit's automobile manufacturing industry, Curtis began writing children's books about the African American experience. His 1996 novel "The Watsons Go to Birmingham" earned him a John Newbery Medal, making him the first African American man to win this honor. He won again in 2000 for "Bud, Not Buddy" and in 2008 for "Elijah of Buxton." We spoke with Curtis in 2017. 

Spring has arrived in Georgia. Are you ready to relax outside with a good book? We asked Literary Atlanta podcast host Alison Law and Decatur-based author Nicki Salcedo to tell us about the best new books by Southern writers. We also talked with the Breakroom gang about the most discussed news items of the week.

This year's Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists were announced Tuesday. We listened back to interviews with four past and present honorees. Renee Montagne was named a 2018 finalist for her investigation examining racial disparity in maternal deaths. James Forman Jr. won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for his book "Locking Up Our Own:  Crime and Punishment in Black America." We also revisited conversations with Alfred Uhry, who won the Pulitzer for drama in 1988, as well as Bill Dedman, who in 1989 won the prize for investigative reporting.  

What makes Vidalia onions so special that they get their own festival — and declaration as Georgia's official state vegetable? We asked Delbert Bland of Bland Farms in Glennville, Georgia. He's been in the Vidalia business for decades and gave us a taste of the history and science behind this sweet onion.  

Mike Mozart / Flickr

Get your peelers ready: Vidalia onions arrive in grocery stores Friday. 

A sweet onion you "can eat like an apple," the Vidalia onion grows only in south Georgia. It's been the official state vegetable since 1990. There's even a Vidalia Onion Festival, kicking off its 41st celebration next week with a carnival, multiple cook-offs, recipe contests and a Miss Vidalia Onion Pageant.

In 1981, actor Bruce Campbell first took on "The Evil Dead." The cult hit spawned two sequels, video games, Marvel comic books and a television series. "Ash vs. Evil Dead" airs its season finale later this month. We talked with Campbell last year as he prepared to attend Walker Stalk Con in Atlanta. He shared his thoughts on low budget, his cult star status and getting the chance to reinterpret the title character. 

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would halt its Legal Orientation Program, which provides legal advice and information to detained immigrants. The DOJ has also suspended a telephone helpline. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says this isn't the only obstacle immigrants face when it comes to legal assistance. In a new lawsuit, the SPLC claims federal immigration officials make it difficult for detainees to communicate with their attorneys. In the lawsuit, the Southern Poverty Law Center calls out two Georgia detention centers as part of the problem. SPLC legal director Lisa Graybill and immigration lawyer Hiba Ghalib talked with us about immigrants' access to legal assistance.  

Kate Brumback / AP Photo/File

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would halt its Legal Orientation Program, which provides legal advice and information to detained immigrants. The DOJ has also suspended a telephone helpline.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says this isn't the only obstacle immigrants face when it comes to legal assistance. In a new lawsuit, the SPLC claims federal immigration officials make it difficult for detainees to communicate with their attorneys. In the lawsuit, the Southern Poverty Law Center calls out two Georgia detention centers as part of the problem. 

Courtesy of "Blindspotting"

From Broadway to the big screen, actors Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal are in Georgia for the Atlanta Film Festival. They both co-wrote and star in “Blindspotting,” a film that examines social issues like gentrification and police brutality through the eyes of of two men living in Oakland, California. 

Saturday marks two months since a school shooting killed 17 students and educators in Parkland, Florida. Since then, we’ve heard public outrage transform into ever more urgent calls for reforms to the nation's gun laws. Antoinette Tuff knows first-hand what it’s like to come face-to-face with a school shooter: On Aug. 20, 2013, she was working at Decatur’s Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy when a 20-year-old gunman entered with an AK-47 military assault rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition. Tuff talked the gunman down, and no one was injured or killed. She tells us whether teachers should be armed.

As the weather warms up, you may spot more outdoor cats in your neighborhood. For pet owners, raising a cat to be indoor versus outdoor is a very sensitive subject. We talk about the ethics of cat ownership with Barbara King, College of William & Mary professor emerita of anthropology.

In the year since President Trump took office, a new wave of social movements has rippled across the country. March for Science Atlanta brings together scientists, data geeks and average citizens to push for policies that support and reflect research. The group will hold its annual Rally for Science April 14. The Rally for Science keynote speaker is Emory University professor Linda DeGutis. She previously served as director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC. DeGutis will speak on the importance of gun violence research. We spoke with DeGutis and March for Science organizers Louis Kiphen and Allison Halterman.

Why do young people do stupid things? From the “condom snorting challenge” to the “tide pod challenge,” we looked at some of the dangerous trends popular among teenagers.

A group of neo-Nazis is planning a rally later this month in Newnan, Georgia. Some people in Newnan worry this rally could get violent, and there's a Change.org petition to urge the city not to allow the rally. Is it possible to reform extremists? GPB Special Correspondent Celeste Headlee spoke with two people who left their life of hate behind them.

The ransomware attack that crippled Atlanta a few weeks ago isn't the only high-profile cyberattack Georgia has faced in recent years. Two years ago, a security researcher gained unauthorized access to a server used by Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems, which stores the data of millions of Georgia voters. At the time, the data breach wasn't illegal under Georgia law —  but a new bill awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal's signature could change that. Senate Bill 315 defines unauthorized computer access as a crime under Georgia law, which would make data breaches easier to prosecute. Some people in the tech industry, however, worry SB 315 could actually hinder their ability to do their jobs.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a leader in South Africa's anti-apartheid movement and ex-wife of the late Nelson Mandela, died Monday. She was 81. On Second Thought producer Fenly Foxen, who grew up in South Africa, spoke with host Adam Ragusea about Madikizela-Mandela's integral role in the fight against apartheid. Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe, CEO of the TutuDesk Campaign and daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, also joined from South Carolina. Tutu-Gxashe earned her master's degree from Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health. 

Courtesy of Matt Kennedy

Dorothy Steel might not have auditioned for the superhero movie "Black Panther" if her grandson hadn't told her what a game-changer the film would be for Hollywood and could be for her. 

But her grandson persuaded her to give it a go. She got the part. Now, millions have seen her advise T'Challa, Black Panther and king of Wakanda, as a merchant tribal elder. And she only started acting a few years ago. 

On Second Thought contributor Sonya Green spoke with the actress about her breakout role. 

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic ruling Brown v. the Board of Education more than six decades ago. Linda Brown, the namesake of that landmark court case, died March 25. She was 76. 

With Brown v. Board, it became illegal to separate public school students by race. But since the landmark ruling, many schools in the South have resegregated, according to a report from the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles. The study also found Latino student enrollment surpassed black enrollment for the first time.

We spoke about the resegregation of southern schools with Erica Frankenberg, associate professor of education at Penn State University, Belisa Urbina, executive director of Ser Familia, and Atlanta Journal-Constitution education reporter Maureen Downey.

National Park Service

April 4, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Today, we paid tribute to King's legacy by talking to the people who knew him, portrayed him and were inspired by him. 

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