Friday Conversation | KERA News

Friday Conversation

The Friday Conversation is a weekly in-depth discussion between KERA's Vice President of News Rick Holter with people making news in North Texas. Subjects have ranged from former President Jimmy Carter to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price to sportscaster Dale Hansen to the new head of an education nonprofit to a historian exploring a notorious lynching a century ago.

Explore the latest interviews below:

Ways to Connect

Miguel Perez / KERA News

When the Texas Legislature gavels into session next week, Julie Johnson will make history. She'll be one of Dallas County's first two openly gay legislators — and the first state House member with a same-sex spouse.

Sessions: J. Scott Applewhite, AP; Allred: Chris Connelly, KERA News

In North Texas’ most heated congressional race, health care has become the dominant issue. Longtime Republican Rep. Pete Sessions is facing his toughest political challenge in years from Democrat and civil rights lawyer Colin Allred for his North Dallas seat. And the two candidates and their supporters are spending millions of dollars on ads to paint the other guy as a bad choice.

So where do the two stand?

Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church

Terry Turner lives at the intersection of religion, history and politics. The pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church comes out of the deep traditions of the African-American church, and he's past president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Vote Common Good

Doug Pagitt doesn't think the words "conservative" and "evangelical" have to go hand in hand.

He's an evangelical Christian pastor from Minneapolis who heads an effort called Vote Common Good. Pagitt and his compadres are on a marathon bus tour across the country encouraging voters in battleground Congressional districts to elect Democrats on Nov. 6.

Verne Lundquist

When Cowboys tight end Jackie Smith famously dropped a third-quarter touchdown pass during Super Bowl XIII in 1979, what sports anchor Verne Lundquist yelled out solidified the moment in sports history.

"Bless his heart! He's got to be the sickest man in America!"

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Texas's 33rd Congressional District looks like a misshapen barbell, stretching from Fort Worth to North Dallas and Oak Cliff. Farther south, the city of Austin includes slices of six different districts.

Shutterstock Photo Illustration

(Editor's note: This story includes graphic details of a sexual assault that some may find disturbing.) 

In the summer of 2006, 16-year-old Amber Wyatt said she was was raped by two of her classmates at Martin High School in Arlington. She reported the crime almost immediately. No one was ever prosecuted.

O'Rourke: Richard W. Rodriguez/AP; Cruz: AJ Mast/AP

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, face off Friday night in the first of three debates. 

This matchup has become one of the most closely watched in the 2018 midterm election season, as Cruz tries to hold off O'Rourke and what Democrats hope will be a "blue wave."  

Miguel Perez / KERA News

Fort Worth has set an ambitious goal: to have every third grader reading on grade level by 2025. That's the key milestone for a public-private effort called Read Fort Worth, which just hired a new executive director, Anel Mercado.

LM Otero / AP

As the Dallas heat wanes and people start emerging from their air-conditioned homes, the search to find a comfortable park nearby can be a challenge. 

Michael Graczyk / AP

In nearly 46 years of reporting for The Associated Press, Mike Graczyk has seen at least 429 Texans go to their deaths in Huntsville.

That's almost a third of all the inmates executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reaffirmed capital punishment in 1976.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

The Texas Education Agency has released new A-F grades for school districts. Some school leaders call the new rating system misleading. They say the letter grades simplify a complex issue. 

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

One of the nation's most prominent Latino organizations has a new leader, and he's a familiar face to North Texans.

Gus Contreras / KERA News

One of the iconic figures in North Texas news made some news himself this week.

WFAA-TV anchor John McCaa announced he'll retire next spring after 34 years at Channel 8. McCaa shares his experience and what he’s looking forward to in retirement in this week's Friday Conversation.

John Locher / AP

The future of transportation seems jam-packed with high-tech gizmos, like bullet trains, self-driving cars, flying taxis and Hyperloop.

And yet, the future in North Texas still belongs to cars, at least if you dig into "Mobility 2045," the long-term transportation roadmap for the area.

Reynaldo Leal / The Texas Tribune

Hundreds of kids are still separated from their migrant parents, despite Thursday's deadline for the Trump administration to reunite families.

Investigative reporter Neena Satija has been following one of those families — Marcos, Sandy and their four children — for the Texas Tribune and Reveal. Satija talked with KERA about what she learned while reporting the story. 

Allison V. Smith for KERA News

One of the biggest surprises from the "Still On The Edge" series showed up early in Courtney Collins' reporting process. When she sat down to review data, she saw a 16 percent drop in median income in Dallas County over a six year period. In Texas, the drop was around 2 percent.

She wasn't the only one surprised by those numbers.

Gus Contreras / KERA News

For someone seeing downtown Dallas for the first time, it's hard to believe: a half-mile-wide swath of open land, almost in the shadows of the skyscrapers. And yet, Dallas has never figured out what to do with this massive green space.

Google Maps screenshot

There's a big, chunky building with tiny, obscured windows along Bryan Street in Old East Dallas that is a bit of a mystery. A pair of reporters think they've unraveled some of that mystery.

Courtesy of Silvana Pagliuca

Friday is the rare off day in one of biggest sporting events on Earth.

The World Cup starts its Round of 16 this weekend, and one North Texan spent the last three weeks following soccer teams and fans across Russia.

Lawrence Schiller (courtesy Lawrence Schiller Archives), 1968

The drama on the U.S.-Mexico border the last few weeks has eerie echoes from a half-century ago, when then-U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy went to Mississippi.

What he saw — brutal poverty, especially among children — sparked what historian and author Ellen Meacham calls a "Delta Epiphany." 

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

The State Board of Education will take a final vote Friday on what will be the first state-approved course on Mexican-American history in Texas public schools.

Courtesy of Miguel Solis

Olivia Solis has spent her entire life in the hospital. The three-month-old baby was born with a congenital heart defect. She's had multiple surgeries; the latest to close her chest after an extremely rare infant heart transplant.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

For most kids in North Texas, today's the last day of school. This day has special meaning for the struggling schools KERA's education team has explored over the last month in our series, “The Race To Save Failing Schools.”

Lara Solt / KERA Special Contributor

A few years back, the Dallas school district came up with an ambitious plan to save failing schools. Accelerating Campus Excellence, or ACE, pours money and the best teachers and principals into struggling schools. With Fort Worth, Garland and Richardson borrowing the idea for their failing schools, can ACE work on a larger scale?

KERA News

Former NFL player Husain Abdullah will be among the students at Southern Methodist University walking the stage this weekend. His journey to a master's degree in conflict resolution is like no other.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

After 33 years watching rockets blast off for NASA, Lesa Roe is presiding over a different kind of launch this week. It's her first commencement weekend as chancellor of the University of North Texas system.

Ryan Poppe / Texas Public Radio (left); Krystina Martinez / KERA News (right)

With the National Rifle Association's annual meeting kicking into high gear today in Dallas, KERA sat down for Friday Conversations with two women on opposite sides of the gun debate. 

LM Otero / AP

It’s been six months since Ed Jamison came to Dallas as the head of the city’s Animal Services Department.  That milestone came days after a woman was mauled by four loose dogs in South Dallas. She survived, but the attack again highlighted the longstanding problem of loose dogs in that area.

The George W. Bush Presidential Center

The George W. Bush Presidential Center is celebrating its fifth birthday with a star-studded leadership forum that ends Friday night with a keynote speech from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Bush Center president and CEO Ken Hersh says bringing Bezos to Dallas at a time when President Trump's been criticizing him on Twitter — and Dallas is on the shortlist for Amazon's second headquarters — was a coincidence.

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