For our last issue of 2019, we decided to try something different. 

Instead of recapping the year’s biggest stories or listing our favorite records, we’re revisiting this revolution around the sun through the prism of nineteen (OK, technically twenty) people whose lives have been enormously consequential to the Triangle—and North Carolina—over the past twelve months, either through their own actions or, in some cases, because of circumstances beyond their control. 

They’re not all heroes, though many deserve to be lauded. We’ve folded our annual Indies Arts Awards into this special issue, so we’re honoring arts presenters and a renowned poet and the best chef in the country. 

But others featured in this section have more ambiguous legacies: politicians who’ve made promises they’ll now have to keep and university officials at the center of major controversies. Whether their impact was for better or worse is a matter of opinion, or maybe something for the history books to decide. 

We also have profiles of a little boy who will never grow up, a man stepping out from his parents’ considerable shadow, and an imprisoned woman trying to force the state to see her for who she really is, as well as a world-champion soccer player, a potentially world-changing scientist, and a crusader whose two-decade battle against gerrymandering bore fruit this year.

And that’s just scratching the surface. 

This year has been a long, strange trip—at times tragic, often infuriating, and, at rare moments, if you squinted just the right way at just the right moment, almost hopeful. 

Let’s remember it together. And then let’s do better next year.  

Table of Contents

Mary-Ann Baldwin (by Leigh Tauss)

Steve Schewel (by Jeffrey C. Billman)

Tallman Trask III (by Jeffrey C. Billman)

Deb Butler (by Leigh Tauss)

Z’yon Person (by Thomasi McDonald)

Satana Deberry (by Thomasi McDonald)

Kanautica Zayre-Brown (by James Michael Nichols)

Javiera Caballero (by Thomasi McDonald)

Bob Phillips (by Jeffrey C. Billman)

Carol Folt (by Jeffrey C. Billman)

Crystal Dunn (by Lucas Hubbard)

Ashley Christensen (by Layla Khoury-Hanold)

Pierce Freelon (by Thomasi McDonald)

Jenny Tung (by Jeffrey C. Billman)

Sulaiman and Lesleigh Mausi (by Thomasi McDonald)

J. Clapp/Vivica C. Coxx (by James Michael Nichols)

Emil Kang (by Brian Howe)

Jaki Shelton Green (by Sarah Edwards)

Charles Phaneuf (by Byron Woods)

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at

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One reply on “The INDY’s 19 People of 2019”

  1. This end-of-year series is a great idea, I hope to see it become a tradition, also, I’m thrilled to see Crystal Dunn on the list!

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