OZY Series

Statesof theNation

On the heels of a historically divisive election, OZY is hitting the road to start a provocative and unfiltered conversation about the path forward. Tour America with OZY's tribe of reporters as we uncover the people, places and trends that are reshaping the nation, one state at a time.

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  1. Kentucky

    At the crux of the urban-rural divide is the Bluegrass State, whose biggest city is being rewritten by a data-driven mayor. The state’s rural residents are grappling with a failing coal economy and facing a new threat: the influx of radioactive waste from their fracking neighbors.

    • State motto “United we stand, divided we fall.”

    • Fast fact Pikeville leads the nation in per-capita Pepsi consumption.

    • Did you know? The state’s Mammoth National Park contains the longest cave system in the world.

    • Unemployment 4.8% (Kentucky) vs. 4.7% (national)

  2. West Virginia

    Filled with stunning beauty and equally stunning contradictions, the Mountain State is also marked by its deep ties to family and communities that continually seem to grapple with a complicated relationship to industry.

    • State motto “Montani semper liberi” (“mountaineers are always free”).

    • Fast fact No. 1 state for female incarceration.

    • Did you know? The first Mother's Day in the U.S. was celebrated in Grafton in 1908.

    • Unemployment 5.9% (West Virginia) vs. 4.7% (national)

  3. Tennessee

    The orbit of political power in the Volunteer State rests solidly in Nashville, where the honky-tonk economy booms — but so does homelessness. As legislators grapple with the implications, their capital city has worked to attract new Americans and new ideas.

    • State motto “Agriculture and commerce.”

    • Fast fact Home to the second-most visited house in the country (after the White House): Graceland.

    • Did you know? Tennessee boasts the oldest continuously operated African-American bank in the country.

    • Unemployment 4.9% (Tennessee) vs. 4.7% (national)

  4. North Carolina

    The Tar Heel state teeters between the Research Triangle’s blue brethren and its rural red expanses. Between Appalachian ski slopes and Nicholas Sparks’ romanticized beach towns, the state that once “outlawed climate change” now faces deep questions of faith, as both bathroom bills and floodwaters rise against biblical values.

    • State motto “Esse Quam Videri.” (“To be, rather than to seem”).

    • Fast fact Asheville’s Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned house in the U.S.

    • Did you know? The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the country’s oldest state university.

    • Unemployment 5.1% (North Carolina) vs. 4.7% (national)

  5. Utah

    This vastly rural state is distinguished by its conservative values and ties to the Latter-day Saints Church. But its counterculture activists are fighting the powers that be, and urban centers are flexing some serious progressive muscle when it comes to legislative issues that advocate clean air and women’s rights.

    • State motto Industry

    • Fast fact More than half — 51 percent — of the state’s residents attend church each week, the highest in the U.S.

    • Did you know? Coal, the Beehive State’s official rock, is found in 17 of 29 counties — though mining is primarily concentrated in two of them, including Carbon County.

    • Unemployment 3.1% (Utah) vs. 4.7% (national)

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