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NBC's Lester Holt is in Raleigh and Durham to explore Confederate statue debate

Lester Holt of NBC's Nightly News is in the Triangle on May 11, 2018, to do segments on the confederate statue debate and the Miracle League of the Triangle.
Lester Holt of NBC's Nightly News is in the Triangle on May 11, 2018, to do segments on the confederate statue debate and the Miracle League of the Triangle. The Associated Press

NBC news anchor Lester Holt has spent the past week traveling the nation on a news tour designed to take him away from the 24-seven news cycle and the countless political spot fires in the nation's capital.

The 59-year-old's Friday newscast brings him to the North Carolina capital, where he'll focus on a fiery debate here — what to do about Confederate monuments.

It's an issue that has sparked protests in Durham and Chapel Hill and led to numerous N.C. Historical Commission meetings in which members are considering a formal request that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper made late last year to move three monuments from the state's Capitol grounds to a historic battlefield site 45 miles away.

They've been debating whether a 2015 law adopted by the Republican-led General Assembly allows such a move.

Video: A ladder and strong rope were used to swiftly pull a Confederate statue to the ground during an ‘Emergency Durham Protest’ at the old Durham County Courthouse in response to the violent protests Saturday in Charlottesville, on Monday, Aug.

Holt's tour began Monday in Portland, Ore., where the anchor and his news crew looked at what the city was doing to address the opioid crisis.

From there he went to Denver and explored the impact of legalizing marijuana, then to Chicago, Pittsburgh and Raleigh.

The tour comes a little more than a year after Holt and the "Nightly News" crew went out on the road to take the pulse of the country a week before President Donald Trump's inauguration.

"The thing about our broadcast is we like to go where the news is," Holt said in a recent telephone interview. "Often we'll show up after something horrible has happened. So often people say to me, we should come back when things aren't so bad. ... I like getting out of the studio in general."

That's part of the reason that Holt is on his five-city tour.

But, he added, many of the stories being covered in each city have a universal theme.

"Raleigh-Durham is a pretty exciting place," Holt said, noting that he also will do his broadcast live from Durham.

Although the tour was designed to focus the broadcast on something other than politics, he knows there's no escaping that in these times.

"Politics is never off the table," Holt said.

Nonetheless, Holt says he enjoys talking with people about other issues and reporting on feel-good stories, too.

Confederate monuments on state property are something NC residents feel passionately about -- on both sides of the issue. They voice their opinions on the Capitol grounds in Raleigh, where several monuments stand

Should Confederate monuments stay or go?

While in North Carolina, he'll do a segment on the Miracle League of the Triangle, an organization that creates positive experiences for children and adults with special needs through baseball.

Tune in to the 6:30 p.m. national broadcast to see and hear what Holt found in North Carolina.

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