On Wednesday, November 9, words of wisdom were spoken when award-winning news anchor Soledad O’Brien of CNN‘s “In America” documentaries stopped by the University of Alabama amidst her national tour to speak about her personal experiences as a journalist and as a woman of mixed ethnicities. Her visit consisted of an hour long speech followed by a 30 minute question and answer session.
Thanks to my Introduction to Journalism professor, Dr. Daniels (you are now my favorite person), I was able to meet and speak with Soledad O’Brien first hand at her reception before her speech. Unfortunately, her attention was desired by all in the room, so a group of several other students and I were only able to share her for only a few minutes. Insisting we call her by her first name, we each bombarded Soledad with questions, me in particular asking about her travel experiences.
A charming woman, she captivated all in the room with her welcoming smile, intelligence and stories of her life. Laughter erupted from whichever corner of the room Soledad, surrounded by admirers, happened to stand in. I was privileged to have the opportunity to take a picture with Soledad and have her sign my book Latino In America. Although I have both of her books, I only brought Latino In America for her to sign because I myself am part Portuguese (I know, I don’t look the least bit Latina). Plus, I didn’t want to overload her with demands.
In the course of her speech–which I sat second row for (I almost died of happiness)–Soledad discussed the many difficulties she overcame as a woman of mixed ethnicities and as a working mom; the projects she took on, such as covering the tsunami in Thailand, hurricane Katrina, her documentary on Dr. Martin Luther King, “Words That Changed a Nation” and her latest documentary, “Black in America: Silicon Valley”; the struggle her parents faced as an interracial couple and her life growing up, as she describes herself, a “bi-racial black girl from Long Island”; all while encouraging students to challenge boundaries and have passion.