Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Soledad O'Brien Speaks at Webster University

O'Brien at the Civil Rights Museum
A diverse crowd of people formed the audience as Soledad O’Brien spoke at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.
“Stories of diversity make us all strong, and they’re interesting, and they fill in the gaps of history with the voices of the people who are not often heard,” O’Brien said.

“Controlling your narrative is where the power lies,” O’Brien said. “The media often controls the narrative. Sometimes, they have a bad habit of abusing that power.”

O’Brien also spoke earlier to a group of communications students and told them about the beginnings of her career as a journalist and the experiences that changed her life.

“As I was climbing the ladder, it never occurred to me that I could cover some of the biggest stories of our time,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said that her first eye-opening experience as a journalist was when she covered the lasting effect of Fidel Castro’s rule. She said her previous stories lacked character depth until she had to uncover the motives of the people who supported him.

“Why were people lined up mourning a dictator?” O’Brien said. “Up until then, most of my stories lacked context. The poor were always poor. The mother who drowned her children was crazy, and everything was black and white.”

O’Brien said overgeneralization in news reporting is a problem in today’s media.

“There’s no nuance, you’re either good or you’re bad,” O’Brien said.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Mentoring Peace Makers

Photo: Todd Plitt  via

Award-winning journalist Soledad O'Brien discussed "mentoring peace makers" along with esteemed actress Cicely Tyson at the annual Destiny Awards on February 22 at St. Philip's School & Community Center in Dallas.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Soledad O'Brien "Says It Like She Means It"

Soledad O'Brien "Says It Like She Means It" during an appearance
on the Wendy Williams show in 2012.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Starfish Scholar Program: Transforming Lives — One Girl at a Time

In 2017, Soledad O'Brien and her foundation, the Starfish Scholar Program, continues its philanthropic venture.

Focusing on disadvantaged young women and with a goal of helping a group of them complete their college education and begin careers, the foundation’s motto is “Transforming Lives — One Girl at a Time.”

O'Brien's day might well start at 5:30 a.m. and into a hair and make-up chair before appearing on television.

The day can include foundation business, conducting interviews, being interviewed and working on documentaries for her Starfish Media group.

Plus, Soledad is a wife and mother of four. Her evening might be devoted to family, public events, or dinner with her young scholars at her New York apartment.

“Our Scholars are young,” says O’Brien. “They haven’t been through the experience where the thing that was bad actually turned out to be a blessing, and the thing that was great turned out to be not so great. That’s what time gives us.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Panel on 'Hidden Figures' Hosted by Soledad O'Brien

(From left to right: Elizabeth Gabler, President Fox 2000 Pictures, 20th Century Fox; Rashid Ferrod Davis, Founding Principal, P-TECH; Kristen Summers, Technical Delivery Lead, Watson Public Sector, IBM; Soledad O’Brien, journalist and panel moderator. Image: Black Enterprise)
Coinciding with the official nationwide launch of Hidden Figures, the biopic about three black women mathematicians who worked in the earliest days of the American space program, Soledad O'Brien hosted a panel on the movie and a discussion of women in science and tech.

Those mathematicians (Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson) did work that helped John Glenn orbit the Earth in the 1960s.

The panel at CES, the world’s largest technology show, included the film's director, Theodore Melfi, and one of its stars, Octavia Spencer as well as leaders in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and focused on the incredible achievements of the three mathematicians as depicted in the film and the ongoing push for women to succeed in STEM.

Soledad O’Brien said that the movie was an emotional experience for her because it not only recognizes the power of these women using math and science, but also what they accomplished socially. She was struck by how the women affected great change. “These are some tough, amazing women who really got the job done that needed to be done,” she said.

During the movie, Octavia Spencer’s character learns to program the IBM 7090 DPS—a vacuum-tube mainframe computer. IBM is one of the oldest tech companies in the world, forming in the 19th century. Its technology was used in World War II and for space exploration.

“Big Blue” also has an extensive history of diversity. “We’re so privileged to have had the IBM forefathers who hired the first black employee,” said Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, IBM’s chief diversity officer. That employee was Richard MacGregor hired in 1899 by IBM’s precursor company, the Computing Scale Company. In 1953, IBM hired its first black engineer and continues on a trajectory of diverse hiring today.

You can watch the IBM and Hidden Figures panel in its entirety at


Friday, January 20, 2017

Soledad O’Brien Discusses Service at MLK Lecture at UNC

Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill
Soledad OĆ­Brien concluded her keynote address at the MLK Celebration Lecture and Awards Ceremony at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by asking the audience, “What are you going to do?”

Her talk was interspersed with clips from her Latino in America and Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11 documentaries highlighting how “uncomfortable conversations” could and should be opened and discussed. Her talk focused on the opportunity each and every individual has to spark social change.

“Every step forward toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle. What will be my service? To tell the stories of all Americans — whether they look like me or not, whether they agree with me or not — and seek to understand them and accurately reflect their stories.”

As with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom she described as a regular man who decided he would do great things, “That means for the rest of us that we have that same opportunity,’’ said O’Brien.

O’Brien said her role in sparking social change is to continue to tell — and most importantly listen to — people’s stories.

In 2013, O’Brien launched Starfish Media Group, a multi-platform media production and distribution company dedicated to uncovering and producing stories that challenge the issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity through personal narratives. She originated the documentary series, In America, which included Black in America and Latino in America and is still produced by her production company.