O'Brien Is Keynote Speaker in Springfield

Soledad O'Brien at the Springfield Urban League's 83rd annual dinner December 4, 2009. Photo: Armando L. Sanchez/The State Journal-Register

Soledad O’Brien gave the keynote address for the Springfield (IL) Urban League’s 83rd annual dinner this month. The event's theme was “empowered by diversity.”

O’Brien, 43, is the daughter of an Afro-Cuban mother and an Australian father of Irish descent. Her full name is Maria de la Soledad Teresa O’Brien.

“I check all the boxes” indicating race, O’Brien joked during an interview before her speech.

“I think there is a value to being an insider and outsider, and in a way, I get to be both.
The number of minorities, black and brown people, will be the majority. To me, that just means that everybody has to feel they have a place and can contribute. We have to see the nation as this one big boat that we are all on together. A success for one of us is a success for all of us. And, conversely, the failure of a group is a failure for all of us. If the boat springs a leak, we are all going down.

You cannot have a graduation rate of 50 percent and expect that the nation is going to be fine. I think people are getting that now in ways that, 10 years ago, they did not."

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