Soledad O'Brien spoke and hosted a panel at last week's Newark Peace Education Summit in New Jersey. The Summit was a three-day conference focusing on peacemaking practices from around the world. The conference was structured as a comprehensive, exploration of the many aspects of peacemaking, beginning with the practices of finding peace within the self, then subsequently radiating outward to peace within the home, peace through education, peace in the community, the world and the planet.
Large-scale panel discussions broke into practical workshops for further exploration of the various topics discussed.
In an interview on beliefnet.com, Soledad said:
I was thrilled to be asked. Anything with the Dalai Lama attending and someone like Mayor Corey Booker – sort of a nice group of people to be asked to participate with. The connection is our new documentary, Don't Fail Me, which takes a look at the crisis of education in America.
Her own educational background has had a huge impact on her life's work. Her mother and father were both teachers who valued education. Soledad and her siblings attended Harvard.
I went to high school and then on to college, but a lot of my job is about being educated. It’s about reading, learning and discovering new things. The only way to get new experiences and to grow is to be educated by exposure. It’s so crucial. The more you can be exposed and the more you can be educated, the more you see opportunity in your life and the more you see chances to do something else and different versions of what an end outcome can be. All those things lead to more peaceful solutions. People who are desperate and hopeless look at violence as the way out, and I think anybody who sees opportunity doesn’t.
Most of Soledad's work for CNN the past few years has been in "educational" documentaries. She says that though the Black in America on CNN touched a lot of people, she realized that " We had just scratched the surface. There were dozens and dozens of great stories to tell. We discovered we should be doing this all the time."
CNN's "In America" series has continued and will be looking at women who were rescue workers in 9/11, miners in West Virginia, Latinos and profiles of other groups.
Speakers at the Newark Summit included Nobel Peace Laureates, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights advocate, Jody Williams, the American anti-landmine activist, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Martin Luther King III, Robert Thurman, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Goldie Hawn, Soledad O’Brien, Ed Norton, Donna Karan, Van Jones, Jeffrey Sachs, Majora Carter, the Kogui Shaman of Columbia, South America, Somaly Mam, Cameron Sinclair, Russell Simmons and may more distinguished peace advocates from a wide cross section of cultures, disciplines and perspectives.
The event was held at the NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center) in Newark, New Jersey, May 13-15, 2011.