O’Brien speaks to full crowd on importance of diversity in journalism

Soledad O’Brien

Quiche Matchen

The Cultural Enhancement series kicked off their second annual event with award-winning journalist and producer, Soledad O’Brien.

The event was held at Van Meter Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. with a full house ready to hear what the National Association of Black Journalist’s, journalist of the year had to say.

David Lee, dean of the Potter College of Arts and Letters introduced O’Brien. He said O’Brien introduces herself on Twitter as the CEO of Starfish Media Group that produces documentaries and series, as well as a reporter for HBO Real Sports.

“That strikes me as a pretty modest description for a broadcast journalist whose resume includes: NBC, CNN, MSNBC, HBO and more recently Al Jazeera America,” he said.

O’Brien came out to a loud applause and addressed the tweets that she had received from the audience. Those tweets ranged from students waiting for her to come out since 5:30 to students wanting her to give them a shout out.

She said she’s always intrigued to see the stories that come out of the nation’s “very troubled past.”

“Diversity in storytelling is so important,” she said. “To tell the story of America all the voices have to be heard.”

O’Brien said her parents framed how she thinks about journalism, and are the reason that she’s so interested in telling stories that otherwise might go unheard.

Her mother, African American and Cuban and her father, Australian, were together in the late 1950’s when interracial dating was frowned upon.

“I would ask my mother what it was like to walk around Baltimore in the late 1950s, early 1960s,” she said. “She said ‘oh, people use to spit on us thinking we were disgusting.’”

O’Brien asked her mother what she did when that would happen.

Her mother responded saying: “We knew America was better than that.”

O’Brien said she believes things can change because the hope and idea of America is better than that.

She said as a journalist she wanted to tell stories about people that fought against stereotypes, stories that often aren’t told.

Windchester junior Kinya Embry said she was really inspired by O’Brien because of her beauty and wisdom.

“It made me want to use my voice and spread diversity,” Embry said. “And it made me ask myself am I doing everything to my full potential?”