Soledad O’Brien Brings ‘Black In America’ To Charlotte!
I filed into the lobby of the Knight Theater and was met by an ocean of people. Patrons stood eagerly talking, waiting for tickets, and exchanging smiles and hugs.
Upon entering the theater it became clear just how many from the greater Charlotte community found being Black in America an important conversation piece.
Last night Soledad O’Brien brought her award winning series Black In America to Charlotte. Sponsored by the Harvey B. Gantt Center in conjunction with PNC Bank, Obrien hosted the spirited town hall meeting at the Knight Theater at the Levine Center for the Arts.
In her highly successful Black in America series, O’Brien explores numerous issues that affect the African-American community in the United States.
The multi-part series covers various topics including racial identity, economic achievement, family structure, entrepreneurship, discrimination, and the black middle class.
Through her media production company, Starfish Media Group, many fans have become familiar with the Black In America movement from the specials featured on CNN.
A Harvard graduate and the product of an interracial household—Obrien’s mother is Afro-Cuban and her father is white Australian, Obrien is all too familiar with the concept of race and how it unifies and divides America as a people.
The evening began with O’Brien sharing her research on the disparities between blacks and whites currently occurring throughout our great nation. Implications of racial bias and unfair treatment were shown on news reports from the Hurricane Katrina debacle and the Trayvon Martin case. While startling statistics were offered up on differences in economic success and education.
Joining Obrien on stage were three panelists, President and CEO at the Urban League of Central Carolinas, Patrick Graham; Managing Director at Teach For America, Tiffany Capers; and Director at the Smith Institute for Applied Research at Johnson C. Smith University and founder of Innovo Laboratory, Ron Stoghill.
The topics of the night ranged from education, to unity, to acceptable attire for a person of color in public.
Stoghill noted that although Charlotte is recognized for it’s large African-American middle class there are very few captains of industry—very few black is a position to hire other African-Americans.
The event was then opened to the audience. Various men and women posed their questions to panel.
One of the most refreshing parts of the town hall meeting was that the audience was multi-cultural. So often we find ourselves “preaching to the choir” as someone put it. However, to fully address the issue of racial bias, discrimination, and misunderstanding we have to ask those difficult questions not just of ourselves, but also of others.
O’Brien then took time to thank attendees for their time and support.
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