Orange County

Journalist Soledad O’Brien to speak at Carolina’s MLK Celebration

Soledad O’Brien
Soledad O’Brien

Emmy-award winning journalist Soledad O’Brien will deliver the keynote address on Tuesday as part of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week.

O’Brien is the founder and CEO of Starfish Media Group, a production and distribution company that examines social issues, including race, class and poverty. O’Brien was an anchor at CNN before she started Starfish Media in 2013.

She said her speech will focus on the role the individual can have in creating positive change, noting that King’s lessons are especially relevant in a country that feels increasingly divided. MLK Day, she said, represents an “opportunity to talk about how we come together, how we work for a common good.”

“Some people don’t recognize the degree to which Dr. King was quite radical,” O’Brien told The News & Observer. “He was really very aggressive when he came to his concepts around what individuals had to do in order to serve and contribute.”

“I do think we have an obligation to listen to each other’s stories and elevate each other’s stories and understand that the full tapestry of America is a complicated one,” she said. “There is no one version that gets to be the overriding narrative.”

O’Brien produced the documentary series “Black in America” for CNN in 2008. The popular series explored issues relating to race and challenges facing the black community in America. In 2009, O’Brien was also the correspondent for the CNN’s “Latino in America,” a series that explored life for the quickly growing number of Latinos in America.

Since leaving the network, she has criticized CNN for its coverage of the election – accusing journalists of helping normalize the views of white supremacists by giving them airtime.

O’Brien will deliver her lecture at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall, 114 E. Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill. Recipients of the University’s MLK Scholarship and Unsung Hero Awards will also be recognized.

The event is free, but tickets are required. They are available at the Carolina Performing Arts box office or online at

Rachel Chason: 919-829-4629, @Rachel_Chason