Purdue to host 'Soledad O'Brien's Black in America' Feb. 10

January 26, 2015  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Award-winning journalist Soledad O'Brien on Feb. 10 will visit Purdue University for a conversation about race relations and policing in America.

Sponsored by Purdue's Division of Diversity and Inclusion, the LGBTQ Center and the Black Cultural Center, O'Brien is bringing her series "Soledad O'Brien Presents Black in America 2015 Tour," to Elliott Hall of Music. The 6 p.m. event, which is free and open to the public, will be her only stop in Indiana. Also sponsoring the event are the Brian Lamb School of Communication and the Purdue Student Union Board.

O'Brien is hosting conversations throughout February to share her own professional and life experiences and host a panel discussion. The tour is an extension of her "Black in America" series, which premiered on CNN in 2008 as a multipart series of documentaries covering issues, challenges and culture of African Americans across the nation.

The interactive event at Purdue will feature an audio/visual presentation and will include audience participation, said Lowell Kane, director of the Purdue LGBTQ Center. O'Brien will draw the audience into a discussion about their community as it confronts social change.

"This forum can help us gain a greater understanding of these very complex issues and their historical context," said G. Christine Taylor, Purdue's vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. "I'm very excited that the Black in America Tour 2015 will be coming to Purdue."

Panelists will include Venetria Patton, professor of English and African American Studies at Purdue and director of the African American Studies Research Center; Chuck D, leader and co-founder of the rap group Public Enemy and an author and producer; Julianne Malveaux, a labor economist, author and commentator; and a celebrity guest via Skype.

"We're pleased to be able to host this event to continue a very important national discussion," Kane said. "This is an excellent opportunity to stimulate healthy conversations on race and questions of identity."

BCC director Renee Thomas said, "Soledad O'Brien's work in reporting on the African American experience, her experience with reporting breaking news from around the world and her global perspective should provide all who attend a memorable experience."

O'Brien was the originator of "Black in America" and "Latino in America." In 2013, she began Starfish Media Group, a multiplatform media production and distribution company dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories about issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity. Her honors include two Emmy Awards for 2012 election coverage and special report "Kids on Race," and two George Foster Peabody awards for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Gulf Coast oil spill. She also has received the Cine Award for documentaries, journalist of the year from the National Association of Black Journalists and made Newsweek magazine's "10 People Who Make America Great" listing.

Patton researches black women's writing, with a focus on how their writing responds to issues related to the history of slavery. Her first book, "Women in chains: The Legacy of Slavery in Black Women's Fiction," was a Choice 2000 Outstanding Academic Book. Her essays have appeared in Black Studies and Women's Studies journals as well as in essay collections.

Chuck D, or Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, helped begin Public Enemy in 1987. Between 1987 and 2009, Public Enemy released 13 albums and toured 63 countries. Rolling Stone magazine included Chuck D and Public Enemy as one of the "50 most important performers in rock 'n' roll history" and in 2007 he was named one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony magazine. In 2013, he and Public Enemy were elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has been featured or interviewed in over 50 documentaries on music, technology, politics and race.

Malveaux, who received her doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, served as the 15th president of Bennett College for Women. She has been on the faculty or visiting faculty of the New School for Social Research at San Francisco State University, the University of California at Berkeley, the College of Notre Dame in San Mateo, California, Michigan State University and Howard University. Her writing has appeared in USA Today, Black Issues in Higher Education, Ms. Magazine, Essence Magazine and the Progressive. Her weekly columns appeared from 1990-2003 in newspapers across the nation including the Los Angeles Times, Charlotte Observer, New Orleans Tribune, Detroit Free Press and San Francisco Examiner.

Additional sponsors of the Purdue event include the Brian Lamb School of Communication, the African American Studies and Research Center, Purdue Student Government and Purdue Housing and Food Services.

To follow the "Black in America" conversation on social media, look for the hashtags #IAmTheConversation and #PurdueTalks.

Other stops on the Black in America 2015 Tour include Bucknell University, the University of Massachusetts in Boston, Pennsylvania State University, Bloomsburg University, the University of Georgia, the University of Houston and Florida International University. 

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-496-9711, gmcclure@purdue.edu 

Sources: Lowell Kane, 765-494-9712, kane14@purdue.edu

Renee Thomas, 765-494-3091, rathomas@purdue.edu 

G. Christine Taylor, 765-494-6969, taylorgc@purdue.edu 

Note to Journalists: Soledad O'Brien and other panelists will have a news conference at 4:30 p.m. at Elliott Hall of Music. Please contact Greg McClure, 765-497-9611, gmcclure@purdue.edu if you plan to attend. 

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