Black History Month: Celebrating Afro-Latina Soledad O'Brien
As part of Black history month, we are spotlighting a few of the world’s most renowned Afro-Latinas, who have not only made huge strides in their fields of work, but have also managed to embrace both sides of their heritage with style.
Today, we celebrate the lovely and talented Soledad O’Brien.
This award-winning journalist, who has an Afro-Cuban mom and an Irish dad, grew up in a mostly white suburb on Long Island. Despite this, the anchorwoman says she never struggled with being part of a mixed race family.
“I guess I was really good at resisting being put in a box of definitions because my mother was the same way,” O’Brien told Latina Magazine in 2009. “My parents just wouldn’t allow it….I wasn’t being raised in a Black community, I wasn’t being raised in a Latino community, and I wasn’t being raised in an Irish community. I was being raised very much as an outsider.”
In fact, O’Brien says that she rarely recognized Latino activities in her house--like eating black beans and rice for Christmas dinner--as a cultural thing. “It wasn’t hard to avoid being put in a box,” she said.
Still, her roots have had an affect on her career and the issues she has covered as a journalist. After graduating from Harvard College, O’Brien first began her journey into media at an NBC affiliate company in Boston before transferring to NBC News’ New York headquarters in 1991. She served as a local reporter and bureau chief for three years and then made her first break as an anchorwoman at MSNBC’s technology program, The Site. From there, she went on to anchor NBC’s Weekend Today before joining the CNN network in 2003.
Since then, O’Brien has reported breaking news from around the globe and has produced record-breaking and critically acclaimed documentaries on the most important stories facing the world today, some of which reflect her own heritage. Black in America: The New Promised Land profiles a program developed to help African-American digital entrepeneurs secure funding for their ventures and in 2008, she debuted Latino In America, which documented diverse stories of Latinos living in the US.
O’Brien has won numerous awards throughout her career, one of the most notable being her first Emmy in the category of Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story for Crisis in Haiti, which aired on Anderson Cooper 360 last year.
Image via The Rudz/flickr