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Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien named W&M Andrews Fellow

  • Andrews Fellow:
    Andrews Fellow:  Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien will visit William & Mary this month as the university’s Hunter B. Andrews Distinguished Fellow in American Politics.  Courtesy photo
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Campus visit part of yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of African-Americans in residence at William & Mary

Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien will visit William & Mary this month as the university’s Hunter B. Andrews Distinguished Fellow in American Politics. She will be on campus Nov. 14 to give a public lecture.

“Soledad O’Brien clearly honors journalism’s charge to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,’” President Taylor Reveley said. “She has worked personally and professionally to make a difference for the better.  Her devotion to mentorship has been striking.  She knows its power to transform lives and to help close persistent achievement gaps in our society. We have much to learn from Ms. O’Brien; she will be an excellent Hunter Andrews Fellow.”

The Andrews Fellowship was created in 1998 by friends of the former state senator and William & Mary alumnus who died in 2005. During Andrews’ 32 years as a Virginia state senator, he served as its majority leader and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He was also a proponent of education, directing significant funding to Virginia’s public schools and colleges, opposing the state’s policy of “massive resistance” to integration, and reestablishing the compulsory school attendance law. Andrews served on the William & Mary Board of Visitors from 2003 to 2005.

O’Brien’s visit is part of William & Mary’s yearlong commemoration of the arrival of its first residential African-American students 50 years ago. Her public lecture, titled “Diversity: On TV, Behind the Scenes, and in Our Lives,” will take place at 7:45 p.m. in the Sadler Center’s Commonwealth Auditorium. People interested in attending are asked to RSVP online by Nov. 10.

O’Brien is currently the anchor for the nationally syndicated show Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien and chair and founder of the PowHERful Foundation, formerly the Starfish Foundation. She is also the host of American Graduate Day, a public media effort to highlight individuals and organizations that are working to improve the high school graduation rate and put the nation's youth on a pathway to career success.

Throughout her career, she has worked for multiple news outlets, including MSNBC, NBC News and CNN where she co-anchored American Morning and anchored Starting Point. In addition, she has been a correspondent for the Al Jazeera America program America Tonight and HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. A graduate of Harvard University, O’Brien also served as the executive producer on the documentary series Black in America and Latino in America.

She has won myriad awards and honors for her work, including Peabody Awards for CNN’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill and Emmy Awards for coverage of Haiti’s earthquake and the 2012 election. In 2010, she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

William & Mary’s 50th anniversary commemoration, “Building on the Legacy,” began this fall with the unveiling of a mural in Swem Library that includes depictions of the university’s first African-American residential students: Lynn Briley '71, Janet Brown Strafer '71 and Karen Ely '71. The three recently served as the grand marshals for the university’s Homecoming parade; they also led W&M’s new students in the traditional Convocation walk through the Wren Building in August.

Information on additional events planned in honor of the 50th anniversary commemoration may be found on the university’s website.