CNN’s Soledad O’Brien visits University of Alabama campus Wednesday night just days before her next Black in America documentary airs and two days after a diversity gathering of university administrators from around the state in Tuscaloosa.
I hesitate to use the cliche “timing is everything.” But, in describing CNN Special Correspondent Soledad O’Brien’s 7 p.m. address tonight at the University of Alabama, the matter of WHEN it is happening makes it a story.
For CNN, O’Brien’s address here comes four days before the worldwide premiere of the next “Black in America” documentary. “Black in America:Silicon Valley, the New Promised Land” airs this Sunday, Nov. 13.
For the University of Alabama, O’Brien’s visit falls in the same week as a statewide diversity enhancement conference involving administrators, faculty and staff from 12 of the state’s 14 colleges and universities.
Monday’s event was targeted at those responsible for such things as hiring faculty, allocating budgetary resources and improving the overall climate for diversity on our state’s campuses.
Tonight, our nearly 32,000 students will be the target of much of what we expect the former “Today Show” anchor and Harvard graduate to address in her talk entitled “Diversity: On TV, Behind the Scenes and In Our Lives.”
It’s been just over a year since the University of Alabama paid tribute to Autherine Lucy Foster, James Hood and the late Vivian Malone Jones, the three African-American students whose enrollment represented UA’s first steps toward desegregation.
We won’t soon forget the November 3, 2010 dedication of the Malone-Hood Plaza and Autherine Lucy Clock Tower.
But, across the country, Alabama’s been cast in somewhat of a negative spotlight the last few months because of HB 56, a law aimed at curbing illegal immigration in our state. Governor Robert Bentley now says the law needs to be simplified.
As an Afro Cuban, Soledad O’Brien has brought authenticity to the discussion of the national debate over immigration reform. Here in Tuscaloosa, standing room only crowds gathered to discuss her 2008 documentary
“Latino in America”
While the numbers were much smaller for last month’s discussion of “Latino in America 2: In Her Corner,” the passion of the student panel of three Hispanic students who told their stories was just as strong as the central figures in the documentary.
Tonight’s much-anticipated visit by O’Brien allows us to the discussions about race and ethnicity outside of a single classroom and engage an entire campus, which itself has been mired in controversies that remind us that there is work to be done to promote the University as a welcoming environment for everyone.
Additionally, for journalists like myself who are charged with preparing the next generation of media practitioners, O’Brien will shine the light not only on the issues captured with her camera, but behind the camera to see the experience of the producers of these media messages.
Images and Sounds of the June 25, 2011 candle march in Downtown Birmingham tell the story of the opposition to Alabama’s new immigration law, the toughest in the nation.
BIRMINGHAM– In the last few years, we’ve seen dozens of rallies and public protests on immigration around the country, including here in Alabama.
But, none in Alabama’s largest city compare to what took place Saturday, June 25 when thousands marched through downtown in silent protest of the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, which was signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley earlier this month.
The images of those in the crowd, most of whom dressed in white shirts, and the sounds of prayers tell this story from Birmingham’s primary civic space- Linn Park.
Groups came from near and far to stand against Alabama’s new immigration law. The silent protest and prayers in Linn Park was one of the largest gatherings yet since the legislation was signed into law.
BIRMINGHAM– They literally came from near and far to Birmingham’s primary civic space to pray and protest what’s been called the nation’s toughest Immigration law– HB 56.
The “Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act” requires public schools to determine students’ immigration status and makes it a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride.
I was among those who gathered today and I am glad I did.
It’s not enough to talk about the issues facing immigrant populations in our community and our state.
Sometimes we have to physically get together and make a statement.
While most of those who attended donned white shirts, a large group of those participating wore green shirts.
They was actually a church group from Knollwood, North Carolina, a community not far from Fayetteville. They told me they heard about the silent march and wanted to come and support the effort.