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When Soledad O’Brien began hosting the multi-part documentary series, Black In America, nearly nine years ago, policing was an issue of concern for African-Americans whether they were rich or poor, she told NewsOne recently in a telephone interview.

“Rich and poor fathers were all giving their sons the talk,” O’Brien recalled. Little did she know, she stood at the brink of an explosive issue that would become one of the leading conversations of the 21st century.

Now, the veteran New York City broadcast journalist and producer, who recently turned 50, will be awarded for her years-long work covering civil rights issues. On Thursday, the National Civil Rights Museum will present her with a 2016 Freedom Award at a ceremony in Memphis, Tennessee.

O’Brien is among several honorees, including Swin Cash, the WNBA champion and activist; Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney; Tawakkol Karman, Yemeni human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Damon Jerome Keith, the longest-serving judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Court; Bryan Stevenson, attorney and social justice activist; and The Honorable William Winter, former Mississippi governor and advocate for public education and racial equality.

“I am surprised and honored,” O’Brien said of the award. “You just try to do your work as a journalist, but it’s great any time anyone recognizes your efforts. But one of the most rewarding things in my career has been to really spend years delving into questions about civil rights. It’s one of the biggest issues that I believe millennials have been able to also help push to the forefront.”

Indeed, O’Brien is encouraged by today’s dialogue about civil rights. “The battle for civil rights continues to unfold and I’m honored to be part of this important conversation,” she said.



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