Big Turnout for Sneak Preview PDF Print E-mail
By Victoria Fortune -- Black College Wire   

Lines poured out of the Naval Memorial Heritage Center recently as people awaited a Washington, D.C., sneak preview of CNN's "Black in America 2."

The audience ranged from children to senior citizens and executives to students, all there to view some of the most challenging issues and solutions facing Black America.  the size of the crowd increased and many were escorted into an overflow room, as CNN Correspondent Roland Martin hosted the July 14 event.

“I wasn’t a big critic of Black in America 1. I feel like you have to start somewhere from the ground work so people understand where we are coming from," said audience member Jeanni Simpson.

Not a single person appeared inattentive as the preview began with CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien introducing the Barneses, a married couple, who despite their love for one another, are growing apart. The couple confided in expert Nisa Mohammad with hopes to mend their broken marriage.

WikiMedia Commons public photo
Soledad O'Brien
Although it is unknown whether or not the couple remains married, they did appear to be together at the screening.

The topic of marriage was later brought back up during the panel discussion. Panelist Maudeen Cooper, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Urban League, challenged the audience to count the amount of couples they knew that have been married for over ten years; very few hands were raised.

According to Cooper, the number of black couples marrying is decreasing, and many children are growing up in single parent homes. Rising Pennsylvania State University senior Eric Charity had experience growing up in both a two parent and single parent household and how it can effect a person's outlook on relationships.

“I was fortunate enough to grow up in a two parent household; however, I have also experienced living in a single parent household when my mother left after I graduated from high school," Charity said.

"Being that I have experienced both, I can say that there is truly a difference. I had already developed the values of hard work and discipline, but it affected me where I saw myself not trusting a number of individuals, particularly women because my mother had left. If your mother leaves then all women will leave, was the thinking in my mind. I can see this as a problem with people who lack fathers as well.”

Though there were many stories shared in the screening, the topic of single parent versus two parent households became a focal point.

John Rice mentioned that a great deal of his success stems from growing up with his sister Susan Rice in a two-parent household. Susan was recently appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. John Rice is CEO of Management Leadership of Tomorrow, a nonprofit that develops minorities for leadership positions all across the country. Rice grew up around a number of positive role models and he notes that being around such people, influenced him to start his own leadership company.

Similar to Rice, Steve Perry is also a success story. Perry is the principal of Capitol Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn. With a zero drop-out rate, every student at Capitol Prep graduates and attends a four-year university.

While Perry may be successful now, his journey to the top was not easy. Unlike Rice, Perry grew up in a single parent household. Before he could learn to tie his shoes, he was kicked out of preschool.  The disobedience only escalated from there.

After a while, reality hit and Perry came to realize that time waits for no one. He went on to receive several degrees including his doctorate. Today, Perry is one of the most respected principals in Hartford.

The special also featured the success stories of actor, writer, and producer Tyler Perry, two high school students who receive the opportunity to travel to South Africa to embark upon a life changing experience, and legendary actress Cicely Tyson, who broke barriers in the acting industry.

Upon completion of the screening, the panel answered questions from the audience, with one of the biggest topics touching on the black family and marriage.

“I think it is impossible to show exactly what it is like to be black in America in an hour. However, I do think that CNN did a fine job," said  Howard University alumnus Leonard Mohammad. “It’s noteworthy they attempted.”

With more questions to be answered and more issues to be unveiled, the full version of CNN Black In America 2 will premiere on CNN on July 22 and 23 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Victoria Fortune is a contribuiting writer for The Hilltop, the Howard University student newspaper, which originally published a version of this article.



Posted Jul. 20, 2009
< Prev   Next >