The 90-minute production, featuring a wide array of thought leaders from across the nation, is a special project from Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, the nation’s most-watched syndicated public affairs program, produced by Hearst Television. The “Matter of Fact Listening Tour” will continue throughout 2021 with a series of forums employing the digital platforms of many of Hearst’s consumer media brands, including 33 television stations; newspapers around the country; and many of the world’s most popular magazines — and on Matter of Fact‘s website, YouTube and Facebook Live channels.
The March 18 episode, “To Be An American: Identity, Race And Justice,” follows the initiative’s highly acclaimed first production, “The Hard Truth About Bias: Images and Reality,” which University of Maryland Professor and Brookings Institution Fellow Dr. Rashawn Ray called “the best show that I have been on that addresses #racism”; another guest, Mahzarin Banaji, professor of social ethics in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University who is renowned for her work in the area of implicit bias, plans to add the “Matter of Fact Listening Tour” to her university curriculum. The 75-minute October 2020 debut episode, “The Hard Truth About Bias: Images and Reality,” continues to stream at matteroffact.tv.
Throughout the March 18th program a diverse lineup of guests from academia, literature and entertainment will share personal stories, essays and insights to bring greater understanding to the complex topic of race, identity and belonging. Matter of Fact contributors Jessica Gomez and Joie Chen will provide reports and interviews from around the country, while veteran journalist Ray Suarez will chronicle the history of Chinese Americans who helped build U.S. railroads but were denied citizenship. Viewers will be challenged to address questions such as, “What unites the United States, and what is it that truly makes America exceptional?” The program will open with a citizenship pop quiz, which encourages viewers to think about what those not born in this country must learn in order to become Americans.
“The Matter of Fact Listening Tour explores the beliefs and influences that have the power to bring us together and also divide us,” O’Brien said. “Through the lens of race and equity, we will examine and challenge some of the founding views and principles of our country and our history. Are we bound together by an elegant legal document written in the 18th century, or does a more contemporary set of values that evolves over time lead to a more perfect union? We’ll seek to address these and many other questions at this stop on our ongoing tour.”
“We are proud to continue, and build upon, the important conversations around social inequity and injustice the ‘Matter of Fact Listening Tour’ provided in its debut last fall,” said Hearst Television President Jordan Wertlieb. “These programs are meant to create honest and sometimes difficult dialogue about the zeitgeist of today’s society and I can’t think of anything more timely than to examine what it means to be an American from all perspectives.”
Guests scheduled for the March 18 program include:
- Dr. Ray Block, Jr., Penn State Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies
- Gina Brillon, the Bronx-born comedian, winner of NBC’s Stand up for Diversity contest
- Lydia X. Z. Brown, disability justice advocate, organizer, educator, attorney, strategist, writer and White House honoree
- Raj Chetty, Harvard University William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics and Director of Opportunity Insights, which uses data to identify barriers to economic opportunity
- Stefanie DeLuca, James Coleman Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at Johns Hopkins University and co-author of Coming of Age in the Other America
- Eric Foner, Columbia University DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History, specializing in the Civil War and reconstruction, slavery and 19th century America
- Annette Gordon-Reed, Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University and recipient of sixteen book prizes, including the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in History
- Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter and creator of the 1619 Project
- Shaka King, acclaimed filmmaker and director of the Warner Bros. motion picture Judas and the Black Messiah
- Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute
- Dr. Lilliana Mason, University of Maryland, College Park, Associate Professor of Government and Politics, author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity
- Nikki Pitre, Executive Director of the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute
- Ilyasah Shabazz, educator, activist, author and daughter of civil rights leader Malcolm X
- Jose Antonio Vargas, journalist, filmmaker, immigration rights activist and author
- Edgar Villanueva, Chair of Native Americans in Philanthropy and author of Decolonizing Wealth
- Bruce Western, Bryce Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Justice Lab at Columbia University
- Valerie Rawlston Wilson, Director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy
Hearst is a leading global, diversified media, information and services company with more than 360 businesses. Its major interests include ownership in cable television networks such as A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime and ESPN; global financial services leader Fitch Group; Hearst Health, a group of medical information and services businesses; transportation assets including CAMP Systems International, a major provider of software-as-a-service solutions for managing maintenance of jets and helicopters; 33 television stations such as WCVB-TV in Boston and KCRA-TV in Sacramento, California, which reach a combined 19% of U.S. viewers; newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle and Times Union (Albany, New York); more than 300 magazines around the world, including Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Men’s Health and Car and Driver, and digital services businesses such as iCrossing and KUBRA; and investments in emerging digital entertainment companies such as Complex Networks. Follow us on Twitter @Hearst. To learn more about Hearst, visit hearst.com.
About Hearst Television
Hearst Television owns and operates 33 television and two radio stations serving 26 media markets across 39 states reaching over 21 million U.S. television households. Through its partnership with nearly all the major networks, Hearst Television distributes national content over nearly 70 video channels, including programming from ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, MY Net, MeTV, This TV, Estrella and more. The radio stations are leaders in Baltimore news/talk and rock music listenership. Hearst Television is recognized as one of the industry’s premier companies and has been honored with numerous awards for distinguished journalism, industry innovation and community service. Hearst Television is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hearst.
About Soledad O’Brien
Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning documentarian, journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist, who founded Soledad O’Brien Productions, a multiplatform media production company dedicated to telling empowering and authentic stories on a range of social issues. She anchors and produces the Hearst TV political magazine program Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien and is a correspondent for HBO Real Sports. She is a thought leader, with over 1.3 million Twitter followers, who has a national impact through her speeches, numerous documentaries and her presence on the op-ed pages of platforms like The New York Times and HuffPost. She has anchored shows on CNN, MSNBC and NBC and reported for Fox, A&E, Oxygen, Nat Geo, the PBS NewsHour, WebMD and Al Jazeera America, among others. O’Brien’s work has been recognized with three Emmy awards, twice with the George Foster Peabody Award, three times with the Gracie Award, which honors women in media, twice with Cine Awards for her work in documentary films and also with an Alfred I. DuPont Award.
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