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Soledad O'Brien to bring 'Black in America' to Towson University

 Soledad O'Brien will be at Towson University next Wednesday to lead a discussion of her "Black in America" documentary series. 

"My ultimate goal is to help people have a conversation about race in America," the former CNN anchor said. 

It's likely to be a charged event.  Some students formed a White Student Union on Towson's campus two years ago, with members conducting "safety patrols" at night.  The group is not officially recognized by Towson University because it has not met certain requirements to become a sanctioned organization. Hundreds gathered to rally against the group last year. 

"People are trying to figure out the changing demographics of the nation and where they fit in," said O'Brien, the daughter of an Afro-Cuban mother and an Irish-Australian father who met as students at Johns Hopkins University.  

"To me, it's a great conversation starter.  What does it mean to have a Black Student Union? Why do those exist?" she said. "There is a white student union, but it's so overwhelming they don't need to have meeting."

The event will begin with clips from the "Black in America" series, which has explored issues facing black women and men, including the shaping of tomorrow's leaders and the impact of the financial crisis on black families. 

A panel of Baltimore-area scholars will then lead a discussion on timely topics, such as the backlash created by Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman's post-game rant and the reactions to Coca-Cola's Super Bowl commercial, which depicted people singing "America the Beautiful" in different languages. 

The "Black in America" discussion is set to begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 in Towson University's SECU Arena. 

O'Brien, the CEO of Starfish Media Group, said she is at work on the eighth installment of the "Black in America" documentary series -- an exploration of the historical roots of the controversial "stop and frisk" policing practice.  It is slated to air later this year. 

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