The “Matter of Fact Listening Tour,” hosted by Soledad O’Brien, continues its exploration of difficult issues surrounding race and equity in a new digital presentation, “To Be An American: Identity, Race And Justice.” The special will stream beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, March 18, on WJCL.com as well as matteroffact.tv and other Hearst consumer media digital platforms reaching millions of consumers.
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 WJCL parent Hearst Television. Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien airs Sundays at 10 a.m. on WJCL ABC 22.
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.”
“WJCL 22 is leaning in to find the ways to connect our community,” said WJCL President and General Manager Ben Hart. “These candid conversations mean a lot to facilitate a platform of conversation for Savannah and the Lowcountry to come together.
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