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Black in America 2 Explores Innovative Solutions to Challenges Facing Black Americans

CNN’s acclaimed Black in America continues this July with extraordinary and gripping stories of successful community leaders who are improving the lives of African-Americans.  As the network continues to invest in ambitious documentary programming, anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Briencriss-crossed the U.S., and included reporting from Ghana and South Africa, as she uncovered the people and programs at the forefront of change – people inspiring volunteerism, programs that are improving access to quality healthcare and education, and leaders working to address financial disparities and develop strong families

            Today’s Pioneers will debut on July 22; Tomorrow’s Leaders will debut on July 23.  Both two-hour documentaries will air at 8p.m. and 11p.m. ET and PT.  Black in America 2 was filmed in high definition and will be available on VOD on many cable systems shortly after the premiere.

Nearly 16 million viewers saw the 2008 series which included three documentaries and a televised special co-produced with Essence magazine.  Almost 15 million unique users visited’s Black in America report.

“We continue to receive such extraordinary feedback to Black in America.  It’s clear that viewers want serious and substantive news – and CNN is one of the few places on television still committed to delivering in-depth documentaries to them,” said Jon Klein, president CNN/U.S.

For the documentaries, O’Brien reported from Brooklyn, where humanitarian Malaak Compton-Rock has created “Journey for Change,” an innovative program aimed at expanding the horizons, and improving the confidence of economically disadvantaged teens.  O’Brien and Compton-Rock traveled to South Africa with over two dozen teens for two weeks of transformative volunteer service in shanty towns and AIDS orphanages.  

O’Brien also had an extensive interview with media mogul Tyler Perry – and a rare tour of his sprawling film studios in AtlantaGA.  Perry rose from poverty to multi-million dollar success, and as the owner of a major motion picture studio, he talks with O’Brien about the importance of control and creative vision.     

Soledad will inspire viewers with the stories of a heroic oncologist who continues her research in Detroit and Ghana – despite the doctor’s fears about her own recent biopsy, and a principal from HartfordCT, who founded a year-round magnet high school that sends all of its graduates to college.  These stories are not just inspirational, they offer approaches to pressing issues that viewers are facing and can adapt to their lives,” said Mark Nelson, vice president and senior executive producer, CNN Productions.

Black in America 2: Today’s Pioneers – Wednesday, July 22, 8 p.m. & 11 p.m. (two hours) ET/PT

For the debut evening of CNN’s Black in America 2, O’Brien profiles community organizers across the country who are creating progress at a local level.  From an innovative Chicago health clinic that uses barbers to encourage African-American men to seek the medical care they need; toactor/director/playwright Tyler Perry, whose life’s journey has led him from homelessness to becoming a powerful filmmaker and television producer; to the founder of the “Black Marriage Day” project who works with couples in 300 cities to help develop strong, healthy families.  This evening profiles people working in ways large and small to make a difference. 

Black in America 2: Tomorrow’s Leaders – Thursday, July 23, 8 p.m. & 11 p.m. (two hours) ET/PT

The second documentary in the two-night series focuses on people who are developing African-American leaders for tomorrow.  John Rice’s “Management Leadership for Tomorrow” mentors talented African-American professionals to help them rise to positions of power and success in America’s companies.  Compton-Rock’s “Journey for Change” program offers teens the opportunity to see the world and develop self-confidence, and principal Steve Perry’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School prepares African-American students for college. 

CNN & Essence: Reclaiming the Dream – Saturday, August 1 & Sunday, August 2, 8 p.m. (two hours) ET/PT

Moderated by O’Brien, and featuring CNN ContributoRoland Martin, this dynamic forum will include debate and dialogue from Essence Editor-in-Chief Angela Burt-Murray; NAACP President & CEO Ben Jealous; actor/radio talk show host/author Steve Harvey; humanitarian & founder of the Angel Rock Project Malaak Compton-Rock; actor/author/philanthropist Holly Robinson Peete; TV personality Judge Penny Brown Reynolds; actor and AIDS activist Sheryl Lee Ralph; principal of Capital Prepatory Magnet School Steve Perry, Ed.D.; and founder and executive director of the Black AIDS Institute Phill Wilson, exploring creative approaches to community solutions around the country.  The two-hour Reclaiming the Dream is a co-production with Essence magazine that will be filmed at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans on July 4 and will premiere on CNN on August 1.

About Black in America 2

    The Black in America 2 initiative includes two, two-hour documentaries, a co-produced forum for television CNN & Essence: Reclaiming the Dream, and an interactive digital special.  An online genealogy project profiles the dramatic migrations of African-Americans throughout the country’s history and factors impacting the striking demographic shifts.  Additional investigative reports examining pressing issues for African-Americans are also available now on and will also devote in-depth analysis of the CNN/ESSENCE/Opinion Research Corporation poll.   

Black in America 2 is produced by CNN Productions and filmed in high definition.  Mark Nelson is the vice president and senior executive producer for the unit; Jeffery Reid is executive producer for the documentaries; Jeff Kepnes is senior producer for Reclaiming the Dream; Jody Gottlieb is the executive director for CNN Productions. 

About CNN Worldwide

CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is the most trusted source for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; CNN Digital Network, the No. 1 network of news Web sites in the United States; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively syndicated news service; and strategic international partnerships within both television and the digital media.


For more information about this production, or for images, please visit


Jennifer Dargan                    Atlanta                                      404.885.4638                         

Erica Puntel                           Atlanta                                     404.827.1657                                


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