Soledad O'Brien: Jesse Jackson Told Me I 'Didn't Count' As Black
In her new book, "The Next Big Story," CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien recounts an exchange she had with Jesse Jackson, where the civil rights leader told her she "didn't count" as a black anchor on the network.
In an excerpt of the book posted on CNN, O'Brien writes that, in 2007, she met privately with Jackson, who complained about the relative lack of publicity that CNN was giving to its black personalities. O'Brien, who has a black mother and a white father, agreed with him. But then, she writes, Jackson complained that there were no black anchors on CNN at all:
Does he mean covering the campaign, I wonder to myself? The man has been a guest on my show... I interrupt to remind him I'm the anchor of American Morning. He knows that. He looks me in the eye and reaches his fingers over to tap a spot of skin on my right had. He shakes his head. "You don't count," he says.
O'Brien writes that she was confused about what Jackson meant -- was she not black, or not black enough, or did her show not count to him?
"I was both angry and embarrassed, which rarely happens at the same time for me," she writes. "Jesse Jackson managed to make me ashamed of my skin color which even white people had never been able to do."
Later, O'Brien called Jackson and reminded him what he had told her. He claimed not to have known about her racial background.
Read the full excerpt from "The Next Big Story" here.