CNN’s Soledad O’Brien to Give Keynote at 'Freed Speech' Civil Discourse Forum Nov. 15

CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien will lead an interactive forum, “Freed Speech: Dialogues on Civil Discourse,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at Pantages Theater, 710 Hennepin Ave., in Minneapolis.

Soledad O'Brien

Co-sponsored by Target and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, the forum has its roots in the college’s annual lectures on civil discourse and other initiatives to address the widespread and growing lack of civility in discourse in U.S. society.

“This year we are excited to be joined by Target to present an expanded program that we hope will be lively and provocative,” said Dr. Terence Langan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “As the public discourse around us becomes more and more uncivil, in the College of Arts and Sciences we think it’s important to consider how people can disagree with each other in respectful and yet productive ways.”

In addition to giving keynote remarks, O’Brien will moderate a panel featuring Laura Brod, a University of Minnesota regent and former Republican state representative; Dessa, a rapper and essayist; Sean Kershaw, executive director of the Citizens League; and Dr. Wendy Wyatt, a communication and journalism professor at St. Thomas.

The forum is free and open to the public; however, space is limited so guests must register beforehand at A postforum reception will be held at Seven Sushi Ultralounge, 700 Hennepin Ave.

The College of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with its board of advisers, launched the civil discourse series with a 2010 lecture by Jon Meacham, then editor of Newsweek. Other speakers have been Harvard political philosopher Dr. Michael Sandel and Georgetown linguistics professor Dr. Deborah Tannen, author of The Argument Culture.