Soledad O’Brien Takes Viewers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for Special PBS NewsHour Series

Washington, DC (October 12, 2015) – The PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will air “Congo’s Hope,” a series of three segments with contributing editor Soledad O’Brien to premiere on tonight’s broadcast (check local listings) and continue this week. In July 2015, O’Brien traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to explore three stories portraying the resiliency of people in the nation, trying to fight back from war and misery.

Part one tells the story of Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo, who grew up in Lubumbashi, the mining capital of Congo. He recently returned to his homeland with the non-profit group Eastern Congo Initiative. The organization is working to create a sustainable society for the region using natural resources. Biyombo discussed with O’Brien how he hopes to use his influence to create a better version of the community he once knew. In part two, O’Brien talks with Petna Ndaliko and other Congolese filmmakers about why rebuilding the once vibrant Cinema Virunga theater is so important for the community. And in part three, O’Brien speaks with Emmanuel de Merode, an anthropologist, Belgian prince, and chief warden of the Virunga National Park, one of the most fought-over national parks in the world, who explains how electricity is key to Congo’s future.

“We are excited to be able to tell the story of people who are investing in Congo at a moment of great transformation,‎ at a time when the country is fighting to emerge from the paralysis of poverty and war to open a period of economic development and hope,” said O’Brien. “Our story of the efforts to reopen a defunct cinema show how culture perseveres against terrible odds as long as individuals make a commitment to keep it alive. Meeting Emmanuel de Merode and seeing the lush mountain preserve and its remarkable gorillas was inspirational as it shows how one man’s determination ‎and bravery has the potential to save and rescue and recover from the worst harm that others can do. We joined Bismack Biyombo ‎for an emotional return to his homeland and got a window into how Congo can bring itself back from some of the most horrible conditions possible.”

PBS NewsHour executive producer and SVP Sara Just said “The people of the Congo have seen so much suffering in recent years and yet there is so much hope there too. The three individuals that Soledad introduces us to in this series are devoted to making a different future for this country, one that includes self-empowerment, sustainability and joy. I’m so delighted to have Soledad contributing to the NewsHour and bringing us these powerful stories. She is a tremendous journalist who finds the humanity in every story.”

O’Brien is an award winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor, and producer. She was the originator of CNN’s “Black in America” and “Latino in America.” Earlier in her career, O’Brien co-anchored NBC’s “Weekend Today” and contributed to segments on the “Today” show and “NBC Nightly News.” In 2003, she joined CNN where she was the face of the network’s morning news shows, and in 2011 was the recipient of an Emmy for “Crisis in Haiti Report” on Haitian orphanages, following the massive earthquake. In 2013 she won two Emmy awards for reporting on “Kids and Race” and for CNN’s reporting of the 2012 presidential election.

About PBS NewsHour                                                                                                 

PBS NewsHour is seen by over four million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets, and via podcast. PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with WNET in New York. Major funding for PBS NewsHour is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers. Major corporate funding is provided by BAE Systems, BNSF and Lincoln Financial Group with additional support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Lemelson Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Friends of the NewsHour and others. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at www.pbs.org/newshour. On social media, visit www.facebook.com/newshour on Facebook or follow @NewsHour on Twitter.

Media Contact: Nick Massella
Director of Audience Engagement and Communications, PBS NewsHour
nmassella@newshour.org