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CNN's 'Black in America' nearly Obama-less

July 11, 2008 |  1:00 pm

With Sen. Barack Obama in the news, the timing appears to be perfect for CNN’s “Black In America,” its documentary series examining African American life and culture.Soledad_2

But Soledad O’ Brien, the project’s anchor, said not only does Obama not have a starring role in the documentary, he is barely mentioned. Executive producer Mark Nelson said that Obama is in only about 30 seconds of the documentary.

“We started doing this about 18 months ago, before Sen. Obama’s candidacy really gained traction,” O’Brien said Friday during a session for the project, which premieres July 23.

Most of the focus is on the black middle class, something often overlooked by the mainstream media, O’Brien said. One installment, “The Black Woman and Family” explores issues such as single parenthood and the AIDS epidemic in black communities, while “The Black Man,” which airs July 24, explores the controversies surrounding black men and fatherhood, and the dramatic rates of black male incarceration.

O’Brien became especially animated during the session when talking about how young black males have to deal cautiously with the police, no matter what their socioeconomic class. She and Nelson pointed out how comedian D.L. Hughley had to advise his young son how to act if confronted by law enforcement.

“It’s a conversation every black father has to have with his 11-year-old son, no matter where they come from,” O’Brien said.

-- Greg Braxton

Photo: Soledad O'Brien. Getty Images