CNN analyst encourages blacks to strive for dreams, much like Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:43 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Carlos Watson, a political analyst for CNN, said regardless of skin color, the only way for people to succeed in the new century is to discover what they love to do regardless of risk.

Saturday evening, he gave a speech for Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration day in MU’s Memorial Hall. Watson joined CNN in 2003. Since then he’s been writing opinions and commentaries on current events as well as a weekly column for “The Inside Edge with Carlos Watson” for

Watson said he became successful only by “stepping out of line” and going against his entire family by founding “Achieva College Prep Services,” an educational consulting company that he sold in 2002.

Watson said the situation has improved a lot for blacks since King’s time, but said people of color must not waste opportunities to bring about social changes. As a stark example, he said the Congress now has 43 “smart and savvy” black representatives, as opposed to King’s time when there were only three. He said this is the “door of opportunity” and black people must not let it close. King would appreciate this change and keep pushing for changes, he said.

When asked to comment on the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina and what some perceived as a bias against black people, Watson said it was a good example of the need for more diverse media. “I’m not sure that what I saw there means only pessimism,” he said. He saw hope in the fact that many people stepped in to help, he said.

Watson was asked if being a Harvard and Stanford graduate played an important role in his success story. Watson said it’s not easy even when you have top-school degrees. Watson felt underprivileged because of his race many times while growing up in America, a feeling he said ”goes without saying.” He believes black people with no affluent background can still succeed and “maybe go even further.”

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