Just 40 days after the death of her beloved father, Soledad O’Brien is now mourning the loss of her mother Estella O’Brien.
The journalist announced her mother’s passing Monday by posting a Twitter thread, featuring family photos celebrating her mother’s life.
“My mom died today. Joining my dad who passed away 40 days ago. She was a pretty remarkable lady,” wrote O’Brien.
“An immigrant from Cuba, she lived with the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore during college. Here (on the left) she is in Cuba in the 1930s,” she continued.
O’Brien went on to share more details about her mother’s experiences as an immigrant, including her being unable to return to her home country because of its restrictions on citizens’ rights.
“She always was sad about leaving Cuba—but hated how Castro had destroyed her country. She went back once to visit—and said—I’ll never go back again. I love this photo,” she recalled. “Maybe the early 40s? Here are her mom and dad, Luz and Jose, at the famous La Floridita Bar in Havana. They were a very poor family. My mom was able to leave Cuba to get an education in the U.S.”
O’Brien continued, “She learned two more languages fluently—English and French, and became an educator. She had a reputation for being super-strict, which made me very popular (not!) since she taught at my high school.”
“She and my dad sent all six of us to college and many of us to grad school. Here we are touring Harvard. I’m scowling in the front row, age 12,” the journalist recalled.
O’Brien also highlighted the struggles her parents faced as an interracial couple.
“She’d go on to marry my dad (mixed race marriages were illegal in Maryland in 1959). The year their sixth child (my little brother) was born the US Supreme Court would overturn the ban on interracial marriage,” she shared.
O’Brien then revealed her mother’s commitment to standing for what was right even if doing so meant she would be singled out. “She put this ad in our local paper when I was a kid—to protest discriminatory housing in our town,” she wrote.
“We were the only Black family in our neighborhood, so it didn’t win her a lot of friends,” she explained.
“She was pretty awesome. But mostly I wish lots of young, working women had access to her wisdom,” she wrote.
O’Brien ended by asserting that her mother “was pretty great,” and based on what we learned we can’t say we disagree.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to O’Brien and her family at this difficult time.