Black Women in Hollywood: Oprah Winfrey

In her opening speech, Oprah Winfrey passes on wisdom that she learned from her late mentor, the legendary Maya Angelou.

ESSENCE.COM Feb, 20, 2015
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We lost a warrior woman last year. She was bodatious and kind, strong and powerful. She was my mother, my sister, my friend. Mya Angelo. And on the day that I did my first scene for Selma, she passed away. And I can't tell you what it's like to lose a rock, a wisdom source. But I can tell you that the spirit of her abides with me every day. And for my 50th birthday she knew that I appreciated the gift of words, and wrote these words for me that I share and offer to you. For the upliftment of your life and your heart. This is what she said. My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to let humor lighten the burden of a tender heart in a society known for cruelty. To let the people hear the grandeur of God in the pearls of your laughter. Continue. To let your eloquence elevate the people to heights they had only imagined. Continue to remind the people that each is as good as the other, and that no one is beneath you or above you. Continue to remember your own young years, and look with favor upon the lost and the least and the lonely. Continue to put the mantle of your protection around the bodies of the young and the defenseless. Continue. To take the hand of the despised and the diseased and walk proudly in the high street. Some might see you and be encouraged to do likewise. Continue to plant a kiss of concern on the cheek of the sick- And the aged, and the infirmed, and count that action as natural and to be expected. Continue to let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer, and let faith be the bridge that you build to overcome. Evil. And unwelcome good. Continue to spare no vision which comes to enlarge your range, and increase your spirit. Continue to dare to love deeply, and to risk everything for the good thing. Continue to float in the sea of infinite substance, which set aside riches for you long before you even had a name. Continue. And by doing so, you and your work will be able to continue. Eternally. [APPLAUSE]