So began the final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. After 25 years and 4,561 episodes, Winfrey bid farewell to her daytime talk show this afternoon. While there may not have been words to “match this moment,” the hour was filled with other words: funny ones, sad ones, inspiring ones, and poignant ones. The final episode was a platform for Winfrey to thank fans, reflect on the past 25 years, and talk about what she learned.
"It is no coincidence that I always wanted to be a teacher. I ended up with the greatest classroom in the world. And this, my friends, will be our last class for this stage," she said. How was the class? Here’s a recap, in quotes:
"I believe every single event in life that happens is an opportunity to choose love over fear.”
"Live from the heart of yourself"
"Your life is speaking to you. What does it say?"
"You are worthy because you are born. You are here. You alone are enough.”
"You are responsible for your life. And when you know that, everything changes.”
"Nobody but you is responsible for your life. You are responsible for your life. What is your life? What is all life? What is every flower, every rock, every tree? Energy. And you’re responsible for the energy you create for yourself, and you’re responsible for the energy that you bring to others."
"The only time I have made mistakes is when I do not listen.”
"From Day 1, Chicago, you took me in… and you told your friends….I heard you say, ‘Have y’all seen that black girl on TV named Oprah?’"
"You all have been a safe harbor for me for 25 years. What I hope is that you will be a safe harbor for someone else."
"To be embraced by all of you, it’s one of the greatest honors a human being can have."
"Every day that I stood here I knew that this was exactly where I was meant to be."
"From you whose names I will never know, I learned what love is. And this show have been the great love of my life."
"There’s a difference between thinking you deserve to be happy and knowing that you are worthy of being happy. Your being alive makes worthiness your birthright. You alone are enough."
Everyone has a platform, Winfrey said. “Mine is a stage in a studio. Yours is wherever you are, with your own reach.”
"I’ve talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common — they all wanted validation. … They want to know, do you hear me? Do you see me? Does what I say mean anything to you?"
What are the whispers in your life right now? And will you hear it? Your life is speaking to you right now. Will you hear it?
"This is what I was called to do…Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to find it."
Talking about how she got to where she is, Winfrey credited God. Which God? “I’m talking about the same one you’re talking about. The Alpha and Omega. The Omniscience, the Omnipresent, the Ultimate Consciousness, the Source, the Force, the All of Everything There Is, the one and only G-O-D.”
"You also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world. You have the power to change somebody’s life."
"But I’m truly amazed that I, who started out in rural Mississippi in 1954, when the vision for a black girl was limited to being either a maid or a teacher in a segregated school, could end up here. It is no coincidence that a lonely little girl [and here Oprah tears up] who felt not a lot of love, even though my parents and grandparents did the best they could — it is no coincidence that I grew up to feel genuine kindness, affection, validation and trust from millions of you all over the world. From you whose names I will never know, I learned what love is. You and this show have been the great love of my life." "Well, I say, all sweet, no bitter. And here’s why. Many of us have been together for 25 years. We have hooted and hollered together, had our a-ha moments, we ugly-cried together and we did our gratitude journals. So I thank you all for your support and your trust in me. I thank you for sharing this yellow brick road of blessings. …I thank you for being as much of a sweet inspiration for me as I’ve tried to be for you.
I won’t say goodbye. I’ll just say, until we meet again. To God be the glory.”
These mugshots were taken of the Freedom Riders arrested by the local police in Jackson, Mississippi, in the summer of 1961. The men and women pictured had boarded buses in Washington and were heading through the deep South to challenge states who were upholding Jim Crow laws and flaunting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision prohibiting segregation on public transport. They were met by violence at almost every stop and after one of the buses was firebombed outside of Alliston, Alabama, CORE leadership wanted to call off the rides. However, an undaunted (and integrated) group of protesters continued to Mississippi where they were arrested and jailed. Far from being intimidated, their example encouraged even more civil rights workers to head south, and before long Jackson’s jails were bursting.
The Freedom Rides represented a number of firsts for the Civil Rights Movement. This year marks their 50th anniversary. It was the first time black and white Americans joined together en masse to protest segregated conditions in the deep South. The rides (mostly organized by young college students) were a direct action that surprised Southern leaders who didn’t quite know how to deal with nonviolent college students and adults who were willing to risk death and criminal prosecution to force a change in long held norms.
Despite a Supreme Court ruling that outlawed segregation on interstate travel, blacks were subjected to discriminatory treatment. When the Congress of Racial Equality decided to discontinue the rides, young women and men in Nashville refused to let the movement die.
Despite being urged by their parents, older civil rights leaders and the Kennedy administration to abandon the protest, they continued the rides. Ultimately they prevailed and were victorious, but not without great costs. They were beaten, kicked out of school and jailed in Mississippi simply because they decided to take a stand.
“I hadn’t set out to change the world in any way. Whatever I am, it is a culmination of the goodwill of people who, regardless of anything else, saw me as I am, and not as somebody else.”—Marian Anderson