Oprah Winfrey is a woman who has accomplished many things during her 63 years of life. Where can you even begin in recognizing one of the most dynamic and influential women of all time?
From hosting her own talk show for 25 years to her plentiful philanthropic efforts to many all across the world. Many may note her ability to build a start-up magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, which is now a magazine for Hearst Corporation. Some may also think about the launch of her own TV channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network, which is available on major cable markets.
There is another aspect to Oprah’s success, and that is her ability to turn all of the riches and fame that she has, to philanthropic causes that change people's lives all over the world. She is one that I admire most because she was able to build one of the greatest empires of all time, while also giving back.
In 2007, Oprah founded the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. This is an all girls boarding school in Johannesburg, South Africa that provides educational opportunities for academically gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds. From the founding of this organization, Oprah has received praise from both Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton. In Time Magazine, Mandela was quoted saying, “The school is important because it will change the trajectory of these girls' lives and it will brighten the future of all women in South Africa. Oprah understands that in Africa, women and girls have often been doubly disadvantaged. They have had the curse of low expectations and unequal opportunities.” In his book Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, Clinton interviewed Oprah on why she founded the school, noting that the school would change the lives of many young women.
The Academy For Girls is not the only educational non-profit organization that she is involved in, but she also donates to Project Cuddle, which rescues hundreds of abandoned babies each year and a huge contributor to Free The Children, an organization dedicated to building schools for children in developing countries. Among those Oprah has also donated to the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, UNICEF, Women for Women International and the World Food Programme, to name a few.
In honor of Black History Month, I chose to recognize someone who has no doubt, influenced the world we live in today. It's not always about the money or the donations, sometimes is the small things that can make a difference.
As Oprah once said, “I don’t think you ever stop giving. I really don’t. I think its an ongoing process. And it’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life.” That is something she has evidently done.