Oprah Winfrey Activism
Oprah Winfrey once said, “I’m going to give them an opportunity to come to my school and be the leaders of Africa, and I’m going to do that one brick at a time - Oprah Winfrey Activism introduction. I’m building a girls academy.” These were Oprah’s first words that led her to start the goal that would forever change the lives of many girls. Oprah Winfrey, the world famous talk show host, has inspired many people with her own stories, thoughts, and actions. She has strong moral values and she shared her opinions about topics such as the importance of a respectable education and influential women with everyone through her talk show. She always looked for opportunities to change the world in any way she found possible. Oprah Winfrey, inspired by her own experiences and values of education in her childhood, built a school in South Africa, and now underprivileged girls with academic and leadership potential have the chance to earn a great education. Oprah’s Experiences, Values, and Inspiration
Although Oprah had many terrible experiences as a child, her education helped her get past all that and inspired her to make a change in education for all kids. Oprah Winfrey was born in the Kosciusko, Mississippi on January 29, 1954. After giving birth, Oprah’s mother left her grandmother to raise Oprah in Mississippi. During the first 6 years of Oprah’s childhood, she learned how to read the Bible, and even at such an early age she developed a great interest for reading. During those young solitary years without her parents, Oprah found an escape in reading books When Oprah reached age nine, her older cousin/babysitter raped her; this added on to her incidences with sexual abuse. During her first teenage years, she became pregnant. Sadly, her baby died during early infancy Oprah’s tragic experiences made her pass a rough stage in her life, and she passed a rough stage in her life. However, in the years afterward, things started to take a turn for the
better. Oprah moved into her father’s home and he encouraged her to finish her education. Years later, Oprah earned a scholarship to Tennessee State University where she majored in speech, communication, and performing arts. In 1976, she moved to Baltimore to take the role of the co-anchor of the newscast on WJZ-TV. Instead, two years later, they made her the host of a local talk show, People Are Talking. These small opportunities started up her career and helped her in a life-changing way (Winfrey, Oprah). During Oprah’s childhood, she faced many horrible problems and reading and learning helped her get past all of that. Because of her education as a child, many opportunities, including the talk show, were presented to her in her future. That talk show helped begin her road to fame, and her determination to use her power and fame to inspire others and gain attention to important topics started at that moment. Oprah had many big ideas about different topics especially the importance of education. She explained, “My own success has come from a strong background in reading and learning. The greatest gift you can give is the gift of learning” (Winfrey, Oprah). This was Oprah’s purpose worth fighting for. Inspired by her own troubles as a child, Oprah wished to make a change in the education of children, and that became her next goal. She soon set out on the path to do just that. Oprah’s Education Activism
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When Oprah decided to begin changing the world’s education, she started off with opening a school for young girls with a low family income. She understood that in order to start changing the world’s education, she had to start somewhere. She announced her intentions to build a school in South Africa in 2005. Oprah used more than $40 million of her own fortune to create a state-of-the-art campus that featured a 600-seat theater, a full-service hair salon, and a 10,000-volume library, and many more luxuries (Oprah Beams at First Graduating Class in Her South Africa School). She intentioned on making the school a safe haven for the girls, just like a home: a place where they could study, learn, be inspired, and feel safe (Oprah.com). However, the environment of the school only represented one thing Oprah had to take into consideration; she had to decide what the girls must learn to increase their knowledge to face the difficulties of the world. She made sure they learned the basics of biology, math, literature, and science. She also understood that in order for the girls to transform
into true leaders, they needed more than simply the knowledge. She hired a variety of experienced women to help the girls mature into poised, self-confident, and polished women (Oprah Beams at First Graduating Class in Her South Africa School). Oprah decided to open this school in order to give girls the ability to fulfill their dreams. Without this school and this opportunity, these girls could not accomplish them. Oprah selected the students wisely because she was giving a once in a lifetime chance. An opportunity for a great proper education in south Africa rarely occurred, so she wanted her girls to take advantage of it. The girls that Oprah admitted into her school must know how knowledge and education represented empowerment, something she was very familiar with. Oprah also taught her girls to recognize that they were not limited by their circumstances, and they had they ability to do anything with the right opportunities. Oprah’s School: the Change
After the girls received their education, they would have the potential to represent leaders and make a change in their community. Once the students graduate, they would be trained in decision making, critical and expansive thinking, social responsibility, and the rewards of giving back to one’s own community. They would become the new leaders of South Africa and lead their country and the world to peace, progress, and prosperity (Oprah.com). Oprah opened this school so that girls who had the desire to follow their dreams and become powerful people had the opportunity to do so. The students had many plans for their future: to become astronauts, teachers, and doctors to care for AIDS victims from where they lived; the ideas were endless. All the students had different dreams, but they all shared the desire to do something to help their community. Oprah once explained, “You know there are 250 million girls who are in poverty in the world, and the only we are going to change that is through education of those girls. And you know, when you save a girl, you save a family, you begin to save a community, you begin to really change the consciousness of the way a community operates, when you save a girl” (Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy). Oprah related to her own experiences here. As a child she faced many difficulties, but her education saved her. She accomplished so many things, she helped her community in so many ways, and it’s all because of her education. She now desired to help
other girls do the same. She understood the phenomenon that happened when you save a girl because she firsthand personally experienced it. She also said, “This is an experiment really for the greater picture of what needs to be done in the world, and I wanted to prove to myself and to the world that it could be done. So I hold in my heart not only this vision for these girls, but I also hold the global vision for girls all over the world” (Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy). Oprah wished to see if she had the capability to complete this task: to give the opportunity of education. She found out that she did when 72 out of the 75 girls of her first class graduated in January 2012. Since she could help these girls, she now had a much broader goal; to help all of the girls in the world. In conclusion, knowing the importance of a good education, Oprah was determined to start a school in South Africa to educate young underprivileged girls.
Oprah’s past included some horrible events difficult to look back on. However, she used those events as an inspiration to do something about it. She received a great education and when she got her first job, she knew her education played a big part in her success. Oprah decided she wanted to build a school in South Africa where she would give the opportunity for girls to earn a great education, just as she did. With their education and leadership potential, they would represent their communities and nation and symbolize the new leaders who have the ability to make a change. Oprah Winfrey’s activism not only helped give those girls a chance to become powerful influences like her, but it also helped show the importance of a good education and every possibility that came with one.