Menu 

Oprah Winfrey invokes the spirits of her ancestors in a powerful speech on aspiration and dreaming big

By Nina Steele 

Oprah WinfreyOprah Winfrey gave a rousing and highly inspirational speech at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Thursday, June 7. She was there to celebrate the opening of an exhibition about her successful 25 years fronting the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Her speech started with lines from the now famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech by abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth. She then said this: “It’s impossible to stand in this space, to be in this building and not feel the spirits”. She then proceeded to ask the audience if they too could feel the presence of the spirits. That powerful opening was a sign of things to come, and of course, as a seasoned orator, she didn’t disappoint.

Her speech focused heavily on the life and work of Sojourner Truth as an example of what can be achieved when you have an unwavering belief in yourself, no matter what people around you say. Sojourner Truth’s now famous speech was given in 1851, long before slavery was abolished in the US. Yet, there she was, speaking truth to power.

Self-belief, as Oprah highlighted during her speech, is at the heart of how well our lives will turn out. If you believe in yourself strongly enough, chances are that you will achieve whatever you set your heart on, regardless of how many obstacles are put in your way.

The constant reference to her ancestors gave the speech a certain sacredness. At one stage, Oprah revealed that she calls upon their help when having to make decisions in her business life. Of that she said: “When I walk into any room, when and where I enter, I am already more than I was. I already embody the truth of Maya Angelou’s wise words, when she said ‘I come as one but I stand as 10,000’”.

Even though Oprah’s speech was aimed at a black audience, there is no denying the fact that the underlying message that it conveys speaks to everyone, regardless of colour. The heart of the speech, namely to encourage people to dream big and to believe in themselves, is one that will appeal to most people, particularly those with a desire to better themselves or in need of a little inspiration.

Once again, Oprah Winfrey, as she has done countless times before, is using her voice and her platform to be a force for good. And boy, do we need it, particularly in those rather troubled times.

Speak Your Mind