Oprah's very last episode was a love letter to her fans; just her on her stage talking to us, her viewers. Much of it was retread: of her rise to unprecedented success and fame, and of the life lessons Oprah has learned throughout the years. But she did touch on something that hasn't always been front and center when discussing the extreme success of her long-running show: that she is not her best without the energy of the audience.
"I wouldn't be sitting here if it wasn't for your courage," Oprah said "but I am frustrated, I am disappointed, and at times angry that the history does not get carried forth." Oprah was speaking about the Freedom Rides, a months-long Civil Rights demonstration in 1961 organized by CORE and executed by young people risking their life to travel by bus from Washington, D.C. to the Deep South to challenge segregation. Combining historical commemoration with the highly-watched last season of her talk show, Oprah honored these incredible activists with a special segment. Regardless of how you feel about the media mogul, she's bringing an incredible historical legacy to a huge audience and reminding everyone that there's plenty of work left to do. On her show yesterday, the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides, Oprah teared up introducing almost 200 surviving activists of the ride to her show. She also featured filmmaker Stanley Nelson, whose film Freedom Riders will premiere on PBS later this month.
Oprah has made clear throughout this season that because it's the last, she only wants to cover topics and guests of real significance to her—I applaud her for using her platform to raise awareness about the benefits of a vegan diet. That being said, this episode was a real mixed bag.
Oprah and Babs talk about how tough it is to have kids as a working woman—or in Oprah's case, the unambiguous lack of regret in regards to opting out. Skip to 7:30 in the video, where the discussion about having kids starts. Transcript after the jump.
Oprah seems to seek constant validation—in Australia she surprises a pregnant mom super fan and says, "It's me! It's me! It's Oprah!" to the shocked woman—and creates frequent situations that allow her to have those validating moments, which she then broadcasts to millions of people. You know, the usual.
As Nadra put so well yesterday, it's likely few Americans actually spent the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday engaging in civil rights activism or even reflection. And like Nadra, I spent part of the day watching The Oprah Winfrey Show and her retrospective on the program's most memorable discussions on race. So much was discussed during the episode that we thought it deserved more coverage, which hopefully compliments her terrific Race Card series post.