African-American History Term Paper

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Outstanding Black Americans Change Racial Viewpoints

One of the first black spokespersons ever to come into the living rooms of millions of white Americans was Oprah Winfrey. Prior to that black Americans excelled in sports. They might have seen Mohammad Ali in a boxing match. Black Americans were gaining recognition in politics. Of course, there was the memory of Martin Luther King. The flamboyant Jesse Jackson was often on news programs. Oprah Winfrey was the one black person who not only gained entry into millions of living rooms but also was welcomed warmly. For years Black Americans gained recognition for their ability in baseball, basketball, football and tennis. But it was Oprah who changed the viewpoints of millions of Americans who identified with the compassionate woman. She not only became a household name, but a woman whom viewers held in high esteem regardless of their race. Her political agenda transcended party lines. She wanted to make a difference for black people, and to make this world a better place. She is respected for her ethical and moral approach to the issues of today. "Her style reached out and connected with what every woman was thinking because she asked the questions and said the things that they understood." (Mair 78) There weren't a lot of black people on Chicago television in 1985, but Oprah's show A.M. Chicago was a big hit. (Mair 80)

On national TV Oprah became an enormous influence. "Oprah's impact on everything she does is dynamic, as has been her effect on sales of books she endorses on her show." (Mair 123) She personally introduced such writers as Marianne Williamson, and Dr. Deepak Chopra to the American people. Their book sales soared after appearing on her show. (Mair 124) In 1987 she took a bold step and brought her show to "Forsyth County, Georgia, from which blacks had been banned since 1912." (Mair 125) This was the first of many shows through which Oprah felt she made people rethink their racial prejudices.
Now she has extended her voice through the pages of the Oprah Magazine.

From the beginning of her career "Oprah came across as genuine and warm." ((Mair 41) Her first talk show experience was as a cohost on a local show called People Are Talking. "Oprah blossomed because the show's format allowed her to freewheel with guests and the studio audience." (Mair 48) This was the beginning of a career that would take her to Chicago, and then into the national limelight. She brought many others with her including introducing Maya Angelou to a wider audience. In 1993 Maya Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning," at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. (King 42) It was an amazing feat for a woman who had grown up so poor her mother sent her to live with her grandmother, while she worked in the city. Her success started young. "Maya, who had always been a good student, was given a scholarship to attend the California Labor School when she was fourteen years old." (King 24)

Before she started her writing career, she acted in theater productions and toured Europe in Porgy and Bess. She worked in West Coast nightclubs to earn a living. (Angelou 3). One of the great moments of her life was when she met Rev. Martin Luther King. "His rich voice and stirring message of brotherhood and sisterhood left quite an impression." (King 35) Her entertainment life brought her into contact with….....

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