Oprah’s Legends Ball

OprahsLengendBall

Oprah Winfrey puts on a once-in-a-lifetime celebration honoring 25 legendary women in the fields of art, entertainment and civil rights. “These women, who have been meaningful to so many of us over the years, are legends who have been magnificent in their pioneering and advancing of African American women. It is because of their steps that our journey has no boundaries,” said Oprah Winfrey.

This historic celebration included an unforgettable luncheon, a glamorous white-tie ball and a heart-bursting gospel brunch. The 25 legendary women celebrated include Maya Angelou, Shirley Caesar, Diahann Carroll, Elizabeth Catlett, Ruby Dee, Katherine Dunham, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Nikki Giovanni, Dorothy Height, Lena Horne, Coretta Scott King, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Toni Morrison, Rosa Parks, Leontyne Price, Della Reese, Diana Ross, Naomi Sims, Tina Turner, Cicely Tyson, Alice Walker, Dionne Warwick and Nancy Wilson.

“Young’uns” including Alicia Keys, Ashanti, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Naomi Campbell, Mariah Carey, Natalie Cole, Kimberly Elise, Missy Elliott, Tyra Banks, Iman, Janet Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen and Alfre Woodard, among others.

On Saturday night, it was an elegant white-tie Legends Ball with notable guests, including Sidney Poitier, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Usher, Barbra Streisand, James Brolin, Lionel Richie, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Diane Sawyer, Mike Nichols, Maria Shriver, Chris Tucker, Barbara Walters, Quincy Jones, Spike Lee, Senator Barack Obama and Tyler Perry, among many others.

The finale of the Legends weekend was Sunday’s exuberant gospel brunch with spontaneous performances by Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick and Chaka Khan.

(It’s a 5-part series on YouTube)

Because we are free women,
born of free women,
who are born of free women,
back as far as time begins,
we celebrate your freedom.

Because we are wise women,
born of wise women,
who are born of wise women,
we celebrate your wisdom.

Because we are strong women,
born of strong women,
who are born of strong women,
we celebrate your strength.

Because we are magical women,
born of magical women,
who are born of magical women,
we celebrate your magic.

My sisters, we are gathered here to speak your
names.
We are here because we are your daughters
as surely as if you had conceived us, nurtured us,
carried us in your wombs, and then sent us out
into the world to make our mark
and see what we see, and be what we be, but better,
truer, deeper
because of the shining example of your own
incandescent lives.

We are here to speak your names
because we have enough sense to know
that we did not spring full blown from the
forehead of Zeus,
or arrive on the scene like Topsy, our sister once
removed, who somehow just growed.
We know that we are walking in footprints made
deep by the confident strides
of women who parted the air before them like the
forces of nature that you are.

We are here to speak your names
because you taught us that the search is always for
the truth
and that when people show us who they are, we
should believe them.

We are here because you taught us
that sisterspeak can continue to be our native
tongue,
no matter how many languages we learn as we
move about as citizens of the world
and of the ever-evolving universe.

We are here to speak your names
because of the way you made for us.
Because of the prayers you prayed for us.
We are the ones you conjured up, hoping we
would have strength enough,
and discipline enough, and talent enough, and
nerve enough
to step into the light when it turned in our
direction, and just smile awhile.

We are the ones you hoped would make you
proud
because all of our hard work
makes all of yours part of something better, truer,
deeper.
Something that lights the way ahead like a lamp
unto our feet,
as steady as the unforgettable beat of our collective
heart.

We speak your names.
We speak your names.

– Pearl Cleage

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