“What I know for sure is that the choice begins and ends with you,” offers Oprah Winfrey to the 550 young women receiving their bachelor’s degrees at Spelman’s 125 Commencement Ceremony. “You are me. You represent who I am, who I have been and who I can be in the world.”
Oprah joined Spelman’s president Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, who rolled out the Carolina blue carpet for honorary degree recipients Dazon Dixon Diallo, HIV/AIDS advocate, and Anna Deavere Smith, actress and social change agent; Spelman alumnae, including the Golden Girls and Diamond Daughters; and 2012 graduates.
“[Today] is the day that we celebrate and pay tribute to the spirit of God’s good grace and the love and generosity of those who have supported you throughout your Spelman journey now culminating in this ceremonial moment,” opens Tatum. “Much has changed since the humble beginnings of our school in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church. One thing remains constant – a commitment to excellence and education for the purpose of social transformation. Community uplift was the goal and education was the means. Throughout the years, Spelman College has remained true to its mission: a historically black college and global leader in the education of women of African descent, dedicated to academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, and the intellectual, creative, ethical and leadership development of its students.”
“I want to share with you what two of my favorite mentor teachers Toni Morrison and Aunt Maya Angelou have said to me: ‘Your crown has been paid for. Put it on your head and wear it’,” commands Oprah, who received an honorary degree from the women’s institution in 1993. “About the time I received my honorary doctorate from Spelman, I took a long look at what I was doing on TV and made a decision that I was no longer going to just be on TV, that I was going to use TV as a platform, as a force for good and not be used by TV. I am going to tell you that my decision to make that significant change in the way I operated on television – using television as a service [a way of giving back to the world] – changed my career exponentially. Service and significance equal success.” – yvette caslin