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By James Barter

A Medieval Knight.

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In addition, Oprah has used her magazine as a vehicle through which to encourage American women to exercise their voting rights. In a 2004 O, The Oprah Magazine column, Oprah soundly reminds women of the sacrifices their suffragist foremothers made for their benefit, and of the potentially disastrous consequences of women’s electoral apathy: I cast a ballot for everybody who came before me and gave their life’s energy so that yours and mine could be a force that matters today. ” . . The most recent statistics are embarrassing and disrespectful to our female heritage—to every suffragette, to every woman who didn’t have a voice but hoped someday her daughters might be heard .

Later, Ellen DeGeneres was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and during that episode several audience members were vehemently opposed to Ellen’s character coming out on the Ellen show. Oprah responded to this controversy by stating that “a lot of people said me being on your show . . was me promoting lesbianism. I simply wanted Oprah Winfrey and Feminist Identification to support you in being what you believe was the truth for yourself ” (Oprah Winfrey, quoted in Borden 1998, A77). This sentiment suggests that Oprah’s greater concern is not the promotion or endorsement of lesbianism, per se, but rather the advancement of women’s independence and freedom, no matter what their sexual orientations may be.

Blackness is something I just am. I’m black. I’m a woman. I wear a size 10 shoe. It’s all the same to me” (Richman 1987, 56). And yet, once again, black community institutions, including those of black women, presented the key opportunities for Winfrey at this stage of her life. Educated in speech and drama at the historically black college, Winfrey received vital on-the-job training as a newsreader at a local soul radio station newly staffed by black disc jockeys and programmers. At the same time, she participated with other women in black beauty pageants, winning the Miss Black Nashville and Miss Black Tennessee titles and finishing as a runner-up at the Miss Black America contest.

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