I forgot to invite Cicely Tyson to my 50th birthday party. I have always admired her, though I didn't know her well. When I turned 50, she sent me a lovely gift she had knit herself. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness that I chided myself for not including her among the 50 women around my birthday luncheon table.
I decided to make up for it by inviting her to lunch alone, and then thought, Wouldn't it be even more special if Ruby Dee could come?
And thus began the idea of Legends. Oprah takes you through how the Legends Weekend came to be.How the Legends Weekend Came to Be
I started thinking about all the women who'd come before me, many of whom have now passed on—women whose steps created a journey of no boundaries for my generation. I wanted to thank them, celebrate them, and rejoice in their spirit.
I wanted the best for this occasion, so I called in Colin Cowie, the most creative entertaining expert I know. We planned for a year: I delighted in every detail, then handed it over to God and let it become what it was meant to be—one of the greatest experiences of my life. I sent out 25 invitations to women who had been "a Bridge to Now" for me. Eighteen were able to attend.
I sent a separate invitation to 45 "young'uns," women like myself who'd benefited from crossing that bridge. Most of them said, "Yes, I'll be there." They rearranged tours, changed plans, and traveled from Los Angeles, the East Coast, and even Europe, not knowing who else was invited. It was a hallelujah moment when all of us came together for the first time.
Alicia Keys said, "It was like going to heaven and seeing everybody you've always wanted to meet."
Heaven in my living room! Such squealing and laughing I've never heard from grown women. We were giddy. So much energy, talent and power in one place. It was electrifying, and every one of us felt the current. The joy, pride, and deep appreciation we held for one another was overwhelming and humbling.
I've always had fierce respect and reverence for those whose names made history and for the millions whose names did not. People who were so resourceful, resilient and remarkable in their will to keep moving forward. These are the roots from which I've grown. This weekend was the fulfillment of a dream for me: To honor where I've come from, to celebrate how I got here, and to claim where I'm going.
The Weekend Celebration A luncheon, a white-tie ball and a rousing, heart-bursting gospel brunch. The food, the love—the outfits!—and just plain joy in the air…don't get us started. Go inside the Legends weekend celebration !
The Legendary Women Who attended Oprah's Legends Luncheon? Print out this list , complete with a beautiful photograph of all the women, taken by renowned photographer Kwaku Alston.
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The Legends Ball Get an exclusive peek into Oprah's glamorous white-tie gala honoring African-American women who have paved the way for others.