Why Now Is the Time for Oprah to Honor Civil Rights Legends

Aired on 01/18/2015 | CC tv-pg
In 2005, Oprah hosted a three-day celebration of legendary African-American women like Dr. Maya Angelou, Coretta Scott King, Ruby Dee, Cicely Tyson and many more whose accomplishments helped pave the way for her. Now, almost a decade later, Oprah hosts a gala of events to honor 14 extraordinary men and women involved in civil rights, arts and entertainment.

After working as one of the producers of the Oscar®-nominated film Selma, Oprah says, it became clear to her that now was the time to pay tribute to these legends. The weekend kicked off with a private screening of Selma, which was followed by dinner and dancing.

"This will be one of the few, or last, times you will have all of those people in the same room, connected in the same space for a gathering or celebration of themselves in this way," Oprah says. "I think several of the Legends said to me during the weekend, 'How wonderful to be honored while we're still alive.' And I was really, really, really glad that I made the decision to do this, and to do it now and not wait."

In the above video, see what special gift Oprah gave the 14 honorees, and watch the portrait shoot.

More from Oprah Winfrey Presents Legends Who Paved the Way

Learn more about OWN's special monthlong celebration of the civil rights movement