Oprah in Forsyth County, Georgia

Race in Forsyth County, Georgia—1987
Just months after The Oprah Show's national debut, Oprah made headlines when she visited Forsyth County, Georgia, a community in which no black person had lived for 75 years. There, Oprah found a hotbed of racial tensions and divisive opinions, until one brave woman stood up and said it was time for a change. "I just hate to think that someone is going to get hurt before the people get some sense about them and talk about this and get it like it's supposed to be...black and white together in Forsyth County. There's no other way," she said. 

Read what happened when The Oprah Show returned to Forsyth County in 2010
Oprah in Williamson, West Virginia

AIDS in a Small Town—1987
In 1987, the small town of Williamson, West Virginia, became the epicenter of a national conversation about homosexuality and AIDS. When Mike Sisco, Mike Sisco, a gay man with the disease, jumped into a local swimming pool the town flew into an uproar. At the time, misinformation about how the disease was spread touched off a full-blown panic in Williamson—and Oprah was there to hear all sides of the story.

Read what happened when The Oprah Show returned to Williamson in 2010
O.J. Simpson

Photo: AP

The O.J. Simpson Verdict—1995
In 1995, O.J. Simpson, a former NFL running back-turned-actor, stood trial in Los Angeles for the double murder of his wife and her friend. With its potent mix of race, class, celebrity and violence against women this truly was the "trial of the century." Like more than half of the American public, Oprah and her Chicago studio audience watched live as the jury read its stunning verdict—not guilty. While she tried to keep a detached journalistic front, Oprah later revealed her true reaction: "Are you kidding me?"

Over the years, Oprah has revisited the story several times with key players in the trial, including the prosecutor Christopher Darden and the LAPD detective on the case, Mark Fuhrman.

Watch Oprah reveal to Mark her dream of interviewing O.J., and what she wishes he'd tell her
Oklahoma City attacks

Photo: AP/Jim Argo

Terrorism in Oklahoma City—1995
When domestic terrorists detonated a bomb in the federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, they killed 168 people including 19 children in the building's day care center. The next day, Oprah went to Oklahoma City. In a local hospital she visited Brandy Ligon, the last survivor pulled from the rubble. She also spoke with Michael Treanor, whose parents and 4-year-old daughter Ashley were killed in the attack.

Read what happened when Oprah followed up with survivors of the attack in 2009
The Little Rock Nine

Little Rock Nine Reunion—1996
In 1957, nine black teenagers were the first students to integrate Arkansas' Little Rock Central High School. The nation watched as these young students were barred from going to class by the National Guard. In 1996, every one of the Little Rock Nine appeared on The Oprah Show to talk about their bravery in the face of racist hostility.
John F. Kennedy Jr.

John F. Kennedy Jr.—1996
"I've waited all my life to interview John-John!" Oprah said when introducing her rare 1996 interview with John F. Kennedy Jr. John had just delivered a speech introducing his uncle Ted at the Democratic National Convention, launched a new magazine called George and was just days away from a secret wedding to Carolyn Bessette.

The world mourned when John and Carolyn died in a plane crash over the Atlantic in 1999. In November 2010, on what would have been John's 50th birthday, Oprah looked back at her interview and remembered America's prince.
The headline says "Oprah Wins"

Texas Cattlemen v. Oprah—1998
After a guest on an episode of The Oprah Show made a comment about tainted beef and Mad Cow Disease, a trade group of Texas beef producers filed a defamation suit against Oprah. Instead of shutting down during the trial, Oprah brought her show on the road. She taped The Oprah Show for more than a month in 1998 in Amarillo, Texas, spending her days in court and her nights in the studio. "It was one of the most stressful times I've ever personally experienced," Oprah said.

Oprah says her friendships with Celine Dion, Halle Berry and John Travolta strengthened during the trial, which she won. "That trial was one of the most significant life-changing moments," Oprah says.
Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela—2000
In 2000, Oprah interviewed "universal hero" Nelson Mandela, the first black president of postapartheid South Africa. After spending 27 years in prison, he was freed, declared himself free of bitterness, and worked for reconciliation between the whites and blacks of his nation. "It is one of the greatest honors of my career to welcome Nelson Mandela," Oprah said.
George Bush at Ground Zero

Photo: Getty Images

The 9/11 Attacks
September 11, 2001 was the first time The Oprah Show ever had to cancel a taping. The terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania instantly transformed America into a nation in mourning. On September 13 and for the next several weeks, The Oprah Show highlighted the lives of people who had lost their lives, and helped Americans deal with the tragedy. "We will never forget," Oprah said.

Oprah has revisited the aftermath of 9/11 several times, from speaking with the children of victims of 9/11 in 2007 to asking former president George W. Bush about his reaction to the attacks.
Nate Berkus

Indian Ocean Tsunami—2004
The day after Christmas 2004, a tsunami originating in Indonesia swept through the Indian Ocean. More than 230,000 people were killed in one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. The Oprah Show's Nate Berkus was on vacation with his partner, Fernando Bengoechea, the day the tsunami hit. Nate survived, but, tragically, Fernando died.

Just weeks later, Nate told his harrowing story. "I climbed back up on the post and I thought to myself, 'I am going to die if I don't get on top [of the roof],' and somehow I was able by just squeezing the side of the rooftop to pull my whole body on top of it," Nate said. "On the rooftop, I just started calling out for Fernando and looking all around and just was expecting for him to say, 'I'm here' or 'I'm hurt' or 'I'm in this tree.'"
Dr. Oz in New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina—2005
In September 2005, the massive storms Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita came ashore in the Gulf Coast. The flood waters caused the levee wall system in New Orleans to break down, and the city, some of which is located several feet below sea level, filled with water. The Oprah Show reported from New Orleans, Houston and Mississippi in a two-part look at the devastating conditions of those affected by the storm.

In 2006, Oprah fulfilled a promise to some Katrina and Rita survivors with the opening of Angel Lane in Houston.
Oprah and Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel—2006
After Oprah chose the Nazi death camp survival story Night by Elie Wiesel for her Book Club, she and the legendary author and humanitarian visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland. Inside one of the barracks at the prison, Professor Wiesel told Oprah about his memories of those who died here. "When I come here, I'm not really alone. I'm with you, but I'm not only with you," he said. "They are around us. ... I think of them all the time, but here even more so."
Barack Obama

Obama Wins—2008
On November 5, 2008, Oprah and her studio audience celebrated the election of Chicago's own Barack Obama as 44th president of the United States.

Throughout the two-year campaign season, Oprah vowed not to use her show as a platform. "I kept my mouth shut and supported Barack Obama as a private citizen," she said. "Today, though, the election is over—and I'm unleashed!"
Oprah and Elizabeth Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards Exclusive—2009
In 2009, Oprah sat down for the exclusive first interview with Elizabeth Edwards after husband, former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards, went public with news that he'd had an affair with another woman.

A year later, Oprah sat down with Rielle Hunter—John Edwards' "other woman"—for a candid one-on-one interview
Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson—2010
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, made international headlines when a British tabloid caught her accepting a bribe in exchange for access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew. In 2010, "Fergie" sat down with Oprah in Los Angeles and apologized for her "gross stupidity."
Oprah and Dr. William Petit

Dr. William Petit—2010
In December 2010, Oprah sat down for the first interview with Dr. William Petit, the victim of an unspeakable crime. His life was shattered when home invaders murdered his wife and two daughters and burned his home.

"I went to sleep one night in a nice home with a loving family and basically awakened in an emergency room naked on a gurney with no clothes, no family, no home," Dr. Petit told Oprah. "Everything was gone."
Oprah and her sister Patricia

Oprah's Family Secret Revealed—2011
One of the top-rated episodes in recent Oprah Show history grabbed headlines around the world—Oprah introduced her long-lost sister, Patricia! "I think I've seen just about everything and heard every story," she told the world. "I thought nothing could surprise me anymore. But let me tell you, I was wrong."