Every soul yearns to be free. In 1997, while I was preparing to play Sethe in the movie Beloved, I arranged a trip along a portion of the Underground Railroad. I wanted to connect with what it felt like to be a slave wandering through the woods, making the way north to a life beyond slavery—a life where being free, at its most basic level, meant not having a master telling you what to do every minute. But when I was blindfolded, taken into the woods, and left alone to contemplate which direction led to the next "safe house," I understood for the first time that freedom isn't about not having a master.

Freedom is about having a choice.

What I know for sure is that we all need to cherish that gift—to revel in it rather than take it for granted. After the hundreds of stories I've heard of atrocities around the globe, I know that if you're a woman born in the United States, you're one of the luckiest women in the world. Take your good fortune and lift your life to its highest calling. Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.

What Oprah Knows for Sure


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