May 18th, 2011
04:19 PM ET
Only Oprah Winfrey could bring together the group of people assembled inside Chicago's United Center last night.
From actors and athletes to teachers and students. If Winfrey didn’t realize it before, surely she now recognizes the impact of her 25 years on television.
Tom Hanks opened the evening, calling it a “mission impossible” (and on cue, Tom Cruise appears) to surprise Ms. Winfrey on her own show.
What followed can only be described as the Super Bowl of TV talk, with the star power of the Grammys and Oscars combined: Beyonce; Stevie Wonder; Madonna; Queen Latifah; Patti LaBelle; Aretha Franklin; Michael Jordan; Jerry Seinfeld; Jamie Foxx; Josh Groban; Diane Sawyer; Maya Angelou; Halle Berry; Will Smith; Jada Pinkett Smith. It would be a shorter list to tell you which top celebs weren’t there (Winfrey pals Barbra Streisand, Julia Roberts and John Travolta were notable absences for this audience member).
But for all the fame and fortune represented in the room, the real reason Winfrey has attracted millions of people to her show is because her program has reflected their own tales through the years: homelessness, racism, obesity, illiteracy, bankruptcy, abuse, marriage, divorce, job success and struggles for a quality education.
Hundreds of Morehouse men brought Winfrey to tears when they surrounded her on stage, grateful for her scholarship endowment that helped them become doctors, lawyers, hedge fund managers and military officers. Each alum carried a single small light, but as they gathered on stage, their combined energy was awe-inspiring.
And that’s what Oprah Winfrey does. She inspires. She empowers. She moves you to action.
I for one felt a sense of wonderment as I joined this audience in saluting 25 years of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Wonderment at how far she’s come, how far we’ve come, and how much is possible when one person decides to make it her “mission possible," to affect positive change in our world.
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