Oprah Winfrey delivered the commencement speech at historically black Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte on Sunday. Oprah told the 300 JCSU graduates collecting degrees and their families she had every intention to speak at the black college. The media mogul commented, “I got calls from members of the press asking me was I going to boycott being here today because of North Carolina and y’all’s issues.”
Oprah added, “And I said, ‘Listen, anybody that knows me knows: I don’t believe in or support any law discriminating against anybody, ever. But I will be at … J.C.!”–“S.U.!,” was heard by the audience in response.
Oprah also said when her long-time partner Stedman Graham, who wears a size 15, realized he packed only one shoe for JCSU’s commencement, she called a friend for help, reported ESPN. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton came through in the clutch. From ESPN:
“In a desperation move about 12:30 a.m. she called Newton, who wears a size 14.
“[He] managed to get his heel in Cam’s shoe,” Winfrey reportedly told the crowd. “So he is standing in Cam Newton’s shoes this morning.”
The crowd roared.”
According to Oprah, Rev. Jesse Jackson’s quote (“Excellence is the best deterrent to racism,” and “Excellence is the best deterrent to sexism”) pushed and motivated her to strive for excellence in every human endeavor.
Oprah proclaimed, “From that day forward, that became my mantra, and I’ve tried in everything I do to be excellent.”
She added, “’Cause even if you flippin’ fries at McDonald’s, if you are excellent, everybody wants to be in your line. Whatever you do that is excellent, people notice you and they talk about you and they say, ‘Did you see that girl over there?’”
Oprah also stated, “Every stumble is not a fall, and every fall does not mean failure.”
“Being human means you will make mistakes. And you will make mistakes, because failure is God’s way of moving you in another direction,” she said.