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Monday, May 14, 2007

Winfrey speaks to Howard Grads

A tearful Oprah Winfrey accepted an honorary docorate and gave a 20 minute commencement address at Howard University Saturday.

It happened under a huge blue-and-white tent, amid the cheers and applause of 2,200 soon-to-be graduates of the nation's most prestigious black university.

School President H. Patrick Swygert handed Winfrey an honorary doctorate in humanities, declared her a "citizen of the universe" and added, "We now name you a daughter of Howard University."

And the media mogul, philanthropist, actress, producer and educator welled up, as the students and their families applauded and frantically snapped pictures of her.

"You can receive a lot of awards in your life, but there is nothing better," she said before breaking off to catch an emotional breath, "there is nothing better than to be honored by your own."

She delicately wiped tears from beneath her eyes and accepted a handkerchief from Swygert, who later promised to add it to the university's permanent archives.

Then she delivered a 20-minute commencement address in which she hammered home one of her well-known themes: "I'm here to tell you today, 'Don't worry. Don't worry about it. Relax. . . . All you have to know is who you are.' "

Her grandmother, a maid, once told her, " 'I hope you grow up and find some good white folks to work for.'

"I regret that she didn't live past 1963 and see that I did grow up and get some really good white folks working for me," she said.

Continue reading: Oprah at Howard

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