Why Reading Some of the Most Disheartening Documents In Black History Is Good for Oprah

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oprah winfrey
Oprah was the first guest on “The Goop Podcast.” (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Oprah Winfrey has never been shy about opening up about her past and she’s revealing that reflecting on it helps fuel her in times of a crisis — even if it’s relatives from centuries past.

Some of O’s most treasured keepsakes are documents from enslaved Black people and she says looking at them when she’s feeling rundown can be like a reset button for her.

oprah winfrey
(Harry Roseland)

“I will speak their names out loud,” Winfrey says on actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s “The Goop Podcast” Friday, March 9. “I will speak their names out loud — Douglas, and Jenna, and Carrie, and Sarah and Anna — and their ages, and their prices, and remind myself of how far I have come. And no crisis seems that much of a crisis after you look at the names, the ages, the prices of people who were before you — who made this way possible.”

Also, an important piece to her is a 1906 piece of art by Harry Herman Roseland, “To the Highest Bidder,” which depicts an enslaved woman with her enslaved daughter clinging to her.

“When you come in my house, that’s the first thing you see and that is the grounding painting for me,” she said. “That woman, who I’ve named Anna and her daughter Sarah, I don’t even know their story, but I know their story.”

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