Despite the global success enjoyed by television mogul Oprah Winfrey, many in Baltimore still claim the icon as their own.

   And Winfrey doesn’t seem to mind.

To conclude Equity First, a four-part virtual speaker series launched by Baltimore-based nonprofit Associated Black Charities (ABC), Winfrey has agreed to 

appear in the series’ final installment on Tuesday, November 30 – or Giving Tuesday.

   ABC’s president and CEO, Diane Bell-McKoy will interview Winfrey during a live event in which viewers can sign-up and view online beginning at 6 p.m. EST.

   “The first thing people should know is that we are using Giving Tuesday as a way to celebrate by having Oprah Winfrey and particularly for the African American community to do what it’s always done to make a difference in and for our community,” Bell-McKoy  re smarked.

   “We didn’t need to declare ‘Giving Tuesday’ or anything because we’re always giving in our community. We didn’t have charities or foundations. We had each other,” she insisted.

   Equity First began as an effort to support fair and sustainable solutions to combat institutional and structural racism.

   The conversations have included speakers from various businesses and civic and corporate leaders.

   The organization noted that invited speakers had put equity first in their careers and their passions. 

   Event sponsors include Wells Fargo as Title Event Sponsor, Comcast and Under Armour Foundation as Presenting Sponsors, Bank of America and Whiting-Turner Contracting Company as Gold Sponsors, and Afro News as exclusive Media Sponsor for ABC.

   “When we began, we certainly did not realize that we would have Oprah as our closing speaker,” Bell-McKoy insisted. 

   “We feel very blessed to have achieved that for our series. It means a great deal of significance that someone who is now a world icon came through this doorway of Baltimore and moved on and grew from all the challenges she faced here.”

   Bell-McKoy said many of the charitable organization’s donors are African Americans who, by giving, display confidence in the vital work ABC performs in and around the community.

   “It’s a vote of confidence in terms of saying ‘we know that this is important work,’” Bell-McKoy noted. “We are pushing even harder to change the core issue that’s been stopping all of us from moving forward – structural racism.”

She also dispelled the myth that all donors are wealthy.

   “That’s not true,” Bell-McKoy demanded.

   “The real important thing about giving whatever you can is that it’s a show of your belief that we can make a difference together,” she said.

   “That’s what I want people to know that we have to change the outcome for Black workers. We know that Black workers don’t always have the same opportunities to climb the corporate ladder. We know that businesses don’t always provide opportunities to Black workers, and we know things like transportation can be a factor.”

   Bell-McKoy continued:

“We want people to know that Black people are absolutely not broken. I want people to know that we know what they know. We are excellent and outstanding, and we need people to undo this structural racism that still exists so that they can get to our greatness.”

   Having Winfrey as a guest should help get that message across, Bell-McKoy said.

   Throughout her esteemed career, Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world. 

   As host of the top-rated, award-winning “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” she entertained, enlightened, and uplifted millions of viewers for twenty-five years. 

   Winfrey’s accomplishments as a global media leader, producer, actress, author, and philanthropist have established her as one of the most influential and admired public figures in the world today.

   “Oprah’s participation is phenomenal,” Bell-McKoy exclaimed.

   “We are very blessed, and we understand how this is just so huge to have this interview happening and to have me do the interview with Oprah. This is Baltimore. This is where she lived and spent years, so I think it’s important to see how’s she’s giving back.”

   For more information, visit Virtual tickets for the event are on sale and cost $75 each. All proceeds directly benefit ABC’s efforts to close the racial gap for Black workers in Maryland.

Stacy M. Brown
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