Oprah Winfrey Receives Honorary Doctorate
South African University Grants Her the Ph. D.
"It's Dr. Winfrey to you!"
Oprah Winfrey was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in education on Saturday from the University of the Free State in South Africa.
The 57-year-old mogul, who recently wrapped up her 25-year reign as the queen of the TV, became emotional when she knelt on a padded stool and wasbestowed with the honor before an audience of about 4,500 ecstatic onlookers.
Winfrey, who donned a cap and gown of red and blue, was reportedly given the red carpet treatment in the central farming town of Bloemfontein, where the university is located. The honor is just another form of affection and acceptance that the people of South Africa have shown Winfrey over the years as she continues to win hearts through her humanitarian efforts, such as the Leadership School for Girls Winfrey built there in 2007.
Although Winfrey's schedule is nonstop, she decided to accept the university's offer after reading and being moved by the way its first black rector, Jonathan Jansen, handled a racially charged incident at the school.
In retaliation against integrating their historically white learning institution, four white students made a video humiliating the school's black housekeeping staff by spiking their stew with urine and then videotaping them eating it five years ago. Taking the high road, Jensen advocated on the students behalf and asked that they be counseled and forgiven.
At the graduation ceremony, Winfrey called the cleaners to the stage and referred to them as "heroes":
"What has happened here at Free State in terms of racial reconciliation, of peace, of harmony, of one heart understanding and opening itself to another heart is nothing short of a miracle," stated the Associated Press. "It is truly what the new South Africa is all about."
Winfrey, whose visit overlapped with First Lady Michelle Obama who also visited the country last week, met with her for dinner in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Other luminaries who have been recipients of the Free State honorary degrees include anti-apartheid iconsNelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.