Lenzy Ruffin Photography Blog

Lenzy Ruffin is a family portrait photographer in Washington, DC. 

America Shapes Oprah

Part 1 of 3 showcasing the Oprah Winfrey exhibition at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. The exhibition is titled “Watching Oprah” and will be on display from June 2018 through June 2019.


This blog post is titled “America Shapes Oprah” and contains content from the “America Shapes Oprah” section of the exhibition. The other two sections, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Oprah Shapes America” are covered in separate posts.

What I love about this first section of the exhibition is how it shows the correlation between the civil rights movement and what one person could accomplish and contribute to society when given an opportunity.

How much better is the world for the contribution that Oprah has made to it? It's absurd that had she been born just five or ten years earlier, she would never have had the opportunity to make that contribution.

The cure to cancer may have died on a slave ship. Holistic healing is all the rage now. Where might we be with modern medicine if the Native Americans hadn't been slaughtered en masse?

Oppression levies an incalculable toll on humanity. We all lose. A lot. This first section of the Oprah exhibition does an excellent job of showcasing how we all benefit when everyone is afforded an equal opportunity to participate.

That's not to say that Oprah has accomplished what she's accomplished in an environment devoid of racial and gender discrimination. She's accomplished what she's accomplished despite those barriers.

But if she'd been born just ten or even five years earlier, some of the doors that needed to be opened for her to accomplish what she's accomplished would not have been open yet and there would probably be no Oprah Winfrey exhibition.

Oprah, as is the case for all African-Americans, stands on the shoulders of those who came before her and made huge sacrifices so that those who came behind them would have a better life. I love how this first section of the exhibition conveys that.

This concludes the “America Shapes Oprah” section of the exhibition. Stay tuned for the next section, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Subscribe to the blog to have that post delivered to your inbox.

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This blog post is part of a long-term series on the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. I know everyone can’t make it to DC to see the museum, so I’m doing what I can to present this epic museum in digestible portions.

Below, you’ll see other posts I’ve done on the museum. Be sure to share with anyone you think will enjoy the series.

Next up…