Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States and lockdowns began nationwide, media mogul and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey has been looking for ways to help. After signing a major development deal with Apple TV, she’s been releasing a series of free coronavirus-related content on the platform to help viewers cope with our new reality.
Her most recent “Oprah Talks COVID-19” special on Apple TV covered COVID-19’s Deadly impact on Black America and featured Van Jones and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. Oprah highlighted how Black communities have been ravaged by this disease and the community leaders and organizations that are helping out.
“I think you start at home first, you take care of your own first,” Winfrey told Shadow And Act on a Zoom video call with press.”I wanted to not try to serve the world but go back to the places that had given to me.”
Winfrey started by giving members of her family $15,o00 each. “I sent everybody in my family who I could think of to help,” she shared. Then, she asked herself, “How then do you use what you have to extend that to other people?” That’s why The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation is donating $12 million to non-profit organizations serving those in need during the pandemic in the cities she’s called “home,” over the years: Nashville, Chicago, Milwaukee, Baltimore and Kosciusko, Mississippi.
The funds will support Live Healthy Chicago, NashvilleNurtures, SaintA, The Nia Imani Family Inc., Living Classrooms Foundation, the Center for Urban Families and The Boys and Girls Club of Kosciusko, Mississippi. These organizations provide aid to those dealing with food insecurity, poverty, unemployment, mental health issues, young and single-motherhood, educational needs and more.
“I kept the feeding program going [at The Boys and Girls Club in Mississippi], because those kids otherwise who would’ve been getting lunch at school, wouldn’t have eaten during this time,” Winfrey told Shadow And Act.
“Those kids would’ve been like me. Somebody just asked me a question previously that if this had been the pandemic when I was a kid, what would’ve happened to me? I would’ve gone hungry. I would’ve gone hungry because my mother wouldn’t have been able to get on that bus to go to the suburbs to clean white people’s houses and we would’ve gone hungry,” she shared with tears in her eyes.
“So I am trying to do for those kids who would’ve been me, for those families who would’ve been me, what I would’ve wanted for someone to step up and do.”
Though she won’t be producing any docuseries with these organizations about the work they’re doing during the pandemic, The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Organization will follow up as usual with the organizations receiving grants.
“My philosophy up to this point has been ‘Do not your alms before men to be seen of them,'” she said quoting Matthew 6:1 in the Bible. “I am making public my contribution, because I want to encourage other people of means, or not of means, to give what you can where you can, because it’s going to be needed.”
You can watch Oprah Talks: COVID-19 series for free on Apple TV.
Brooke Obie is the managing editor of Shadow And Act.
Photo credit: Getty