Oprah Winfrey has assembled a slew of Black artists, activists, academics, and politicians for an upcoming two-night town hall on systemic racism in America. The program, titled “OWN Spotlight: Where Do We Go From Here?” will feature Winfrey in conversation with a number of guests to discuss the ongoing protests and demonstrations against police brutality that have broken out across the country after the death of George Floyd.
“I’ve been having private conversations with friends and thought leaders about what’s next and where we go from here,” Winfrey said in a statement, per Variety. “I thought it would be both of interest and service to bring their ideas, concerns, and comments into a national spotlight.”
"Where do we go from here?"
@Oprah is sitting down with Black thought leaders to guide us all in conversation and create plans for our future. Join us Tuesday and Wednesday at 9|8c for a two-night #OWNSpotlight special. pic.twitter.com/a6sOC2uDRk
— Oprah Winfrey Network (@OWNTV) June 4, 2020
The guest list for the televised event will include Ava DuVernay, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones, and anti-racism scholar Ibram Kendi. Selma star David Oyelowo will also be part of the event, as will journalist and author Charles Blow, Color of Change founder Rashad Robinson, and NAACP national board member Rev. William J. Barber II.
The two-night event will air on June 9 and June 10 on OWN. The network’s parent company, Discovery, will also air the program on its 18 other networks, including TLC, the Discovery Channel, and HGTV.
The town hall arrives after days of unrest as protests have taken place across the country, often exploding into violence in cities such as Los Angeles and New York, as police officers beat and arrest numerous protesters marching in defiance of arguably dangerous and poorly devised curfews. It wasn’t until after the protests began that officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao were arrested and charged with Floyd’s murder, though arrests have still not been made for other recent victims of police brutality, like Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade.
Winfrey’s town hall also arrives days after former president Barack Obama addressed the nation in a town hall of his own. “When sometimes I feel despair, I just see what’s happening with young people all across the country and the talent and the voice and the sophistication that they’re displaying, and it makes me feel optimistic,” Obama said. “It makes me feel as if this country is going to get better.”
Prior to that, Winfrey released a statement of her own about Floyd, tweeting her thoughts on his brutal death. “We speak your name,” she wrote. “But this time we will not let your name be just a hashtag. Your spirit is lifted by the cries of all of us who call for justice in your name!”
By Yohana Desta