In the December 2003 edition her signature magazine, Oprah used her monthly column to share some of the maxims that fueled her rise. The first was from a speech by the Reverend Jesse Jackson. He told a group of Nashville high school students that they owed it to themselves to "be excellent." Oprah hung that advice on her wall + took it to heart. Over the years, she added her own maxims to the wall, including this quote.
When she was a young reporter in 1969, Oprah convinced her boss to let her cover a speech by Reverend Jesse Jackson at a local Nashville high school. His message made an impact on the aspiring journalist. "Excellence," he said, "is the best deterrent to racism. Therefore, be excellent." When Oprah got home, she wrote that maxim on a poster + hung it on her mirror for inspiration. After decades of striving for excellence ~ not only in her career but also in living and in giving ~ she continues to honor + pass along Jesse's influential advice today. Including, in columns written for O and in her 2016 commencement address at Johnson C. Smith University.