Rapper and activist Genesis Be was sitting at least a dozen rows back from the stage on May 26 at the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, Colo., when Oprah Winfrey suddenly made a surprise appearance.
Winfrey and author Cheryl Strayed then discussed equity, race, art and creating a better world through action.
One hundred questions from the audience were posed on an app Strayed read from and by a stroke of good luck, Be's question was one of them. "Is there any hope that Mississippi can heal from our generational trauma?" Be asked the most famous native of Kosciusko, Miss.
"You can't move forward unless there is acknowledgement from the person who betrayed and hurt you. The healing begins when you recognize that that's what it is that needs to be healed," Winfrey replied. "Do I see that in the immediate future? No, I don't. And you don't either, that's why you asked. Right?"
"I want to believe and hold onto hope, but as you said, those in power have a huge issue of trying to acknowledge and meet us halfway," Be told her.
Be, who is 32, did not take Winfrey's answer negatively, though. To her, it meant leadership in Mississippi needs to change for healing to occur. That chance encounter with Winfrey set her immediately on a new course—to get more women in Mississippi registered to vote.
"It kind of just gave me that extra little push that I needed to launch this initiative even though I don't have the proper support or backing," Be later told the Jackson Free Press.
'We're Bypassing the Media'
Two days after her interaction with Winfrey, Be announced her new initiative, Pledge to Vote, in a Facebook video. The goal of the initiative is to get 3,000 more Mississippi women registered by June 30 to vote in the gubernatorial election this