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Timeline: Oprah Winfrey and African-American Literature

[By Kenton Rambsy]

1985 —  Winfrey plays the role of Sofia in the film The Color Purple based on Alice Walker’s
1982 novel.
1986 —  Winfrey plays Mrs. Thomas in the remake of
the film Native Son based on Richard
Wright’s 1940 novel.

1989 —  Winfrey plays Mattie Mitchell the television
miniseries The Women of Brewster’s Place based
on Gloria Naylor’s 1982 novel.
1996 — Winfrey
founds “Oprah’s Book Club.”
1996 — Winfrey chooses Toni Morrison’s 1977 novel Song of Solomon as the club’s first book in September.
1997— Winfrey
chooses Ernest J. Gaines 1993 novel A
Lesson Before Dying
as September’s Oprah’s Book Club selection.
1998 — Winfrey
plays Sethe in the film Beloved based
on Toni Morrison’s 1987 novel. Also, she serves as a producer of the film.
1998 — Winfrey
chooses Toni Morrison’s 1997 novel Paradise
as January’s Oprah’s Book Club selection.
1998 — Winfrey
chooses Edwidge Danticat’s 1994 novel Breath,
Eyes, Memory
as May’s Oprah’s Book Club selection. 
1998 — Winfrey
chooses  Pearl Cleage’s 1997 novel  What
Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day
as September’s Oprah’s Book Club selection.
1998 — Winfrey
hosts week-long Caribbean cruise for 150 of Angelou’s friends in honor of her
70th birthday.
2000 — Winfrey
chooses Toni Morrison’s 1970 novel The
Bluest Eye
as April’s Oprah’s Book Club selection.
2002 — Winfrey
chooses Toni Morrison’s 1974 novel Sula
as April’s Oprah’s Book Club selection.
2003 — Winfrey
hosts 75th birthday celebration for Maya Angelou at Graylyn International
Conference Center estate in Winson-Salem, North Carolina.
2005-2008 — Winfrey
serves as the producer of the Broadway musical The Color Purple based on Alice Walker’s 1982 novel.
2005 — Winfrey
serves as the producer for the made for TV movie Their Eyes Were Watching God based on Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel.
2008 —  Winfrey hosts 80th birthday party for Maya
Angelou at Mar-A-Largo in Palm Beach, Florida.
2011 —  Winfrey hosts Toni Morrison on one of the
final episodes in a series entitled “Oprah’s Most Memorable Guests: The Greatest Lessons on the Oprah Winfrey Show” in
May.