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Online Extra: A Talk with Oprah Winfrey

The media mogul explains a key focus of her charity work: Education is freedom. It provides the tools to affect one's own destiny

Oprah Winfrey is the first African-American philanthropist to make the BusinessWeek Top 50 list. BW's Michelle Conlin recently asked Oprah to tell us a bit about her commitment to charity. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow:

Q: Did you have a role model as a philanthropist growing up -- someone who gave in perhaps even the tiniest of ways but who was instrumental in demonstrating the virtue of charity?


So many things in life inspire philanthropy, such as your faith in humanity and your belief in the human spirit to overcome. As far as a role model, I'd say there were moments with generous people that stand out for me. I will never forget when I was about 12, and my mother told my siblings and me that we would not be receiving Christmas gifts because there wasn't enough money.