Movies And Specials: 'Oprah Winfrey Presents: Legends Who Paved The Way'

Oprah Winfrey hosts a gala of events celebrating the upcoming film "Selma" and honoring some of the legendary men and extraordinary women of civil rights, the arts and entertainment who made history and redefined what was possible for us all.  The legends that were honored include Ambassador Andrew Young, Berry Gordy, Jr., Rev. C.T. Vivian, Diane Nash, Dick Gregory, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Juanita Jones Abernathy, Julian Bond, Marian Wright Edelman, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte.  The weekend celebration began in Santa Barbara, CA with an exclusive screening of "Selma" at the historic Arlington Theatre followed by an elegant evening gala saluting the legends at the Bacara Resort & Spa.  A special message from President Barack Obama began the evening, with a poem reading by the cast of "Selma," written by Pearl Cleage, punctuating the expression of gratitude for the legends before the R&B group The O'Jays took the stage.  The event continued the following day as Oprah hosted a private gospel brunch at her home in Santa Barbara, CA, filled with a special performance by gospel/R&B singer Bebe Winans, readings and songs performed by guests of the event, and brunch prepared by Chef Art Smith. 

"Selma," produced by Paramount Pictures, Pathé and Harpo Films, opens nationwide January 9, 2015 and chronicles the 1965 Selma to Montgomery protest marches in Alabama led by a group of brave men and women in the fight for equal voting rights.  Oprah Winfrey is a producer of the film and portrays civil rights activist Annie Lee Cooper.  Honoring the 50th anniversary in 2015, these marches ultimately led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a landmark achievement of the Civil Rights Movement that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.  Attendees of the event honoring the legends included "Selma" director Ava DuVernay, actor David Oyelowo who portrays Martin Luther King, Jr. in the film along with many "Selma" cast members including Common, Lorraine Toussaint, Carmen Ejogo, Niecy Nash and Tessa Thompson. 

Additional guests of the event included Al Roker & Deborah Roberts, Alfre Woodard, Angela Bassett, Ben Vereen, Rev. Bernice King, Bill Withers, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, David Foster, Deion Sanders & Tracey Edmonds, Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi, Gayle  King, George Lucas & Mellody Hobson, Iyanla Vanzant, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Kevin & Erika Liles, Magic & Cookie Johnson, Maria Shriver, Martin Luther King, III, Phylicia Rash?d, Rashida Jones, Robin Roberts, Roland Martin, Samuel L. Jackson, Shonda Rhimes, Smokey Robinson, Tyler Perry, Tamron Hall and Tasha Smith, among others.