Popular talk show host Oprah Winfrey is under fire from activists who have been out in the streets drawing attention to police brutality against young black men, after she called their movement “leaderless,” the Washington Post reports.
During an interview to promote her new movie ‘Selma,’ documenting the 1965 protests in Alabama led by Martin Luther King over voting rights for African-Americans, Winfrey told People magazine that, while she appreciates what the activists are doing, she is looking for defining “leadership.”
“I think it’s wonderful to march and to protest and it’s wonderful to see all across the country, people doing it,” she said in a video interview posted on People’s website. “But what I’m looking for is some kind of leadership to come out of this to say, ‘This is what we want. This is what we want. This is what has to change, and these are the steps that we need to take to make these changes, and this is what we’re willing to do to get it.’ ”
Activists took to Twitter to rail at Winfrey over her comments, saying she has done little with her celebrity for their cause and is only speaking out now to promote her movie.
You have been PAINFULLY quiet, @Oprah, until this movie.
— Charles Wade (@akacharleswade) January 2, 2015
Young Black leaders who know the history of what happens to folks like us and we STILL raise our voices. Follow THAT, @Oprah.
— BrownBlaze (@brownblaze) January 2, 2015
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) January 2, 2015
In the interview, Winfrey also said that the protests in New York City , Ferguson, and elsewhere lack the discipline of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
“I think that what can be gleaned from our film, ‘Selma,’ is to really take note of the strategic intention required when you want real change,” she said, adding that the demonstrations in Selma, “…just didn’t happen, and they weren’t happening haphazardly. They were happening out of an order and a design for change.”