Ms. Oprah Winfrey
Purpose of Award: The George Henry White Pioneer Award was established by the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Foundation to honor the legacy of our family member, the late Congressman George Henry White. The award honors qualities of Servant Leadership, Social Entrepreneurship, Visionary Action, and Family Cohesiveness.
The George Henry White Pioneer Award for 2012 was awarded to Ms. Oprah Winfrey for her extraordinary contributions to human development.
Award Statement: The 2012 George Henry White Pioneer Award, is being presented to Ms. Winfrey for her extraordinary contributions to human development. Only very rarely has a person--to the same extent as Ms. Winfrey -- captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. The Oprah Winfrey Show, and now, the Oprah Winfrey Network, have established a global community linked through media and technology advocating self-empowerment for all people. This exemplifies the call of Congressman White--over a century ago -- for “an even chance in the race of life” for all citizens. Winfrey's visionary endeavor, Oprah’s Angel Network, has been a catalyst to "inspire people to make a difference in the lives of others.” The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa exemplifies George Henry White’s call for people to “Rise like a Phoenix”—and is especially meaningful for a nation whose struggle for freedom echoes our own past.
Like Ms. Winfrey, George Henry White believed in self-reliance but also wanted a level playing field. He started from a very humble origin, yet reached the highest halls of government. He shared with you a mastery of communication, using reason, passion, and humor to illuminate society’s issues. Both, Winfrey and White have encouraged education as a path to empowerment and hard work to achieve greatness. Furthermore, both have used the prominence they gained to improve the lot of others, becoming benefactors and advocating for human rights.
About the Award
George Henry White, a successful attorney, was elected to U.S. Congress in 1897 and served two terms there until the Jim Crow laws made certain no African American could be elected for three more decades. Despite such injustices, the congressman continued to serve the people; he founded businesses and established the town of Whitesboro, New Jersey in the early 20th Century as a model community where people could attain personal and professional achievement, regardless of race. Many descendants of Benjamin and Edith migrated to this town, building businesses and advancing education and, to this day, family members carry on this proud legacy of self-reliance in Whitesboro.
This award honors outstanding persons who demonstrate qualities of servant leadership, social entrepreneurship, visionary action, and family cohesiveness.
The award is presented at the bi-annual national reunions of the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Association.
Highlighting excellence in public service is intended to encourage youth to emulate these standards in their own lives.
To be considered for this award, candidates must have demonstrated the following:
Servant Leadership involves inspiring others by one’s deeds, especially through service to society.
Social Entrepreneurship means creating businesses and economic structures that build wealth, develop skills, foster education, increase opportunity and achievement for all those touched by the enterprise.
Visionary Action is the ability to both envision positive ideas and to practically implement them.
Family Cohesiveness. Not only does this quality honor family relationships, but extends that awareness into the larger society. The family model protects and nurtures individual growth, while developing connectedness and caring for others.