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February 26, 2015

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Faces From Ferguson: Ashley 'Brown Blaze' Yates

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In the basement of St. Louis' Saint John's United Church of Christ at the end of the Labor Day weekend, Yates recounted almost a month's worth of harrowing encounters with a militarized police force to a room of Black Lives Matter freedom riders. She woefully explained that as the days bled into one another, she began "marking days by police tactics."

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EXCLUSIVE: Oprah Winfrey Addresses Longtime Beef With Whoopi Goldberg During 'Color Purple' Reunion

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A couple of decades can go by, and it's never too late to salvage a relationship and reunite with people you made history with.

No one can know that better than Oprah Winfrey.

Last week, the media maven taped another one of her landmark moments for 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' – which is in its final record-breaking year – with a reunion of her co-stars from the 1985 epic film 'The Color Purple.'

In her new book, 'Oprah: A Biography,' scandal-mongering biographer Kitty Kelley offered many unconfirmed stories about Winfrey's alleged dust-ups with cast members and the movie's director Steven Spielberg. The tantalizing tidbits provided context to what many believe has been a long-running feud with her co-star, the movie's lead actress Whoopi Goldberg.

Goldberg, who was nominated for an Academy Award for 'Purple' – along with co-stars Winfrey and Margaret Avery, has never sat down on Winfrey's couch since then, and was noticeably absent at her big 2006 Legends Ball weekend festivities, where Winfrey & Co. celebrated great black women who contributed to the history of arts and culture. Even though Goldberg -- at the time -- was only one of two living female black actresses who won Academy Awards (Halle Berry was the other), she didn't get an invite.

On the show, which airs nationally Nov. 15, a tear-filled Winfrey candidly reveals how Goldberg took her to task about what has been referred to as their long-time beef.

Below is an excerpt and exclusive video of their exchange:


OPRAH: Whoopi came up to me and she said, can I just ask you something? Really. She said, can I just ask you something? Did I do something to you? And I said -- I said, what are you talking about? She says, all these years, you know, we've been disconnected and I just want to know, did I do something? I said, all these years I thought you were mad at me.

OPRAH: All these years I thought -- I thought that you thought -- I don't know what I thought.

WHOOPI: It's crazy. It's crazy.

OPRAH: It's crazy. So I thought, you think I'm mad at you? I thought you were mad at me.

WHOOPI: So crazy.

OPRAH: Was that crazy?

WHOOPI: Yeah.

OPRAH: What was that?

WHOOPI: Who knows?

While many still see Goldberg daily as the Emmy Award winning co-host of 'The View' talk show, some still wonder what happened to other cast members from the movies. Winfrey brings together Desreta Jackson (who played "young Celie"), Akosua Bosia (who played "Nettie"), Rae Dawn Chong (who played "Squeak), Danny Glover (who played "Mister"), Margaret Avery (who played "Shug Avery"), Willard Pugh (who played "Harpo") and legendary music producer Quincy Jones – who is the force behind making the movie a reality.




Here are other highlights...

Danny Glover on what 'The Color Purple' meant to him ...
"You know, it's one of the kind of great emotional moments for me in my whole career. I mean, it -- it's transformative. The movie itself is transformative... I mean it was the beginning of both -- all three of our careers in some sense, you know? "

Quincy Jones on making the movie ...
"Everybody in town was saying Quincy Jones is out of his mind. He thinks he's gonna get the greatest director in the world on his first movie and he's gonna do a black movie before 'Schindler's List.' I'm serious. And that's when I found the power of being underestimated."

Margaret Avery on Tina Turner and the role of "Shug" Avery ...
"I owe it to Tina for turning it down and Reuben Cannon for giving me the opportunity."

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Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

'The Color Purple' – Where Are They Now?
After achieving worldwide acclaim with box office hits 'Jaws' (1975) and 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial' (1982), Steven Spielberg hit a milestone when he directed the film adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, 'The Color Purple,' in 1985. Featuring an array of new talent, including Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey and Akosua Busia, as well as veterans Danny Glover, Laurence Fishburne and Margaret Avery, the film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including best picture, best actress for Goldberg and best supporting actress for both Avery and Winfrey. It did not win any. The film follows the life of Celie Johnson (played by Goldberg), a young black girl growing up in the early 1900s. The first time we see Celie, she is 14 and pregnant by her father. We stay with her for the next 30 years of her tough life. Twenty-five years after the film debuted in theaters, Black Voices wanted to take a look at some of the actors who starred in this film and what's happened in their lives since making the cinematic masterpiece.

Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

Whoopi Goldberg
Long before her acting career started, this gifted New York City native had a successful run as a comedian, appearing in a one-woman Broadway show titled 'The Spook Show.' Her performance impressed director Steven Spielberg, and he cast Goldberg, who had never done a film, as the movie's main character. Playing Celie Johnson, a downtrodden black woman in the South, earned Goldberg an Academy Award nomination for best actress and her first Golden Globe. Five years later, she would win a second Golden Globe and an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role opposite Patrick Swayze in the blockbuster film 'Ghost.' Goldberg is currently moderator and co-host of the Emmy Award winning talk show 'The View.'

Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

Akosua Busia
Making her film debut in the role of Nettie Harris in 'The Color Purple,' Akosua Busia would appear in her then-husband John Singleton's 'Rosewood' and work as one of three co-writers on the screen adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel 'Beloved,' which starred Oprah Winfrey and Thandie Newton, in 1998. In 2003, the Ghanaian actress appeared in Antoine Fuqua's 'Tears of the Sun.' Her most recent film credit includes the 2007 film 'Ascension Day,' which marked her directorial debut.

Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

Alice Walker
Alice Walker wrote 'Purple' in 1982, becoming the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and also the first black woman to win the National Book Award. The acclaimed novel would be adapted for the big screen in 1985 and directed by Steven Spielberg. Walker, who hails from Eatonton, Ga., would go on to write several other novels and receive many accolades. After giving her blessing to Broadway producer Scott Sanders, Walker saw a new incarnation of her most cherished work when 'Purple' opened to critical reviews on The Great White Way in 2005. The following year, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Walker into the California Hall of Fame.

Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

Andraé Crouch
Famed gospel singer Andraé Crouch was already a household name by the time he gained critical acclaim for the historically detailed music he composed and arranged for the 1985 film 'The Color Purple.' The Los Angeles native and eight-time Grammy Award winner also worked on 'The Lion King' and also wrote the song 'You Will Be There,' which was featured in the film 'Free Willy.' In 2004, Crouch became one of only three gospel musicians honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2009, the San Francisco native paid a moving tribute to late, great music icon Michael Jackson during an internationally-televised memorial tribute.

Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

Oprah Winfrey
Also making her film debut in the Quincy Jones-produced film adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was this Kosciusko, Miss., native, who was in her early years as a Chicago talk show host. Oprah Winfrey's role as Sofia, the strong-willed housewife of Harpo, earned her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. She would go to star and produce other films, including 'The Women of Brewster Place,' and 'Beloved,' before coming back to co-produce a Broadway musical of 'Purple' in late 2005. Known as one of the most influential (and richest) woman in the world, Winfrey announced that after 20-plus years on television, 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' will end on September 2011.

Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

Laurence Fishburne
Acting since age 12, Larry Fishburne (as he was once known) has worked in television, films and theater. By the time he was cast in the minor role of Swain in 'The Color Purple,' the Augusta, Ga., native had already made memorable films such as 'Cornbread, Earl and Me,' 'Apocalypse Now' and 'Rumble Fish.' After a recurring role as Cowboy Curtis in the CBS children's television show 'Pee-wee's Playhouse,' Fishburne stepped up his game in the film world by playing Dap in Spike Lee's second theatrical release 'School Daze.' He would later win a Tony Award for his stage performance in the August Wilson play 'Two Trains Running' before receiving worldwide acclaim as Morpheus, the hacker mentor of Neo, in the 1999 blockbuster science fiction film 'The Matrix' and its two sequels. Married to actress Gina Torres, Fishburne recently co-starred in the action film 'Armored' with Columbus Short and will appear in 'Predators,' a sequel to the 1987 classic action film 'Predator.' He also stars on the hit TV series 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

Margaret Avery
For her incredible performance as the spirited Blues singer Shug in 'The Color Purple,' Margaret Avery was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. The Mangum, Okla., who already was seen in 'Hell Up in Harlem' with Fred Williamson, 'The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh' (with NBA legend Julius Erving) and 'Which Way is Up?' (with Richard Pryor), has since made numerous TV guest appearances. In 2008, Avery played Mama Jenkins in 'Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins,' opposite Martin Lawrence and James Earl Jones, and Sarah Brown in Tyler Perry's 'Meet the Browns,' which starred Angela Bassett and Rick Fox.

Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

Rae Dawn Chong
After appearing in the rap film 'Beat Street' in 1984, Rae Dawn Chong would later take on the smaller role of Squeak in 'The Color Purple.' From there, the Canadian actress and daughter of comedian-actor Tommy Chong starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action film 'Commando' and in 'Soul Man' with C. Thomas Howell. Chong later married and divorced Howell. Her most recent big-screen film role was in the drama 'Constellation,' opposite Hill Harper and Gabrielle Union.

Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

Steven Spielberg
Before winning an Academy Award for best picture for 'Schindler's List' and two best director Oscars for that film and 'Saving Private Ryan,' Steven Spielberg was no stranger to Oscar nominations. His 1985 'Color Purple' had been nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including best picture. It did not win any. Though some criticized him – a white man – for taking on such a heavy project about the black experience, the Cincinnati native won his first Directors Guild of America Award for 'Purple.' Spielberg, along with David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, formed the studio DreamWorks in 1997. Returning to the directing world, he last helmed 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,' reuniting with Harrison Ford.

Where Are They Now? - The Color Purple

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