Oprah Gifts Morehouse Student with New Phone After Viral Video

After donating $13 million to Morehouse College earlier this month, Oprah Winfrey continues to give back by sending a new iPhone to a Morehouse student.

While she was visiting the college earlier this month, student Olufemi Yessoufou and his friend stopped the philanthropist while she was riding around campus, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) reported. Once the two students got her attention, Yessoufou took out his phone to record the moment.

“Hey, Oprah,” Yessoufou, a freshman at the college, said in the video.

“Hey. That’s me. That’s me in your cracked phone,” Winfrey joked.

The video, posted to Twitter, went viral and garnered over 2.7 million views. Just a few weeks after their exchange, Yessoufou received a new iPhone from the media mogul with a note dated October 17, according to AJC.

“We can’t have you out here viewing the world thru a cracked screen or a cracked cover. The new camera you’re gonna love for sure!” the letter read, ending the note with a handwritten signature from Winfrey.

Yessoufou took to Twitter after receiving the gift to show his followers and to thank Winfrey. “Update: OPRAH BOUGHT ME A NEW PHONE! Thank you @Oprah,” Yessoufou wrote in a tweet.

Yessoufou didn’t stop expressing his gratitude for his new phone with a Twitter post. The freshman and a few of his Morehouse friends posted a video to Instagram on October 20, where they expressed their appreciation for Winfrey’s gift. Yessoufou also announced a new initiative he’s working on called “Adopt A House,” which encourages corporations to invest in renovations at the all-Black men’s college.

“Thank you, Ms. Winfrey,” Yessoufou and his friends said in the video. “A gift to one of our brothers is a gift to all of our brothers.”

The institution honored Winfrey earlier this month during the 30th anniversary of the Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program. Her latest gift to the college raised her total contribution to $25 million, which is the “largest endowment in the College’s history,” according to a news release from the college.

“Seeing you young Oprah Winfrey scholars here today has moved me deeply. I am so proud of you. I am proud of everybody in attendance at this school who is seeking to know more clearly who you are, the value you hold, and how you will share that value with the rest of the world,” Winfrey said during her announcement of her latest gift.

“I was really surprised to learn that it has been 30 years since I made that $12 million donation to Morehouse, and today, I would like to add $13 million to that.”

During the celebration of the scholars program, 47 scholars from the program honored Winfrey with a rose ceremony and a song. The college also unveiled a watercolor portrait of the media mogul to thank her for her support of the institution. In a previous statement, Winfrey said she donated to Morehouse back in 1989 because “the College has a ‘moral core’ and mission to develop servant leaders focused on excellence,” according to the news release.

“I felt that the very first time I came here,” Winfrey said. “The money was an offering to support that in these young men. I understand that African American men are an endangered species. They are so misunderstood. They are so marginalized. Where and when I can lend support to try to change that image, I do. That is what Morehouse is doing. It is saying ‘This is who we really are.’”

Morehouse College President David A. Thomas said in a previous statement that since 1989, Winfrey’s scholarship program has funded the education of almost 600 scholars.

“I’m grateful to Oprah Winfrey for her generosity,” said Thomas. “I am also feeling hopeful for Morehouse and what it has garnered in terms of philanthropic support with gifts like Oprah’s and Robert Smith’s. I am hopeful that this will also get others to step up with their support of Morehouse, but even more broadly, historically Black colleges and universities.”

Winfrey has also given back to other schools this year. The philanthropist donated half a million dollars in May to a high school in Newark, New Jersey for an after-school program that helps keep kids off the street. The Lights On program provides students at West Side High School a safe place to spend their Friday evenings and has served the community for several years.

Students at the program prepare meals for themselves, play games, and do laundry, according to the Jersey Cares website. During the summer, the program is open for students Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. To keep the program going, Winfrey announced that she had made her generous donation to the after school program on May 17 to a gymnasium packed with students.

“I thought, ‘What can I do?’” Winfrey said in the video. “So I’m going to leave here tonight and leave with you a half a million dollars.”


About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.