Before he became a U.S. congressman, John Lewis was one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement. John reflects on his life of activism, his friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and offers wisdom for the ongoing fight for justice and equality. By the time he was 18, John was participating in lunch-counter sit-ins to protest segregation. Eventually, John rode with the brave Freedom Riders on buses through the deep South, spoke at the famous March on Washington, led the historic Selma to Montgomery march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and was in the room when President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today, John is a congressman from Georgia who continues his fight for civil rights, most recently leading sit-ins on the House of Representatives floor in favor of immigration reform and gun control. John says he still believes in non-violence, and says it is his obligation to pass on this tradition to a new generation of young activists, so that we may never go backward and repeat the mistakes of the past.
With dozens of Top 40 hits, more than 4,000 songs to his credit and more than six decades in the business, Smokey Robinson reflects on his legendary career. Smokey is known as the “King of Motown,” responsible for such hits as "Tracks of My Tears," "I Second That Emotion," and the Temptations’ unforgettable smash, "My Girl." Born and raised in Detroit,Smokey was childhood friends with both Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross, who grew up down the street. "The Temptations and The Four Tops and all those people were growing up in my immediate neighborhood,” he says. “I can't answer why there was so many of us in that same neighborhood, but it was happening all over Detroit.” When Smokey was 40 years old, he became addicted to drugs. "I went on a hell of a drug trip and it was horrendous,” he says. Smokey shares how he eventually overcame his addiction and explains why he believes love is the most powerful emotion we can experience.
Throughout her childhood in New Orleans, Ellen Degeneres always looked at things a little differently. Ellen’s unique perspective has guided her courageous journey. She first became known to home audiences with a memorable appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." For years, her easygoing comedy style was masking a secret, but that changed in 1997 when Ellen came out in front of 42 million viewers on her sitcom “Ellen.” It was an emotional first in the history of television that will forever place Ellen among trailblazers, and remains a valuable lesson on compassion and living proof that your truth will set you free. Since 2003, Ellen has danced her way into the homes and hearts of millions of viewers with her Emmy Award-winning daytime talk show, “The Ellen Show.”
Grant Hill is one of the best-known players in professional basketball. After back-to-back National Championships with Duke University, Grant went on to play for nearly 20 years in the NBA. When he was a child, Grant's father, who attended Yale and played in the NFL, set a high bar--if Grant wanted to play basketball he had to get good grades. On top of emphasizing academics, his parents also taught him to live with respect for people and for the game. Grant carried that lesson with him through life and says it helped him to understand that great players make their teammates better. In his first six seasons in the NBA, Grant led the Detroit Pistons to the playoffs three times in a row. Then, Grant's career was nearly destroyed by a debilitating ankle injury. But after four surgeries and a life-threatening infection, Grant found his fighting spirit and managed to come out on top. More than that, he says he came to believe that our wounds make us part of who we are.
Oscar-, Emmy- and Tony-Award winning actress Cicely Tyson is a living legend whose remarkable dedication to what she calls her “life's purpose” is reflected on film, in television and on Broadway. Cicely says she decided early on that her work would be more than a job: she'd use her opportunities to help make a difference. Cicely looks back on her iconic career, explaining how she prepared for her most recognized role, that of Binta, Kunta Kinte’s mother, in the epic historical miniseries "Roots." "No matter where I go in the world, they will say to me, ' Roots !'" Cicely says. Cicely reflects on her Oscar-nominated role in “Sounder” and her Tony-winning role in Broadway’s “A Trip to Bountiful.” Cicely also explains says that even from the time she was a young girl, she always felt she had a sixth sense. She says could tell when something was going to happen in her family. Although her intuition worried her at first, Cicely shares how she learned to embrace what she calls “her divine guidance."