How Oprah Honored Her Father With A Special Surprise

Like many Americans, celebrities celebrated this past Fourth of July by spending time with family and friends. However, this wasn't your average Independence Day. Following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, many A-listers took the opportunity to share their anger and frustration about the landmark ruling and to call into question the true meaning of America's independence. Katy Perry, for example, tweeted that "women in the US have fewer rights than an actual sparkler," while Jessica Chastain gave the holiday two middle fingers, tweeting, "Happy 'Independence' Day from me and my reproductive rights." Other outspoken celebs included Madonna, who encouraged her fans to "start a revolution," and Lizzo, who vowed to give all weekend proceeds from her shapewear line, Yitty, to the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Not everyone chose to get political, though, instead opting to put the focus on their loved ones. Michelle Obama, for one, celebrated daughter Malia Obama's 24th birthday with a sweet Instagram tribute, while Oprah Winfrey decided to invent a brand new holiday in honor of her father, Vernon Winfrey. As she shared on Instagram in a video shot by BFF Gayle King, she turned the Fourth of July into Vernon Winfrey Appreciation Day, and inviting all of his closest family and friends to celebrate him. However, the reason behind the special bash was a bittersweet one.

Oprah's special surprise for her dad

Oprah is incredibly close with her dad, Vernon Winfrey, and has credited him with her success. As The Washington Post reported in 1986, Vernon — a barber, church deacon, and elected city councilman in Nashville, Tennessee — had a life-changing impact on his daughter. As a teen, Oprah acted out and even ran away from home, so, when she was 14, her mother, Vernita Lee, sent her to live with her father. Soon, his strict approach to parenting put her on the right path and pushed her to do better. "If I hadn't been sent to my father, I would have gone in another direction. I could have made a good criminal," Oprah told the outlet. "He saved me." It's a sentiment she shared with People in 2021, saying it was Vernon who "made the difference in me being who I am now or somebody you would have never, ever heard of."

And so, the talk show legend decided to celebrate her pops on the Fourth of July by throwing him a surprise party in the form of a backyard barbecue. "My father is ill and so we wanted to be able to have all of his friends come and celebrate him while he's able to receive the joy," she explained on Instagram. While she didn't elaborate on his illness, she shared that the day's menu included fried chicken, burgers, and brisket, and encouraged others to make the most of every moment with loved ones. "Remember to celebrate each other," she wrote.