Black History Month Feature Heritage Months Women’s History Month


article by Gianni Taylor

About Oprah Winfrey

On January 29, 1954, Oprah Gail Winfrey was born to Vernita Lee and Vernon Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Both of her parents were unmarried teens and shortly after her birth the two separated leaving Oprah to live with her grandmother. `

Early Life

The years that Oprah lived with her grandmother, she was taught how to recite Bible verses and even began reading at the age of two. At the age of six, she moved with her mother in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she was abused and mistreated which led to her rebelling. Her mother sent her to Nashville, Tennessee where she began living with her father. While living with her father she felt like she was in a safer environment, but the bad habits that she picked up from living with her mother were hard to shake off.

Rise to Fame

Image accredited to Variety Magazine

In 1971, Oprah’s first job was at Nashville’s WVOL radio station, while she was still in high school, where she was read afternoon newscast live. In the same year she received the titles as Nashville’s Miss Fire Prevention and Miss Black Tennessee. Later that year she graduated high school with honors and was granted a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. She majored in Speech Communications and Performing arts. In 1973 Oprah starts to set records being the first African American TV correspondent in Nashville and the youngest co- anchor for WTVF-TV. Three years later in 1976, Oprah became co-anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore. In 1978, while still working as a co-anchor, she found a talent for hosting talk shows and became co-host of WJZ-TV’s “People Are Talking”. In order to host “A.M. Chicago,” Oprah moved to Chicago in 1984. A year later she started her acting career where she played Sofia in the movie The Color Purple. In 1986 Oprah’s own talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was aired nationally. Two years later she also became the first African American Women in American to own her own studio which she name Harpo Studio. Following her first movie appearance, Oprah played in movies such as The Women of Brewster Place (1989), There are no children here (1993), Before Women had Wings (1997), and many more. In 2004, Oprah released her successful  magazine O, The Oprah. In 1998, she believed in making a difference in people’s live and she found Oprah’s Angel Network which was and still is a charity that raised more than $35 million to non- profit organizations around the world. The network also has provided scholarships and built schools while supporting women’s shelter, building homes, and even youth centers. Oprah was also an impact on child protection. In 1991 she pushed for the Child Protection Act, which set a national database of convicted child abusers, to get passed. This was such a big goal for her to reach that she even when as far as to create Oprah’s Child Predator Watch List where in only 48 hours she captured two alleged child molesters. Today Oprah is worth around 2.6 billion dollars making her the first African American women to become a billionaire. In 2005 Forbes Magazine ranked her as the most powerful celebrity in the world. She also has funded many organizations that are targeted to help improve women’s quality of life and to boost their confidence. Oprah is such a role model for African Americans, women, and girls all around the nation. She has shown that you can succeed in life if you continue to try. She is the change that the African American community and women needed. Oprah has been a light for the people who have been abused. Let’s take a stand with her in improving our nation and world!

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