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Oprah Winfrey


Oprah Winfrey is one of the largest names in American television, and has been for over two decades. She has been an activist in a number of worldwide activities, and has been deemed “the world's most influential woman”.

She was born on January 29th, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Her mother originally named her Orpah, after a biblical character in the Book of Ruth, but people regularly mispronounced it as “Oprah”, and so the name stuck. Her mother was a single teenager, who, after her birth, traveled north, leaving her in the care of her grandmother for six years. They lived in poverty; so much so that she often had to wear dresses made of potato sacks, which she was teased for. Despite their lack of funds, her grandmother ensured that she was as educated as possible. She taught her daughter to read before she reached the age of three and took her to church, where the young girl was nicknamed “the Preacher”, as she often read biblical verses for the church-goer’s.

At the age of six, Oprah moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her mother, who soon after gave birth to another child. She now had a half sister, Patricia. In 1962, their mother began having difficulties raising the two girls due to her long hours of work as a maid, and she was sent to live with her biological father in Nashville, Tennessee. During this time, her mother gave birth to yet another child and put her up for adoption. This was completely unknown to Oprah until she discovered the true story of her other half-sister in 2010. When she eventually returned to live with her mother, she discovered that she now had a new half-brother, named Jeffrey.

Winfrey suffered through years of abuse. She was sexually abused by her cousin, her uncle, and a family friend. She shared these details with her viewers in a 1986 episode of her show that was dedicated to sexual abuse. Though she tried to discuss these things with her family, they refused to believe her and accept the stories she had of her past. At age 13, she ran away from home. She became pregnant at age 14, though the child was born prematurely, and unfortunately, he passed. When she returned to live with her mother, she was once again sent to live with her father in Tennessee. Her father ensured that she valued her education above all else, and she became an honors student and was voted Most Popular Girl at East Nashville High School. She went on to win a full scholarship to Tennessee State University, where she studied communication.

At age 17, she was hired by a local black radio station to be a part-time newscaster. She went on to become the first black news anchor at WLAC-TV in Nashville. In 1976, she moved to Baltimore to front the six-o'clock news. In 1983, she relocated to Chicago to host AM Chicago. Within months of her coming onto the show, it went from one of the lowest-rated show to the highest, topping the charts. It was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show and given a full hour. The official start date for her show was September 8th, 1986. Her show quickly took off, and as she gained popularity, her show became ever-successful. She became a household name, known for her empathy and generosity; she often gave prizes such as a brand new car or destination trips to each of her audience members.

Throughout the decades, she has used her massive influence in the media to help people all around the world. Despite her poor and unfortunate upbringing, she has become a self-made millionaire, holding the title for North America’s only black billionaire. She continues to spread awareness to important things and tackle issues in order to help others as much as she can.

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