Oprah Winfrey is one of the biggest names in the world today. Everyone sees her as a successful and wonderful woman, but not everyone knows the story of her struggle. Oprah Winfrey had a very challenging life which was filled with some traumatizing moments.
Her story has inspired many people and I’m writing it here with the hope that it’ll inspire you as well.
She was born Orpah Gail Winfrey on January 29, 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi to a single teenage mother. Due to the constant mispronunciation of the name, ‘Oprah’ stuck with her. Her mother was a housemaid and her biological father is usually noted as Vernon Winfrey, however, Noah Robinson Sr. has claimed to be her biological father.
After Oprah’s birth, her mother traveled north and Oprah spent her first six years living with her maternal grandmother in rural poverty. Her grandmother was so poor that Oprah had to wear dresses made of potato sacks, for which she was made fun of by the local kids. Her grandmother taught her to read before she was three years old and took her to the church where she was called ‘the preacher’ because of her ability to read and speak bible verses. Her grandmother used to hit her with a stick whenever she misbehaved or failed to do a chore.
When she was six years old, she moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her mother. Her mother was less encouraging and supportive than her grandmother, mostly because of her tiresome job and busy schedule as a housemaid. Her mother gave birth to her younger half-sister, Patricia who died in February 2003 due to cocaine addiction.
Oprah’s mother was facing challenges in raising two daughters so she sent Oprah to live with her biological father in Nashville, Tennessee. While Oprah was in Nashville, her mother gave birth to her third daughter and put her up for adoption. That girl was also named Patricia. By the time Oprah came back, her mother gave birth to her son Jeffery who died in 1989 due to AIDS-related issues.
When Oprah was 9 years old, she was sexually abused, and the man who did this to her took her to an ice cream shop with blood still running down her legs. Oprah stated in an interview with David Letterman “He took me to an ice cream shop — blood still running down my leg — and bought me ice cream”. Oprah even stated that she was molested by her cousin, uncle, and a family friend during the span of 4 years between ages 10 and 14. She ran away from home at the age of 13 and became pregnant at 14, however, her son was born prematurely and died 2 weeks after his birth.
Oprah stated, “I really felt like that baby’s life — that baby coming into the world — really gave me new life. That’s how I processed it for myself”.
She began attending Lincoln High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, however, was later transferred to Nicolet High School, where she was constantly teased for being poor as she used to travel in the school bus with other black students. Most of those students were the servants of her classmates’ families. Oprah started stealing money from her mother in order to match with her peers. She even used to argue with her mother and often lie to her in order to go out with older boys.
Her mother again sent her to live with her father in Nashville. Her father was strict but encouraging and supportive. He made Oprah’s education a priority and guided her in such a way that she became an honors student, was voted the most popular girl and joined her high school speech team at East Nashville High School.
From there on, Oprah didn’t stop. She went on to become the best talk show host in the history of television with her show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ which aired from 1986 to 2011. Oprah even mentioned the story of her struggle against violence and sexual abuse and how she rose up after all those challenges.
Oprah Gail Winfrey has inspired many with her story and will keep on inspiring people for a very long time. She is a true representation of a warrior and her life can teach us a lot. Most of the people use the challenges she faced as excuses, but Oprah didn’t let those challenged get a hold of her and triumphed regardless of the bad things she went through.
Oprah Winfrey is truly an inspiring person and has an empowering story.