"She was born into poverty to a teenage single mother; she was so poor, in fact, that she literally wore dresses made out of potato sacks. At the age of 9, she was raped and at the age of 14, she gave birth to a baby boy who died shortly after birth. It was a horrible childhood, but it just made her more determined to make something of her life.
As she later stated, she wanted to turn her "wounds into
wisdom," and she did just that. With the help of her grandmother, she
learned how to read before the age of 3, and played games interviewing
her corncob doll and the crows on the fence of her family's property.
She stated it was her grandmother who had encouraged her to speak in
public and "gave me a positive sense of myself."
Winfrey is arguably the world's most powerful (CNN) and most influential
(Time) woman." In 2010, she was named by Life magazine as one of the
100 people who changed the world, and was the only living woman to make
She is caring, she is outspoken, and, most
importantly, she is honest. In that sense, she has allowed her audience,
the American public, to become honest themselves, to speak out about
issues that had remained hidden. During one show in 1988, in observance
of National Coming Out Day, she encouraged her studio audience to be
honest with themselves, and one by one, members of her audience gave
their name and announced that they were gay. In another show in the 90s
on gay marriage, she confronted a woman who complained that gays were
constantly flaunting their sex lives and said she was tired of it. "You
know what I'm tired of,"replied Winfrey, "heterosexual males raping and
sodomizing young girls. That's what I'm tired of." In 2006, Winfrey did a
show titled "Is War the Only Answer?" and received hate mail, accusing
her of being un-American and telling her to "Go back to Africa."
Winfrey has also consistently ranked among the 50 most generous
Americans and had given away about $400 million to educational causes.
Even critic Bill O'Reilly at FOX news, who had accused her of promoting a
left-wing society, had to admit "this is a woman that came from nothing
to rise up to be the most powerful woman, I think, in the world. I
think Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful woman in the world, not just in
America. That's – anybody who goes on her program immediately benefits
through the roof. I mean, she has a loyal following; she has
credibility; she has talent; and she's done it on her own to become
fabulously wealthy and fabulously powerful."
Happy Birthday, Oprah Winfrey, born on this day, January 29, 1954."