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Who Is Oprah Winfrey?
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Who Is Oprah Winfrey?
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The story of how a young Southern girl who was raised on a pig farm became one of the most influential and inspiring people in the world.We all know Oprah Winfrey as a talk-show host, actress,...
The story of how a young Southern girl who was raised on a pig farm became one of the most influential and inspiring people in the world.We all know Oprah Winfrey as a talk-show host, actress,...
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  • The story of how a young Southern girl who was raised on a pig farm became one of the most influential and inspiring people in the world.
    We all know Oprah Winfrey as a talk-show host, actress, producer, media mogul, and philanthropist, but the "Queen of Talk" wasn't always so fortunate. She suffered through a rough childhood and went on to use her personal struggles as motivation. Oprah's kindness, resilience, and determination are just some of the many reasons why her viewers—and people all around the world—love her. The richest African American person of the twentieth century, Oprah is often described as the most influential woman in the world.

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  • From the book Who Is Oprah Winfrey?


    As a young girl in the 1950s, Oprah Winfrey loved to tell stories. She lived outside the town of Kosciusko (say: kah-zee-ESS-ko) in central Mississippi on her grandparents' farm. No other children lived nearby, so the farm animals became Oprah's friends. She named the pigs and chickens and told them stories.

    Some of her tales were made up. Others came from the Bible. Oprah's grandmother Hattie Mae Lee used the Bible to teach Oprah to read at an early age. Oprah was smart and memorized Bible verses easily. She soon began reciting them at her church.

    The first time Oprah stood at the front of the church to recite Bible verses was on Easter Sunday in 1957. She was only three years old. She wore a dress her grandmother had made and the shiny shoes she saved for Sundays. The rest of the week she went barefoot. "Jesus rose on Easter Day, hallelujah, hallelujah," Oprah announced. She did not sound nervous at all.

    "That child sure can talk," church members said. Some called her gifted. Oprah didn't understand that word, but she thought it meant she was special. She loved the attention and continued to recite Bible verses at her church on Sundays. As she got older, she spoke at other churches. She recited longer passages from the Bible. Sometimes she recited poems or sermons written by famous ministers.

    Oprah's talent for speaking led to a very successful television career. For twenty-five years, The Oprah Winfrey Show was one of the most-watched talk shows in the United States. Today, Oprah is one of the richest, most powerful women in the world. She says it all began when she was three years old, reciting Bible verses at the front of her church.


    Chapter 1: Farm Girl


    Orpah Gail Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954. She was named Orpah after a woman in the Bible. But most people had trouble pronouncing her name. They kept switching the r and the p. They always seemed to call her Oprah, and the name stuck.

    Oprah's mother, Vernita Lee, was eighteen years old when Oprah was born. Her father, Vernon Winfrey, was in the US Army. He didn't know he was going to be a father when he returned to the army base in Alabama. He found out months later when Vernita sent him a newspaper article announcing Oprah's birth.

    There were not many job opportunities for Vernita in Kosciusko. Many African Americans at the time were leaving the southern United States and moving north. They were looking for better jobs and a better life there. They also wanted to escape the segregation of the South. Vernita decided to do the same. She moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, leaving four-year-old Oprah with her grandmother. Vernita planned to send for Oprah after she got settled.

    Even though Oprah's grandparents were poor, she always had clean clothes to wear and never went hungry. Her grandmother made Oprah's clothes. Most of their food came from what they raised on the farm.

    There was always work to do, and Oprah was expected to help. One of her jobs was to feed the chickens. The house had no indoor plumbing—no bathroom or running water—so Oprah had to bring water from a nearby well for drinking and doing dishes. On Saturdays, she hauled water to be heated on the stove and poured into a tin tub for bathing.

    Oprah was afraid of her grandfather Earless Lee. "I remember him always throwing things at me or trying to shoo me away with his cane," Oprah recalled. She stayed away from him as much as possible.

    Like many people of that time, Hattie Mae believed in physical punishment....

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Who Is Oprah Winfrey?
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