The Life of Oprah Gail Winfrey
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born January 29, 1954 on the family farm in
Kosciusko, Mississippi. Her dad, Vermon Winfrey, who was stationed as
a solider at a local base; and her mother, Vernita Lee, were both
young at the time of Oprah's birth. Her parents never married. Shortly
after she was born her mother found a job, as a maid, in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin. Oprah was left in the care of her grandmother, Hattie Mae
As a child Oprah never wasted a minute of her young imaginative mind
on something that seemed to be boring. Through her early years her
only friends were the farm animals. She gave them parts in the plays
she made and included them in games. On Sundays Oprah would dress up
in her best clothes and go to the Buffalo United Methodist Church,
with her grandmother. The church was a very important part of her
life, as she grew up. It was at this church that Oprah first spoke in
public. Her first performance was at Easter time when she was three.
From that day on, she was always the first child to be asked to
recite. She recited verses and poems at churches in the Nashville
area. Oprah recalls that the other women in the church would say,
"Hattie Mae, that child is gifted." At age four the whole town knew
that she was gifted. She became known as "the little speaker."
Oprah enjoyed bringing her performances to life. Once she was asked
what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she answered without
hesitation, "I want to be paid to talk." At home Oprah was forbidden
to talk around adults. Oprah found it hard to understand this, because
everyone wanted to hear her talk. She was so talkative and lively all
the time. When she disobeyed, Oprah would be whipped. Oprah remembers
that she'd whip her dolls the same way her grandmother whipped her.
At age six Oprah was sent to live with her mother in Milwaukee. They
lived in one room of another woman's house. Her mother worked long,
tiring hours and Oprah was left with her cousins, and neighbours. At
night Oprah's mother was too tired to pay attention to her. Oprah
didn't understand this. It was then that she began to disobey and talk
back to her mother. Her mother knew Oprah was unhappy, and she was
sent to live with her father in Nashville, Tennessee. Her father was
now married to Zelma, Oprah's stepmother.
Oprah knew that she had to obey her father and stepmother. While
living in Nashville Oprah was forced to do pages of addition and
subtraction questions each day. On Sundays she went to church, where
she attended Sunday school and did recitals. One day, Oprah's mother
called and told her that she was pregnant. She wanted Oprah to come
back and live with her in a house, not a room. So Oprah went back to
live with her mother in Milwaukee.
In Milwaukee Oprah lived with her mother and half...