BlackFacts Details

Winfrey, Oprah (1954 - )

Repeatedly on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world, Oprah Winfrey is a television host, media mogul – in television, radio, film, and print – and philanthropist.  Forbes magazine included her in its 2003 list of America’s billionaires, the first African American woman to become one.

The “Oprah Winfrey Show” is in its 22nd season, and is syndicated to 214 United States stations, and 139 countries. Launched in April 2000, O, The Oprah Magazine, has a current circulation of 2.3 million monthly readers, and is considered one of the most successful magazine launches in publishing history. In 2004, a companion publication, O at Home, made its debut.  

Ms. Winfrey has garnered numerous honors and awards in recognition of her many contributions and achievements. After receiving more than 40 Emmy awards, she removed herself from further consideration. In 1998 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She has been honored by the National Book Foundation.  In 2005 Winfrey was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and two years later she was awarded the 2007 Humanitarian Award from the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.    

Born Oprah Gail Winfrey on January 30, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi, she was first raised by her impoverished grandmother on a farm. At age six she went to live with her mother Vernita in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  There she was sexually abused by male relatives and friends of her mother.  In 1993 Winfrey testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of a National Child Protection Act which President Bill Clinton signed into law as the “Oprah Bill” in of that year.  At age 13 Winfrey went to live with her father Vernon in Nashville, Tennessee. Under his strict supervision, she was required to read a book a week, contributing to her lifelong love of books and reading.

In 1971 Winfrey entered Tennessee State University, and began working