On January 29, 1954, on an isolated farm in Kosciusko, Mississippi, Oprah Gail Winfrey was born to Vernita Lee and Vernon Winfrey. Her name was intended to be Orpah from the Bible, but from birth she was known as Oprah due to the trouble of spelling and pronunciation. Shortly after she was born, unmarried parents of Winfrey divided and left her on the farm in the care of her maternal grandma.
As a kid, Winfrey entertained in front of a farm animal "crowd" by "playacting." She learned to read at the age of two and a half under her grandmother's rigorous guidance. She spoke to her church congregation when she was two years old about "when Jesus rose on Easter Day." Then, after writing a note to her professor on the first day of college, Winfrey skipped kindergarten stating she belonged to the first grade. After that year, she was promoted to third grade.
Winfrey was sent north at the age of six to join her mother and two half-brothers in a ghetto in Milwaukee, an extremely poor and dangerous neighborhood. At the age of twelve she was sent to live in Nashville, Tennessee with her father. She began to make speeches at social gatherings and churches, feeling secure and happy for a short time, and once earned five hundred dollars for a speech. She then knew she wanted to be "paid to talk."
Winfrey was called back by her mother again, and she had to leave her father's home safe. The poor, urban lifestyle had its negative effect on Winfrey as a young teenager, and her problems were compounded by repeated sexual abuse, beginning at the age of nine, by men who were trusted by others in her family. Her mother worked odd jobs and had little supervisory time.
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