Powerful Ladies of the 80's: Oprah Winfrey

15th September 2017

Oprah Winfrey


Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Her parents are Vernita Lee, a maid, and Vernon Winfrey, a barber.  Oprah was raised by her grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee. After graduating from high school, Oprah attended Tennessee State University on a full scholarship she had won based on her communication skills. In 1973, she graduated with a degree in Speech Communications and Performing Arts.


She is everywhere and even though her very successful talk show has been off of the air, her OWN television network is still up and running and her face continues to appear on her monthly magazine cover. Oprah Winfrey's career has spanned every form of media and beyond. She has had a turn in being an actress, talk show host, producer, and philanthropist. Among Oprah Winfrey's greatest accomplishments are being Chairwoman and CEO of both Harpo Productions and The Oprah Winfrey Network. She has co-authored five books and has started The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a school designed to educate and develop the leadership skills of young women in South Africa. And as if that's not enough, Winfrey has been featured in TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people on an impressive 10 occasions. Some have deemed Oprah the most influential woman in the world. She has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, as well as an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard. She has been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and is one of few black billionaires in North America.


Though Oprah Winfrey's greatest accomplishments are never ending, as she refuses to rest on her laurels, her goals have always been to inspire and motivate others. She continues to set examples for the world to see and, hopefully, follow.


“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you, always.”. Oprah is an army unto herself. She was motivated and determined to pull herself up from a bad situation and make herself the best she could be. Her career was not handed to her; she didn’t ride on the coattails of a man. A survivor of sexual abuse and the loss of an infant, Oprah did not wallow in self-pity. She used her personal experience to campaign for support groups to help survivors of sexual abuse.


One of the most remarkable events in her life is when The National Child Protection Act was passed in 1993. It became informally known as the “Oprah Bill” because of her involvement in getting this important legislation on record. The purpose of the NCPA was to establish a nationwide data base of “all indictments, and convictions on child abuse and sex offense charges, violent crimes, arson and felony drug charges.” It required states to index criminals and required organizations that serve youth, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities to request a nationwide criminal history background check on prospective employees and volunteers. Oprah initiated the act, issuing an urgent call to her viewers to support it. Though you would have thought something like this would have existed before 1993, unfortunately, it did not. Oprah’s “call-to-arms” to get the NCPA legitimized became another calling for her to help protect those that could not protect themselves.


What can we learn from this great lady? That your circumstances do not define you! Pick yourself up and dust yourself off - keep on climbing towards your goals with dignity and compassion.