Prominent Figures In Black History: Oprah Winfrey

It’s only right if I start Black History Month off with one of the greatest female icons to grace this Earth. She’s an American television host, actress, philanthropist, role model, producer and entrepreneur. Oprah Gail Winfrey has impacted the black community in a tremendous way.

Winfrey was born January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. She grew up in a small town with her mother but eventually moved to Nashville, Tennessee with her father. A new chapter in her life began when she attended Tennessee State University in 1971 where she began working with television and radio. You can say Oprah was definitely on the move when she moved to Baltimore, Maryland in 1976 and hosted a show called ‘’The People Are Talking’’ for eight years. The show was such a big hit that she was recruited by a Chicago Television station to host her own show, “A.M Chicago.” Within months, Winfrey’s fame skyrocketed and the world was introduced to the queen of media. Her fame led her to be in Steven Spielberg film “The Color Purple,” which she was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress. In 1986, she launched her own network, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and received $10 million her first year. Continuing to make her name great, she gained ownership of her own company Harpo. As the years went on and her ratings for her talk show were sky high, she continued to balance Harpo. Let's not forget the TV mini-series "The Women of Brewster Place," that she starred in with Cicely Tyson, Lynn Whitfield and Jackée Harry to name a few. Also with Harpo, she signed a multi-picture contract with Disney. When you think she has reached her peak ladies and gentleman not quite yet. Oprah’s Book Club that she tied in to her talk show put many unknown authors on the map and made the authors bestsellers of their books.

With such huge accomplishments Winfrey was named the richest black woman of the 20th century by Forbes magazine and the world's only black billionaire for three years running. She holds the title of the most influential woman of her generation. With the billions of dollars she receives, she also raises money for numerous charitable programs and built a school in South Africa. Her relentless strive to give back was honored in 2013 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former president Barack Obama.

From growing up in poverty to now one of the most influential woman in the world, she has proven herself to be a black woman who has shaped history.