Mass Mutual and NewsOne join together to present 28 dynamic people that make up the diverse tapestry of Black History. For the entire month of February, Black History Month, we will feature one Person of the Day and highlight their lives and achievements.
Oprah Winfrey (pictured) and her rise to becoming a media mogul remains one of the great success stories. With a drive as impressive as her bank account, Winfrey proves that her work is far from over even after her 25 year run with “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Winfrey was born January 29, 1954, in the small town of Kosciusko, Miss. Winfrey’s mother was a teenager when she had her, struggling to care for her young daughter. After shuffling around between relatives, Winfrey was eventually sent to live with her father in Tennessee.
Winfrey endured plenty of hardships as she came of age: running away from home at 13 after suffering abuse and enduring ridicule while attending a suburban high school in Wisconsin. All the while, Winfrey’s father was tough on his daughter, making education a goal in the household.
Under her dad’s tutelage, Winfrey became an honors student and won a speech competition that landed her a scholarship to Tennessee State University.
Winfrey’s forays in to media began on local Tennessee radio, but she later made a move to television and became the first Black and youngest news anchor on Nashville’s WLAC-TV. Winfrey then moved to Baltimore, Md., in 1976 to co-anchor WJZ-TV. In 1978, she served as a co-host of a local talk show, “People Are Talking.”
In 1983, Chicago would be the fast-rising media personality’s next stop and would prove to be the most important.
At the top of 1984, Winfrey hosted a morning talk show on WLS-TV, and it became the highest-rated talk show in the city. After signing a syndication deal, the show was renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and ran from 1986 to 2011. The show remains the highest-rated show of its kind, and Winfrey eventually became a billionaire.
In 2011, Winfrey launched her OWN cable network station. Although there had been some issues getting off the ground, OWN has staged a comeback after landing a highly anticipated interview with beleaguered bicyclist Lance Armstrong.
Winfrey has shared her wealth as well via her Oprah’s Angel Network, which has provided relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina and bolstered the education of girls in South Africa.