Oprah Winfrey

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Winfrey was named "Orpah" after the biblical character in the Book of Ruth on her birth certificate, but people mispronounced it regularly and Oprah stuck.[1] Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to an unmarried teenage mother. She later said that her conception was due to a single sexual encounter and the couple broke up not long after.[21] Her mother, Vernita Lee (born c. 1935), was a housemaid. Winfrey had believed that her biological father was Vernon Winfrey (born 1933), a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who had been in the Armed Forces when she was born. Decades later, Mississippi farmer and World War II veteran Noah Robinson, Sr. (born c. 1925) claimed to be her biological father.[22] A genetic test in 2006 determined that her maternal line originated among the Kpelle ethnic group, in the area that today is Liberia. Her genetic makeup was determined to be 89% Sub-Saharan African, 8% Native American, and 3% East Asian; however, the East Asian may, given the imprecisions of genetic testing, actually be Native American markers.[23] After Winfrey's birth, her mother traveled north and Winfrey spent her first six years living in rural poverty with her grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee (April 15, 1900 – February 27, 1963), who was so poor that Winfrey often wore dresses made of potato sacks, for which the local children made fun of her.[24] Her grandmother taught her to read before the age of three and took her to the local church, where she was nicknamed "The Preacher" for her ability to recite Bible verses. When Winfrey was a child, her grandmother would hit her with a stick when she did not do chores or if she misbehaved in any way.[25] At age six, Winfrey moved to an inner-city neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her mother Vernita Lee, who was less supportive and encouraging than her grandmother had been, largely as a result of the long hours she worked as a maid.[26] Around this time, Lee had given birth to another daughter,...
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