Media Mogul, Philanthropist, and Child Advocate are just a few of the titles that describe the diverse person that is Oprah Winfrey. Known to most around the globe simply by her peculiar first name, she was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. The little girl born to simple means has become one of the twentieth century’s most influential people in America and has touched people worldwide.
Oprah Winfrey overcame the obstacles of being an African American girl in the South in the 50’s and 60’s to earn a spot in television news in 1973. She became Nashville’s first African-American TV correspondent on WTVF-TV. After some time in Baltimore news and a local talk show she relocated to Chicago to host A.M. Chicago, a morning show. Within a month Oprah took the show to the number one rated talk show in the Chicago market, one of the top five markets in the country. In 1985 the show was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. From that point on The Oprah Winfrey Show skyrocketed and is currently broadcasted to 144 countries.
Oprah Winfrey is now present in all areas of the media. The mogul has founded O, The Magazine, Oprah.com on the web, and Oprah Radio which is located on Sirius XM Radio. Since announcing the end of the wildly successful show, she has promised her worried fans continued presence by starting OWN, her television channel. These outlets are all tools to broadcast her principles which inadvertently influence America.
Oprah’s actions aim to positively alter the lives of Americans and incline the nation toward becoming more educated, benevolent and caring. Her millions of loyal fans are listening and voluntarily complying. Oprah’s name has been included in Time Magazine’s elite list of the most influential people of the 20th Century. She is the only person to appear on the roster consistently since 2004. Oprah’s influence on America is indisputable.
In order to inspire education and increased national literacy, Oprah announced in 1996 that she would begin Oprah’s Book Club. She personally selects a book and then discusses it with her audiences through her website and the television show. As a result, more than sixty of her selections have become best sellers. Oprah has also sought to spread the concept of generosity by the establishment of Oprah’s Angel Network. A charity aimed at helping women, children and families become more educated and therefore empowered.
Along with cultural influence, Oprah has had significant political impact. In 1993, Bill Clinton signed into law a national database of convicted child abusers. The bill was labeled the “Oprah Bill” because of her 1991 initiation of the National Child Protection Act. Arguably her most infamous political persuasion to date was her support of Barack Obama. It can safely be stated that Oprah’s choice of publicly backing the future president influenced many of her viewers. During the 2008 presidential race she was able to inform a nation about her confidence in then-Senator Barack Obama thanks to her many platforms to help broadcast her views.
But her views have sometimes had a negative effect on Oprah’s life. A simple statement during one of her 1996 episodes regarding mad cow disease generated a libel lawsuit against her. For six weeks she underwent a very public trial in Amarillo. The lawsuit claimed that a negative statement from Oprah Winfrey would sway a nation and influence them to steer away from beef. Ultimately Oprah won the lawsuit in Texas.
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Oprah Winfrey is an icon native to The United States but shared by the world. Her influence has touched millions of lives and incited American events and spun cultural change. Ms. Winfrey is a genuine national treasure to be cherished.