15 Feb BLACK HERSTORY MONTH: OPRAH WINFREY
Boulo Solutions would not be here if it wasn’t for women. Women are incredibly powerful, and there is no denying the trailblazers they are. In honor of Black History Month, Boulo will be highlighting the story of powerful Black women every week, in other words, we are celebrating Black HERstory month. Today, we have the honor of highlighting one of many: the resilient Oprah Winfrey.
Have you heard of Oprah Winfrey?
What kind of question is this? Of course, you have. To inform about Oprah Winfrey, one doesn’t even have to speak much because of how well known she is. However, what you may not know is what Oprah had to go through to be where she is now. Her childhood was rough. Her mother was a teenage mom doing it all on her own. She struggled to find work to provide for her family, and because of this Oprah was shuffled between family members. After, Oprah Winfrey lived in a boarding house with her mother where she would not only grow up around extreme poverty but also endure years of sexual and physical abuse. It wasn’t until she was 14 years old, that she was finally able to experience a stable childhood, after moving in with her dad. During this time she discovered her passion for media, and this is when her success would start to take the course.
What should you take out of Oprah Winfrey’s story?
What we can learn from Oprah is that literally, nothing defines us. We choose the parts that define us. Oprah did not let her childhood define her, instead, she became a woman of firsts. To name a few, she became the first Black female news anchor before the age of 20 in Nashville, the first and only Black woman on the Forbes list of the 400 richest people in America, the first Black female billionaire in the US, and so much more! From the beginning of her career, she knew who she was and advocated for herself fully. Her advice? “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” Due to this mentality, Oprah is the icon she is today.
As women, we have heard countless excuses as to why we can’t be leaders – too emotional, not enough experience, can’t make the hard decisions, and many more. However, what if all the qualities that have been put against us in becoming leaders make us the best for the job? Want to know why Oprah became a nationwide sensation? Because she was emotional! According to the Guardian, “she wore her heart on her sleeve, and people loved that about her.” She had these emotions because of her past, and because of that people loved it. Oprah turned the lowest-rated talk show in Chicago to the highest-rated one. Three years later, the show would be renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” So, instead of asking yourself if you are too emotional, embrace how empathetic you are to others. You are the only one who can define yourself, why not make it something good?
Encouragement from Oprah Winfrey:
For those who are having trouble letting their past define them:
- “You can have it all.”
- “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”
- “When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”
- “I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who, from an early age, knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.”
- “Dare to be different. Be a pioneer. Be a leader. Be the kind of woman who in the face of adversity will continue to embrace life and walk fearlessly toward the challenge.”
- “Challenges are a gift that forces us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”
- “What we dwell on is whom we become – as a woman thinks, so she is.”
- “Self-esteem comes from being able to define the world in your terms and refusing to abide by the judgments of others.
- “As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you – the first time around.”
Saner, Emine. “Oprah Winfrey: From Poverty to America’s First Black Billionaire …” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 12 Jan. 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/jan/12/oprah-winfrey-unlikely-to-run-for-us-president-but-could-win-if-she-did.
Elkins, Kathleen. “From Poverty to a $3 Billion Fortune – the Incredible Rags-to-Riches Story of Oprah Winfrey.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 28 May 2015, https://www.businessinsider.com/rags-to-riches-story-of-oprah-winfrey-2015-5#:~:text=At%20age%2014%2C%20Winfrey%20broke,would%20start%20to%20take%20course.&text=She%20became%20the%20first%20black,co%2Danchor%20position%20in%20Baltimore.