Sunday, 30 October 2011

Oprah Winfrey - Rags to Riches

The two main quotes I focused on from Letters from an American Farmer for my contemporary example were:

'The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas and form new opinions' Pg 44

'Go thou, and work, and till; thou shalt prosper, provided thou be just, grateful, and industrious'. Pg 66

I chose my contemporary example in the form of a rags to riches story as I believe it truely represents these to extracts from the book.

Oprah's mother moved North to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to find work -- she planned to move Oprah there once she had secured a job. Oprah stayed with her grandmother on her farm in Mississippi.

At 9 and living in Milwaukee, Oprah and her siblings were left with their cousin to watch them, who was 19 at the time. It was this cousin who sexually abused Oprah for the first time -- she was raped, and then taken out for ice cream and told to keep it a secret -- which she did. She was again abused by a family friend and an uncle a couple of years later -- ongoing abuse that she kept silent.
Without receiving much direction from her mother, and unable to discuss her sexual abuse, Oprah resorted to acting out -- skipping school, dating, stealing money from her mother, and running away. Vernita could not handle Oprah's behavior any longer and sent her back to live with her father in Nashville. At 14, Oprah discovered she was pregnant, though she hid this news from her parents until she was in her 7th month. The day she told her father the news of her pregnancy, she went into early labor and delivered her baby that day -- a boy, who died within 2 weeks of his birth.

At 16, Oprah first read the autobiography of Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings -- and was later quoted as saying, "I read it over and over, I had never before read a book that validated my own existence." Dr. Angelou would later become a very close friend of Oprah's. She began to get her life back on track, concentrating on her education and public speaking. Oprah's talent would start to take her places, when in 1970 she won an Elk's Club speaking competition, earning a 4 year college scholarship as the prize.

In 1971, Oprah was chosen to attend the White House Conference on Youth in Colorado and represent Tennessee with one other student. After returning to Nashville, she was interviewed by the radio station WVOL -- the station would later ask her to represent them and participate in a beauty pageant -- Miss Fire Prevention. Oprah would go on to win the competition and was the first African-American to ever win the contest. After her win, the radio station offered her a chance to here her voice on tape -- because of her experience with public speaking, Oprah's skill earned her a part-time position as a newsreader. At 17, Oprah finished out her senior year on the radio -- with a 4 year college scholarship in her future.

Oprah's story stood out to me instantly as she went from having everything that happened to her to being worth £2.9 billion dollars. Many people could have given up and ended up in an extremely bad situation. Oprah has shown vision in her decisions and how she has been successful, she has shown determination that America has been well known for. Oprah has also remained 'grateful' through all of her fame and priveliged. Stories like these help me continue to believe that America remains to a vision.

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