The Women Who Gave Oprah Strength
Like so many girls of Africa, it was Oprah's grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee, who gave her strength. She raised Oprah on a small plot of land in Kosciusko, Mississippi, until Oprah was 6 years old.
Oprah still remembers watching her grandmother hang clothes on the line. "She said to me, 'You better watch me now, Oprah Gail, because one day you're going to have to learn to do this for yourself,'" Oprah says. "There was just a spirit inside myself that said, 'No, grandmama, I won't.' And I was about 4 years old at the time."
Oprah credits her grandmother with instilling in her the importance of education—the path to possibility. "My grandmother really raised me to be who I am because of her belief in education," Oprah says. "Even though she wasn't very educated, never finished high school, she was strong."
Oprah believes Hattie Mae Lee's spirit lives on in every grandmother caring for their grandchildren in South Africa. "I believe just like my grandmother was a very powerful woman [and] stepped in and took care of me, so are all the other grandmothers in Africa who are stepping in and raising to the best of their ability, their grandchildren," Oprah says.