Oprah Winfrey recalls traumatic night she was forced to sleep on porch because she was ‘too dark’

Decades before she became the queen of daytime TV, a media mogul and an Oscar-nominated producer, a young Oprah Winfrey was forced to sleep on a porch because her mother’s light-skinned roommate didn’t like the child’s dark complexion.

The 61-year-old founder of Oprah Winfrey Network currently has a net worth of $3billion, but she has never forgotten her hardscrabble childhood marked by crushing poverty, physical abuse, rape at age nine and an early pregnancy.

Winfrey spent the first years of her life in rural Mississippi with her grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee, who taught her how to read before the age of three and introduced her to religion.

At age six, Oprah was separated from her tough but encouraging grandmother and sent to live with her mother, Vernita Lee, in Wisconsin.

‘I suddenly land in a place that’s completely foreign to me. I don’t know anybody. I don’t really even know my mother,’ Oprah told HuffPost OWN. ‘I walked into that space feeling completely alone and abandoned.’

Vernita, who had Oprah as an unwed teenage, was working as a housemaid in Milwaukee and sharing a house with another woman.

‘I remember the first night entering into that house and being told that I wouldn’t be able to sleep with my mother and I wouldn’t be able to sleep inside the house,’ Oprah says. ‘There was a little foyer/porch before you actually got inside the house. I was put outside to sleep there.’

Winfrey recalled initially being confused by her banishment, but she then realized that it had to do with her complexion.

‘My mother was boarding with this very light-skinned black woman who could have passed for white… I could tell instantly when I walked in the room that she didn’t like me. It was because of the color of my skin.’

Winfrey also evoked the porch episode in Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr’s 2007 biography Finding Oprah’s Roots, revealing that her mother’s housemate, a Miss Miller, loved her light-skinned half-sister, Patricia, but didn’t like her because ‘I was nappy-headed colored child,’ she was quoted in the book as saying of herself.

As she slept outside, Oprah, who as a toddler got the nickname the Preacher for her uncanny ability to recite Bible verses, said she was comforted by her faith.

‘I remember praying on my knees the very first night I had been removed from my grandmother,’ she says. ‘I don’t remember ever shedding a tear about it because I knew that God was my father, Jesus was my brother, and they were with me.’

This Sunday at 8pm Eastern Time, Oprah presents on OWN a new seven-part documentary series titled Belief that explores the origins of various faiths around the world.

Source: The DailyMail

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