Though criticized for unleashing a confession culture, promoting controversial self-help ideas, Her mother, Vernita Lee (born c. Winfrey's biological father is usually noted as Vernon Winfrey (born c.
1933), a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who had been in the Armed Forces when she was born. A genetic test in 2006 determined that her matrilineal line originated among the Kpelle ethnic group, in the area that today is Liberia.
Winfrey's syndicated show brought in double Donahue's national audience, displacing Donahue as the number-one daytime talk show in America.
Their much-publicized contest was the subject of enormous scrutiny.
She has stated that she was molested during her childhood and early teens and became pregnant at 14; her son died in infancy.However, Mississippi farmer and World War II veteran Noah Robinson Sr. Her genetic makeup was determined to be 89% Sub-Saharan African, 8% Native American, and 3% East Asian.However, the East Asian markers may, given the imprecision of genetic testing, actually be Native American.As a child, she played games interviewing her corncob doll and the crows on the fence of her family's property.Winfrey later acknowledged her grandmother's influence, saying it was Hattie Mae who had encouraged her to speak in public and "gave me a positive sense of myself".After Winfrey's birth, her mother traveled north and Winfrey spent her first six years living in rural poverty with her maternal grandmother, Hattie Mae (Presley) Lee (April 15, 1900 – February 27, 1963), who was so poor that Winfrey often wore dresses made of potato sacks, for which the local children made fun of her.