Oprah Winfrey

by ethnic on June 5, 2009

Birth Name: Orpah Gail Winfrey

Place of Birth: Kosciusko, Mississippi, U.S.

Date of Birth: January 29, 1954

Ethnicity: African-American [including Kpelle, Bamileke, and Zambian]

Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is regarded as one of the most influential women in the world, and possibly the wealthiest African-American of the 20th century. She was the host of The Oprah Winfrey Show from 1986 to 2011.

Oprah’s parents, Vernon Winfrey and Vernita Lee, are both black. Her partner is author and public speaker Stedman Graham. Her birth name is Orpah, after the biblical figure, in the Book of Ruth. She uses the name Oprah, as people usually mispronounced it that way.

Oprah’s story is a rags-to-riches one. She was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to a single teenage mother. She herself became pregnant at the age of fourteen. Unfortunately, her baby died soon after birth. Despite her beginnings, Oprah finished school and received a scholarship into Tennessee State University, where she studied communications. At the age of seventeen, Oprah won the Miss Black Tennessee Beauty Pageant.

A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show African American Lives (2006) stated that Oprah’s genetic ancestry is:

*89% Sub-Saharan African
*8% Native American
*3% East Asian

“East Asian” may refer to more Native American roots. It is not clear if these lineages have been verified/documented genealogically. The same DNA test stated that Oprah has ancestry from the Kpelle people (from what is now Liberia), the Bamileke people (from Cameroon), and a Bantu-speaking tribe (from Zambia).

Oprah’s paternal grandfather was Elmore Winfrey (the son of Sanford Elias Winfrey and Ella Staples). Elmore was born in Mississippi. Sanford was the son of Constantine Winfrey, who was born a slave, in Georgia, and of Violet A. Nunn, who was also born a slave, in North Carolina. Constantine likely took his surname from a slave owner, Absalom F. Winfrey. Oprah’s great-grandmother Ella was the daughter of William Staples and Abigail Howard.

Oprah’s paternal grandmother was Beatrice Woods (the daughter of Thomas/Tom W. Woods and Hattie Ross). Beatrice was born in Mississippi. Thomas was the son of Monroe Woods and Henrietta. Hattie was the daughter of Simon Ross and Katie.

Oprah’s maternal grandfather was Earless/Earlist/Erlisst Lee (the son of Harold/Harry Lee and Elizabeth). Earless was born in Mississippi. Harold was born a slave in Mississippi. He was the son of John Lee and Grace.

Oprah’s maternal grandmother was Hattie Mae Presley/Pressley (the daughter of Nelson/Milton Alexander Presley/Pressley and Amanda Winters). Hattie was born in Mississippi. Amanda was the daughter of Pearce Winters and Henrietta.

A farmer named Noah Robinson, Sr. has stated that he is Oprah’s biological father. It is not clear if this claim has been investigated in any detail.

Sources: Genealogies of Oprah Winfrey – http://www.wargs.com

The Guardian article on DNA tests among African-Americans, 2006 – http://www.guardian.co.uk

Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

andrew January 4, 2017 at 3:24 pm
Capricious October 8, 2015 at 10:45 pm

I love you fopra

neiltennant July 15, 2015 at 5:54 am

i always thought she is biracial

by the way i think she was and is good looking

Zatm81 July 15, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Lol how is she biracial? Does she have one parent of one race and one of another. No. This madness has to stop.

cwm85 July 15, 2015 at 2:57 pm

LOL my mom is Oprah’s complexion my mom is all black. No way is someone’s first thought is Oprah being mix with white or anything. She is 89 percent African with no Euro mix. Sounds about right! She blend right with west African people, like my mom. My dad is Scottish, English and Native Navajo.

neiltennant July 15, 2015 at 3:07 pm

please stop to claim that you african americans are of pure african blood
thats not right

i know there had been those ***** laws in america avoiding that blacks and whites coming together

but in fact there are lot of cases of rape or illegal love between black and whites

thats for sure

cwm85 July 15, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Oprah is clearly not mixed. Her DNA test proved she has zero European admixture. She is 89 percent African and 3 and 8 percent Asian/native American.

California July 24, 2015 at 8:47 pm

You think Oprah is good looking? She’s fugly to me.

WTF January 29, 2015 at 5:14 am

I think she’s so ugly and apparently Waka Flock Flame thinks so too lmfaoo. But he’s ugly as sin so he really shouldn’t be talking.

WTF January 29, 2015 at 5:15 am


black_bahian February 5, 2015 at 10:42 am

she isnt ugly you ignorant,

M June 9, 2015 at 5:42 am

Ugly? I just think she’s average. Are you saying she’s ugly because she’s dark-skinned???

neiltennant December 20, 2014 at 1:10 pm


IT does matter if someone is thin or fat

she looked not good when she had overweight

neiltennant December 20, 2014 at 1:09 pm

im not sure but she looks a little bit caucasian. Of course she is dark. But it could be that she has some european roots

Ryan January 18, 2013 at 3:46 am

her cheekbones and eyes give her a visible Native look

Daisuke November 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm

you people really think your opinion matters in the world

levangelista36 July 11, 2012 at 3:42 am

From a scientific journal:

“Nor am I writing this to argue that there are no races. The fact that a poodle may have 1-10% of bulldog blood somewhere does not make him a bulldog.”

The scientist was discussing different admixtures in different populations of white people and made it clear that just because the white person isn’t purebred does not mean that they are not white. They also noted that the majority of white people have different degrees of African, Asian, and in the case of white Americans, Native American admixture. Some people came out with .05% African while others came out with 6%.

I think the same applies to African-Americans.

This racial purity nonsense is just that . . . nonsense.

Multiethnicchick July 12, 2012 at 12:27 am

interesting point

sadie March 24, 2012 at 3:04 am

She wears colored contact lenses and is absolutely BLACK. She is bigoted!!

levangelista36 July 11, 2012 at 3:25 am

How is she bigoted? Since when does Oprah wear colored contact lenses?

christian March 24, 2012 at 2:51 am

oprah winfrey is not only a wealthy woman but also very intelligent and has a heart

for me she must have something more than only native and african background

she has light brown eyes , which is a sign for a european background

as of 1500 100 percent of all africans in africa (except north africa) had dark brown eyes

and as of 1492 100 percent of all native americans had black eyes

levangelista36 July 11, 2012 at 3:26 am

She had a D.N.A. test. You don’t know what you’re talking about half of the time.

nnnnn November 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm
BRAZIL February 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm


storm January 29, 2012 at 12:16 am

oprah is biracial like everyone else

Liam O'Connel February 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm

like everyone else? what on earth are you talking about? and oprah is NOT biracial…biracial= someone who is 50% one race and 50% another…she is mixed, but she is mostly black

Grace February 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm

No she is mainly black with a slight mixture

Ryan January 18, 2013 at 3:52 am

She is Black with some admixture = African American
Whether White, Native or other…

levangelista36 July 11, 2012 at 3:28 am

Most people in the world are not biracial. Most people in the world are predominantly of one race.

westovermarching October 10, 2014 at 2:04 am

not Black Americans

midori29 February 12, 2018 at 10:38 am

@Westovermarching African Americans are predominantely subsaharan black. You would have to have high dna numbers of Subsaharan black African to be considered African American or at least one black parent has to qualify as AFRICAN AMERICAN or African.

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