Miss Vernita Lee (left) with he daughter Oprah

This week, the world was rocked by the tragic news that Miss Vernita Lee had passed away at the age of 83. Though best known as the mother of Oprah,  Miss Lee was a hardworking productive woman in her own right,  who added real value working as a domestic, and making people’s homes clean and beautiful.

Born in 1935, Lee grew up poor in rural Kosciusko Mississippi, where she had been raised by her mother Miss Hattie Mae who had only a few years of schooling and her father Mr. Earless Lee who had so little schooling, he could not write his own name.

Lee herself would not complete high school, finding herself an unwed teenage mother to Oprah.   Despite this adversity,  Lee took charge of her life by packing up and moving to Milwaukee in the 1950s.  She was part of the great migration of blacks going North, seeking a better life, and would later send for six-year-old Oprah, who lived with Lee (on and off) until the age of fourteen.  She had four children (though two have passed on), one of whom (Oprah) would grow up to be the World’s only black billionaire (from 2004 to 2007) and the World’s most influential woman.