True Power

True Power

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oprah and Aunt Catherine Carr-Esters

“I’m sorry this book portraying her falsely was ever written and that I participated by answering questions…Kitty Kelley misquoted me when she said I told her who your father was…’How could I know?’” direct quote from Ms. Esters.

I visited Oprah's cousin Ms. Esters on the smae day Kitty Kelly biographer had stopped by for an interview. Ms. Ester encouraged me to write and publish my first book and I was developing an idea on a book signing at our local library (Attala County Library) in the following month. I asked my friend what did the writer want.

"She wanted some dirt on Oprah, but she didn't get any from me. I told her Oprah has done many good things like the Oprah Winfrey Boys and Girls Club she built here. She wanted some dirt, but she didn't get it from me."

Ms. Esters an author herself, knows the ins and outs of writing. One slip of the tongue and things can go wrong. Her own book "Jay Bird Creek" is a memoir of growing up in the birthplace of Oprah. It recounts the difficulties of growing up in Mississippi during the time of Jim Crow. But anyone who has met and spoke to Ms Esters knows she is a proud woman and family pride runs even deeper.

If asked about any hard times in life she would admit to such but you will always hear a ring of 'dignity' and 'we held our heads high' type of attitude. I'm sure while discussing life she would never admit to abject poverty and starvation, even if it was true.

Kitty Kelly must have realized the type of woman she was interviewing, an older proud black woman of the South. There are alot of denials when it comes to life in the south; past, present, and future.

A photo of Oprah hugging the neck of her older cousin is proudly displayed in Ms. Esters home. There are beautiful full genetic smiles.

Fame and celebrity biographies are meant to tear families apart, but I hope these family members can weather the storm.

After reading an early draft of Jay Bird Creek and My Recollections, Oprah Winfrey wrote to her cousin Katharine Carr Esters and said, "Now I know where our strength comes from This is indeed a story of remarkable strength, not to mention stubbornness, imagination, courage, and just plain hard work -- all of them essential traits for a poor black girl trying to survive the Depression in Jim Crow Mississippi. In the end, Esters did much more than survive: She used her own struggle as a model to help others fighting to preserve their dignity and place in the world. This is a story of one woman's political awakening. After learning the principles of organizing in the midst of the Civil Rights struggle in Milwaukee, she retuned to Mississippi, where she has served on the state's Mental Health Board of Directors, on its Probation and Parole Board, and on its Governor's Advisory Council. In one way or another, Katharine Carr Esters has spent all of her 82 years struggling, working, fighting to give people -- black people, most obviously, but all people, especially women and the poor -- a full stake in life. This has been a life that has mattered."


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