"I started out," explains Winfrey, "being a colored girl in Mississippi."
"My life," she says, "would have been completely different, had I not been born right in that year - Brown vs. the Board of Education..."
The beauty magazine cover also marks a triumph of a different sort for Winfrey, who has slimmed down after weighing as much as 237 pounds at one point. That's "more than the heavyweight champion of the world," Winfrey says. "I was sitting there one day, and they announced Mike Tyson's weight. He was 218. I weighed more than he did."
She calls her appearance on the cover of Vogue "a big ol' vanity moment, but it also, to me, speaks to what anybody can do."
Winfrey remembers an earlier triumph, too. It happened when she was about 10 years old, "sitting on the linoleum floor, I remember it, with my back against the sofa covered with a green spread, watching a Magnavox black-and-white TV. Sidney Poitier got out of the limousine for the Oscars. And Sidney Poitier won that night... I remember being a 10-year-old colored girl, thinking, 'A colored man did that. Maybe I can, too.' That's what celebritydom is. Not to say you're special, not to say you're better than other people, but to say, 'Hey. This is how you do it.'"
Winfrey kept a journal during the filming of Beloved. She wrote on the first day of shooting that there was a meeting in her trailer because she was looking "too pretty" on camera.
Winfrey couldn't believe it. "Too pretty," she says, was something she never expected to be called.