Oprah Winfrey, in her inspiring acceptance speech for the Cecil B. Demille Award at the 2018 Golden Globes, condemned a “culture broken by brutally powerful men” and predicted the dawning of a new era spurred on by the #MeToo movement.
“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon,” said the actress, producer and media mogul. “And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women .. and some pretty phenomenal men fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders that take us to the time when nobody has to say ‘me too’ again.”
— Golden Globe Awards (@goldenglobes) January 8, 2018
Winfrey opened her jaw-dropping speech by flashing back to her hardscrabble childhood in 1964, when she watched Anne Bancroft present Sidney Poitier with Best Actor at the 36th Academy Awards.
“[Bancroft] opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: ‘The winner is Sidney Poitier.'” she said. “Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white and, of course, his skin was black, and I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I have tried many, many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door, bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses. But all I can do is quote … Sidney’s performance in Lilies From the Field: ‘Amen, amen. Amen, amen.'”
“It is not lost on me,” she continued, “that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award.”
Winfrey, emphasizing that the “press is under siege these days,” continued by pledging her “insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice, to tyrants and victims and secrets and lies.”
“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have,” she said. “And I’m especially proud [of] and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room is celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story. But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.”
Between standing ovations and thunderous applause, Winfrey also spoke of Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old black mother who in 1944 was kidnapped and brutally raped by three white men in Alabama.
“Justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow,” she said. “The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor died 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up!”
Watch the full video of Oprah’s speech below.
By Ryan Reed