Of the many highlights of this year’s Golden Globes, it was Oprah Winfrey’s Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech that will have people talking for years to come.
Greeted with a standing ovation, Winfrey opened her speech with an anecdote about Sidney Poitier’s path to a 1964 Oscar win and 1982 Cecil B. DeMille Award victory. As she stood on stage, becoming the first black woman to win that same award, she pivoted to events beyond the world of entertainment: the press, the modern political landscape, and the #MeToo movement.
“We all know the press is under siege these days,” she said, a thinly veiled criticism of a president hellbent on labeling information he doesn’t like as “fake.” “We also know it’s the 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.” — Oprah Winfrey
“I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times, which brings me to this: What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have,” she continued. “And I’m especially proud 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 are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story.”
The #MeToo movement is about more than the present; it’s for those in the past who never received justice.
Winfrey told the story of a woman named Recy Taylor, a black woman abducted and assaulted by six white men. Threatened into silence, Taylor died just days ago, her assailants never receiving the retribution they so rightfully deserved.
“She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men,” said Winfrey. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up. And I just hope — I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth, like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on.”
We must “maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights,” as a new day waits just beyond the horizon, she said.
Sounding less like an acceptance speech and more like the State of the Union for a nation desperate for hope, Winfrey’s impassioned delivery underscored the raw power of the words themselves.
“I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me Too’ again.”
If you missed it live, you’ll really want to watch Winfrey’s powerful speech below.
A complete transcript can be found at Harper’s Bazaar.