Oprah Winfrey’s inspiring acceptance speech for the Cecil B. Demille Award condemned brutally powerful men while spurring on Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement.
Oprah Winfrey is a living work of art. Able to thread the needle of history, purpose, justice and speaking truth to power, Oprah was present and accounted for at last night’s Golden Globes awards. As the first black woman to earn the Cecil B. Demille Award, the history making event was capped by a stirring acceptance speech where Oprah took brutally powerful men who conducted sexual misconduct in the workplace to task while encouraging the #MeToo movement to continue to speak out.
“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon,” said the actress, producer and first black billionaire in America. “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.”
There wasn’t a dry eye or unclenched fist in the house as many adorned with the “Time’s Up” pin made sure to echo Oprah’s sentiments.
She would open her speech by sharing with us her own story when she was a child 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 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.’”
Winfrey also rode for the press, which honored her with this accolade, saying that they are “under siege these days.” Without even mentioning the president by name, we all knew who she was talking about. As she encouraged the press and others in the room to remain “dedicated to uncovering the absolute truth,” the moment was reassuring moment that showcased that hope does come in the morning. “Each of us in this room is celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace.” she said.
Between all of the standing ovations, thunderous applause and huge social media acclaim, Winfrey also found time to weave the life and legacy of Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old black mother who was kidnapped and brutally raped by white men in Alabama in 1944, and drive the point home about time being up for this sort of behavior. “The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted,” Oprah shared with the crowd. “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!”