Oprah Winfrey’s Acceptance Speech at the 2018 Golden Globes – Stand Up!
Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globe Speech
This past January 7th, Oprah Winfrey received a special honor from the entertainment community called a Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes.
The Golden Globes official site gives this background on themselves:
“Known worldwide for its glittering Golden Globe Awards ceremony held every January and its multi-million dollar donations to charity, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had humble origins that stemmed solely from a group of journalists’ desire to efficiently and accurately cover all aspects of the world of entertainment.”
And about the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille award, the site states, “When the Hollywood Foreign Press Association decided to establish a special, prestigious award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment, the members wanted it to bear an internationally recognized and respected name. So they turned to a born showman, Cecil B. deMille, who accepted the idea graciously, and the first Cecil B. deMille award went to him in 1952, the year his penultimate film, The Greatest Show on Earth, premiered. The following year, 1953, at the Tenth Annual Golden Globe Awards gala, Walt Disney received the DeMille award.”
For the first time, a black woman received this honor.
In accepting the award, Oprah gave an impassioned speech that received three standing ovations from the audience and made headlines around the world, some wondering out loud if she was considering a political run. In the speech (available – and highly recommended – below in video and text format), she spoke about her life being raised by a hard-working, single mom and the moment as a little girl she watched with great awe and pride as Sidney Poitier receive his Best Actor award (the first black man to receive an Academy Award) at the 1964 Oscars. She shared her understanding of the significance that her own stature and honoring means to little girls watching her give her speech that day.
In addition to being an acclaimed actress, producer, television star, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey at 64 has built a business fortune estimated to be worth 2.9 billion and puts her third on the Forbes’ richest “Self-Made Women” list. As impressive as all this is (and it is impressive!), it was her role as a national television host that really turned her into a beloved and respected household name. From 1986 to 2011, Oprah Winfrey hosted The Oprah Winfrey Show, a daytime talk show, mostly drawing female viewers. Millions of American women tuned in each weekday to listen to her brand of empathetic wisdom as she tackled the many personal and societal issues of the day. For 25 years, Oprah Winfrey interacted and listened, allowing others to share their stories while she was vulnerable about her own. Oprah didn’t shy away from talking about her own difficult childhood which included an incident of sexual assault when she was 9 years old.
Oprah hit the moment in history not only out of the park, but right between the eyes.
True to her legacy, Oprah’s speech at this year’s Golden Globes hit on the major themes not only of her life, but the major themes that Americans are grappling with today. From sexual assault and harassment, issues of civil rights, the value of (and some political administrations undervaluing) the press and of the #MeToo movement itself, Oprah hit the moment in history not only out of the park, but right between the eyes.
Oprah Winfrey has achieved so much in her life. With this latest accolade, she has also followed Sidney Poitier (seen above receiving his “Best Actor” award in 1965) in receiving the DeMille award, which he was presented with in 1982.
Her encapsulation of hope and inspiration…
After this passionate and on-point speech, on February 15th Oprah responded to the questions about a political run in the negative, saying that she is not planning to run for president. She said instead,“I am a listener and I am a connector of ideas,” during the as-of-now definitive 60 Minutesinterview. Whether or not that remains the case, it is my hope that her encapsulation of hope and inspiration, as well as the targeted mirror she held up with her #MeToo references, will not be lost in the rumor mill of political speculation.
Read the full text of Oprah’s Acceptance Speech here:
In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier.” 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 had never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I tried 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 and say that the explanation in Sidney’s performance in “Lilies of the Field”:
“Amen, amen, amen, amen.”
In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B. DeMille award right here at the Golden Globes and it is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award. It is an honor — it is an honor and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them and also with the incredible men and women who have inspired me, who challenged me, who sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible. Dennis Swanson who took a chance on me for “A.M. Chicago.” Quincy Jones who saw me on that show and said to Steven Spielberg, “Yes, she is Sophia in ‘The Color Purple.'” Gayle who has been the definition of what a friend is, and Stedman who has been my rock — just a few to name.
I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association because we all know the press is under siege these days. 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 — to tyrants and victims, and secrets and lies. 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. 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.
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. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.
And there’s someone else, Recy Taylor, a name I know and I think you should know, too.
In 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and mother walking home from a church service she’d attended in Abbeville, Alabama, when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped, and left blindfolded by the side of the road coming home from church. They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone, but her story was reported to the NAACP where a young worker by the name of Rosa Parks became the lead investigator on her case and together they sought justice. But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor died ten 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 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. It was somewhere in Rosa Parks’ heart almost 11 years later, when she made the decision to stay seated on that bus in Montgomery, and it’s here with every woman who chooses to say, “Me too.” And every man — every man who chooses to listen.
In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave. To say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere and how we overcome. I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights. So 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.
Congratulations, Oprah Winfrey!
Oprah Winfrey receives the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018
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