On Sunday, Oprah Winfrey was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes. She became the first black woman to receive it and delivered a stirring speech about equality and empowerment that brought those in attendance at the Beverly Hilton hotel to their feet and further stoked speculation she may run for president of the United States in 2020.
Winfrey began by recalling her own experience as a little girl growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1964 watching Sidney Poitier win the Academy Award for best actor for his performance in Lilies of the Field. It was the first time a black man had won the award, and, nearly two decades later, she once again watched in awe as Poitier took home the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes in 1982.
“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,” Winfrey said of Poitier’s Oscar win. “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.”
Recognizing that she too made history Sunday night as the first black woman to win the Cecil B DeMille award, Winfrey said she hoped young women watching at home were emboldened to believe that anything is possible and the inequalities and injustices that have long existed may soon be a thing of the past.
“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,” she said. “It’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace.”
Invoking the message of Time’s Up, a new organization dedicated to addressing “the systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace that have kept underrepresented groups from reaching their full potential,” Winfrey praised the women who have come forward to share their experiences with sexual and workplace harassment and offered hope for the future.
“I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you,” Winfrey said, “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,” she continued. “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 who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”
Watch the speech below: