Oprah Winfrey accepts the 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award, and speaks onstage during the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, Jan. 7, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)
Talk show host and actor Oprah Winfrey became the first African American woman to be honored with the Cecil B DeMille Award at the Golden Globes, Jan. 8. She used the global platform to say “Time’s Up” for sexual predators in the industry.
Women are no longer afraid to speak the truth, Winfrey said in a rousing speech at the 75th Golden Globes Award ceremony beamed live to millions of screens across the world.
Speaking of gender and racial equality, she also paid tribute to the civil rights movement and ordinary women who stood up against discrimination.
The audience honored Winfrey with a standing ovation as she took to the stage to receive her honor.
The gathering then rose to its feet and remained standing as she sent out a message of hope to all girls.
“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon!”
Winfrey, 63, the 15th woman to receive the honor since its inception in 1952, began her speech with her earliest memory of an African American actor winning an award.
“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 said.
“She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: The winner is Sidney Poitier.”
Poitier was the first African American man to win the Best Actor Oscar for “Lilies of the Field” and also the first black actor to be presented the Cecil B DeMille honor in 1982.
“Up to the stage came the most elegant man I’d ever seen.
I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that. I tried very 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 peoples’ houses. But all she could do was quote Poitier and say, ‘Amen, amen’.”
Winfrey went on to address the sexual harassment scandal that has engulfed Hollywood in recent times and the role of the press in highlighting issues that matter.
Hollywood magnate Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual misconduct was exposed by the New York Times, leading to the movement #MeToo and #Time’s Up movement.
“The press is under siege these days. You also know it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye from corporation and to injustice. To tyrants and victims and secrets and lies. I want to say I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times,” she said.
The media mogul insisted that speaking the truth “is the most powerful tool we all have.”
Winfrey said their fight is not limited to Hollywood and some of the names of the women who have fought for the cause will never be known.
“Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell. And this year we became the stories. But it’s not just the story affecting the entertainment industry.
It’s one that transcends and culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace,” she added.
She said there was change in the air as women are feeling empowered enough voice their opinion.
“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.”
The media mogul remembered Recy Taylor, who died 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday and without justice.
She said Taylor was abducted and raped by six white men in 1944 but the attack never went to trial.
“She lived, as we 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…,” she said.
She said she had interviewed many people who had overcome “some of the ugliest things” that life can offer. They all shared a hope for a brighter morning “even during our darkest nights.”
“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,” she said.
Winfrey said in an interview backstage that she was initially asked to shorten her speech but she declined to do so as she wanted to address the changes in the industry.
“It is a historic moment because I think change is not just on the horizon but imminent,” she said.
The annual award honors people for their outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.
Winfrey’s “A Wrinkle in Time” co-star Reese Witherspoon introduced the actor in a heartwarming speech, where she said, “Oprah’s hugs can end wars.”
“There’s only one person’s name who is a verb, an adjective and a feeling, and that is Oprah,” Witherspoon said.