The actress, producer and speech master blew the audience away while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award.
In her speech, Winfrey moved the audience (who cheered, shed tears and gave standing ovations) with a powerful speech about women, equality, sexual harassment and more.
1 Oprah Winfrey
Winfrey delivered an impassioned message about the need for change in our society.
Read her full speech below:
2 An Awesome Speech Has Never Been Heard Before
3 The Lady Of Strength
I’d like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, because we all know the press is under siege these days. But we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and injustice. 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, 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 and engineering and medicine and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. There are athletes in the Olympics and 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 a mother. She was just walking home from a church service she attended at Abbeville, Ala., when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped and left blind folded 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. 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 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by the 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! Their time is up. And 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 those marching on. It was somewhere in Rosa Parks’s heart almost 11 years later that she decided to stay seated on that bus in Montgomery, and it's here with every woman who chooses to say 'me too' and every man who chooses to listen.
In my career what I've always tried my best do to, whether on television or on film, is to say something about how men and women really behaved. To say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, how we overcome. I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is the ability to maintain hope or pride of mourning even during our darkest nights. So I want all the girls watching here and 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 never has to say 'me too' again.