Oprah was awarded with the Cecil B. de Mille Award at the 2018 Golden Globes, and her acceptance speech immediately turned into a viral video, being shared on social media.
It really is a wonderful speech, and Oprah is a fantastic speaker.
Here are a few takeaways on what makes this speech
Oprah knows how to tell a story – this entire speech is under 10 minutes, but Oprah tells several stories within it. She talks about how, as a young girl, she watched Sidney Poitier accept the same award that she was being presented, and how that left an impact on her.
“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’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that. And I tried 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 and say that the explanation in Sidney’s performance in Lilies of the Field: “Amen, amen, amen, amen.”’
The message was timely – The Golden Globes celebrates film making, and this year’s ceremony was held shortly after the wake of women (and some men) in the film industry coming forward to tell their stories of being sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful producers, directors, and actors.
This evolved in the #metoo movement, where women from all walks of life shared their stories of being sexually harassed or assaulted.
Oprah incorporated the #metoo and the #timesup movements into her speech, but she didn’t just talk about the film industry’s recent headlines. She incorporated ALL women who have had this experience.
“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 and engineering and 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.”
Oprah also told a story about Recy Taylor, an African American woman from Alabama who, in 1944, on her way home from church, was raped by 6 white men. Even though the men confessed, charges were never brought against them.
As Oprah brought her speech to a close, she made people feel encouraged, uplifted, and left them with a sense of hope for a better tomorrow.
“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 ever has to say “me too” again.”
This was truly an awesome speech.