It was undeniably the most electrifying moment of the 2018 Golden Globes: Oprah Winfrey, the actor, author, entrepreneur, and humanitarian, accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to entertainment, and gave a speech that captured the systemic inequality that’s still rooted at the heart of the entertainment industry. But Winfrey’s speech also offered a note of hope. It will be women, she said, who “become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.” Her words prompted a flood of speculation that Winfrey might be mulling an entry into politics, but more importantly, they captured the complicated dynamics of an evening where virtually all the women present were wearing black.
Here, a full transcript of Winfrey’s remarks.
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.”
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’ve inspired me, who’ve challenged me, who’ve 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’s been the definition of what a friend is and Stedman, who’s been my rock. Just a few to name.