There won’t be a better speech made in 2018 than the one Oprah Winfrey just made at the Golden Globes.
Accepting her Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award, Winfrey took the stage tonight (Jan. 7) and delivered a rousing speech about gender and racial inequality. Her speech was so powerful that not only did it elicit multiple standing ovations in the room but it also prompted those following along on social media to pretty much unanimously anoint the media icon as the next president of the United States.
Indeed, the speech felt very much like one a candidate might deliver during a political campaign—compelling, inspiring, and exquisitely said.
“I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, 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,” Winfrey said. “So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon.”
Winfrey received the award for her prolific career across media, which has garnered countless honors and inspired people around the world with her trademark generosity and conviction in the human spirit.
The first black woman to receive the honor, Winfrey began her speech by talking about watching actor Sidney Poitier receive the best actor award at the 1964 Oscars, and what it meant to her to see an African-American, someone who looked like her, being recognized. “Up to the stage came the most elegant man I ever remembered,” Winfrey said. “His tie was white, his skin was black, and he was being celebrated. I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that.”
As presidential as her speech was, it also returned to many of the themes about emotional honesty and introspection that have made Winfrey so wildly popular as a TV host and media empire figurehead. ”What I know for sure,” she said at one point, “is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” She invoked the story of Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old African American sharecropper who was raped by six white men in 1944, and bravely fought for justice.
“She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men,” Winfrey said. “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 paused as the applause grew and the crowd of Hollywood’s elite leapt to its feet. “Their time is up! Their time is up.”
Winfrey also touched upon press freedom, noting that, without naming names, the American press is “under siege” and must be protected for its “insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption, and to injustice; to tyrants, and victims, and secrets and lies.”
You can watch the entire speech here:
These weren’t the first calls for Oprah to enter the 2020 US presidential race. In a world in which a reality TV star with no political experience sits in the White House, the notion that Winfrey could do the same has become much less farfetched. It had already been floated by political pundits long before tonight’s speech. Winfrey herself has (seemingly) joked about the prospect as well.
Indeed, before she set foot on stage, Globes host Seth Meyers kicked the night off by trying to jinx a president Winfrey into existence, the way he is said to have done when he joked about Donald Trump being unqualified to run for president at the White House correspondents’ dinner in 2011:
On a night filled with important statements about the #MeToo movement and sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond, Winfrey’s speech shined the brightest, signaling the ideal that the industry—and America as a whole–should strive toward.
If Winfrey does decide to run for president in 2020, we may well look back on tonight as the launch of her campaign—just as we now look back at Barack Obama’s keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, the speech that introduced him to America and laid out his manifesto of hope and change.