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Oprah Winfrey includes military women in her Golden Globes speech

Oprah Winfrey backstage at the 75th Annual Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

ALLEN J. SCHABEN/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS

By MEREDITH BLAKE | The Los Angeles Times (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 8, 2018

Oprah Winfrey may not be running for president — yet — but on Sunday, it felt like she was kicking off her campaign.

She accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th Golden Globes on a night focused on sexual harassment within the entertainment business. The talk show guru brought the crowd of black-clad celebrities to their feet with a rousing speech about the power of speaking out against abuse and injustice.

"Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell. And this year we became the story," she said. "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. They're our athletes in the Olympics and they're our soldiers in the military. "

Even before she took the stage, Winfrey was the center of attention. In his opening monologue, host Seth Meyers joked about his hope that she'd run for president (with Tom Hanks as her vice-presidential running mate). Award winners Sterling K. Brown of "This Is Us" and Rachel Brosnahan of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" both gave Winfrey shout-outs in their acceptance speeches.

Winfrey was introduced by Reese Witherspoon, her costar in Disney's upcoming "A Wrinkle in Time." A montage highlighted not only Winfrey's influential 25-year run as host of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," but her accomplishments as an Oscar-nominated actress and producer of films and television series such as "Precious," "The Great Debaters" and "Queen Sugar."

"Thank you for the grace, the wisdom," Witherspoon said. "You've changed our lives."

The first black woman to be honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, Winfrey began her speech by recalling the impact of watching Sidney Poitier win a lead actor Oscar in 1964 for "Lilies of the Field."

"I'd never seen a black man being celebrated like that," she said. "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."

After a nod to the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. and the role of journalists in a fraught time, Winfrey turned to the subject that has dominated Hollywood for months: sexual harassment and abuse." She cited the story of Recy Taylor, a black woman who in 1944 was gang-raped by six white men in Alabama. Taylor died Dec. 28.

"She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men," said Winfrey. "For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up."

As the celebrities in the room rose to give her a standing ovation, Winfrey closed with a message for "all the girls watching here," telling them "a new day is on the horizon" and expressing hope for a time "when nobody ever has to say 'me too' again."

After her speech, Winfrey greeted Tarana Burke, the activist who founded the #MeToo movement, with a hug. Burke, who used Winfrey's messages in workshops, later called it a "full-circle moment."

"It meant so much to me. I don't even want her for the presidency. I just want to create something new for her," Burke said.

Stedman Graham, Winfrey's longtime partner, hinted that Winfrey might be up for a run at the White House. "It's up to the people," he said. "She would absolutely do it."

The reaction from celebrities on social media, where the hashtag #Oprah2020 was soon trending, and in the room at the Beverly Hilton suggested that Winfrey may be a formidable candidate. But trying out a run at the White House wasn't her goal for the night.

"I'm just glad I got through the speech," Winfrey told The Times. "I thought a lot about it. I wanted this to be a meaningful moment."

Times staff writers Amy Kaufman and Jen Yamato contributed to this report. Stars and Stripes added a quote from the transcript of Winfrey's speech.

(c)2018 Los Angeles Times
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