One of the most talked about moments at the 2018 Golden Globe was Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement.
The award itself is an honorary Golden Globe award presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.” The award was first presented on Feb. 21, 1952, according to the Golden Globes website. Winfrey is the first African-American woman to receive the award.
“It’s amazing and long overdo for a Black woman to receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award,” said CEO of Affairs of Isis and co-founder of Women In Media Network Danielle P. Jeter. “It’s a sad reality that this mark of history is no longer shocking to society but still disheartening to see.”
Jeter said Winfrey’s speech not only allowed her to be excited, but also reflective on what she was doing as a businesswoman.
“In 2018 women, especially Black women, are still experiencing a strong lack of diversity among many affluent activities, organizations, and companies,” she said. “These are the types of fights I personally stand and advocate for. It’s time to shake all of this up, especially in Hollywood. It is the same tenacity, courage, and drive that lives in Oprah’s heart, that also lives in mine. And it is these exact sentiments that inspired me to stand up and create Women In Media, a global organization just for us.
“Women In Media was established in 2012 to empower, equip, and encourage women to own their voices,” Jeter added. “How classy and honorable of Oprah to give a speech not just honoring or thanking her business partners or producers but honoring everyday working class woman who on their backs have built this nation. For a young woman like myself, she gave me so much to be excited about and challenged me to be brave.”
During her acceptance speech, Winfrey told her own personal story and touched on various issues ranging from sexual harassment and racial injustice to freedom of the press.
“Oprah Winfrey shook the moral fiber of America by telling the untold story of Recy Taylor while speaking her truth about racism, sexism, abuse of power, sexual assault, and social and economic injustice,” said Councilwoman Cherelle Parker. “She invoked the spirit of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, and all of the African American women sheroes, known and unknown, on whose shoulders we proudly stand.
“She gave women and girls from all walks of life a reason to believe that they can, will, and must overcome any roadblocks in their battles to live and prosper with dignity and respect,” she added. “Ultimately, she reminded us all about the individual power of our voices and why it is so important for women to speak their truth, regardless of how it may be perceived by others. Oprah’s liturgy helped to ensure that #TIMESUP and #METOO isn’t just a moment in history — but a transcendent movement!”
The viral “Me Too” movement started on social media in October 2017 to denounce sexual assault and harassment in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
The phrase, which was created and long used by social activist Tarana Burke, but was popularized by actress Alyssa Milano, encouraged women to tweet and publicize the experiences they may have encountered in the workplace and beyond.
That movement has led to a new campaign called Time’s Up, an initiative launched by Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Traci Ross, Meryl Streep, Eva Longoria and other industry leaders. The campaign will shift the conversation from #MeToo into action.
During her speech, Winfrey addressed both the “Me Too” movement and the Time’s Up Initiative by talking about the legacy of Recy Taylor, a Black woman who was gang-raped by six men in 1944.
Through the NAACP and the efforts of Rosa Parks, Taylor sought justice, but the men were never prosecuted. Taylor died on Dec. 28, 2017, just shy of her 98th birthday.
“I was inspired and deeply moved by Oprah’s Cecil B. DeMille award acceptance speech,” said Councilwoman Cindy Bass. “I applaud Oprah for taking a moment when she was being recognized for her own accomplishments, and using that platform to acknowledge the sacrifices of women and girls who are so often silenced and for taking that moment to honor the late Recy Taylor, a victim of racialized sexual assault who sought justice during the pre-civil rights era.
“It’s so important that young Black girls see people who look like them represented in the media and receiving recognition for their accomplishments,” she added. “I’m hopeful that Oprah and women like her continue to inspire the next generation of young leaders.”
2020 Presidential run?
Winfrey’s impassioned call for “a brighter morning even in our darkest nights” at the Golden Globes has Democratic Party activists buzzing about the media superstar and the 2020 presidential race — even if it’s only a fantasy.
Even so, for Democrats in early voting states, and perhaps for a public that largely disapproves of President Donald Trump’s job performance, the notion of a popular media figure as a presidential candidate is not as strange as it once seemed, given the New York real estate mogul and reality TV star now in the White House.
“Look, it’s ridiculous — and I get that,” said Brad Anderson, Barack Obama’s 2012 Iowa campaign director. While he supports the idea of Winfrey running, it would also punctuate how Trump’s candidacy has altered political norms. “At the same time, politics is ridiculous right now.”
Winfrey’s speech as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award touched on her humble upbringing and childhood wonder in civil rights heroes.
But it was her exhortation of the legions of women who have called out sexual harassers — and her dream of a day “when nobody has to say ‘me too’ again” — that got some political operatives, in early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, thinking Winfrey might be just what the Democrats need.
“I think we need more role models like her that are speaking to young women and trying to restore some hope. The election of Donald Trump was a devastating setback for little girls,” said Liz Purdy, who led Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary campaign.
Trump’s job approval rating sat at just 32 percent in December, according to an Associated Press-NORC poll. And though polls show his approval up slightly since, Trump is the least popular first-year president on record. He has also been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, though he has vehemently denied the allegations.
Winfrey, in September and October, publicly dismissed the notion of seeking the nation’s highest office, though she noted that Trump’s victory made her rethink the requirements of the office.
A representative for Winfrey did not reply to a request Monday for comment from The Associated Press. Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, told the Los Angeles Times that “it’s up to the people” whether she will be president, adding, “She would absolutely do it.”
While some Democrats would embrace Winfrey’s outsider-celebrity status as the party’s answer to Trump, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) noted that Winfrey, like Trump, lacks any kind of experience in government.
“I think one of the arguments for Oprah is 45,” Pelosi said, referring to Trump in shorthand for the 45th president. “I think one of the arguments against Oprah is 45.”
-Thomas Beaumont and Steve Peoples of The Associated Press contributed to this report