The legendary broadcaster was the first black woman to take home the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement honour at the Beverly Hilton hotel and used her time in the spotlight to address important issues.
Oprah, who was presented with the award by her ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ co-star Reese Witherspoon, began her speech by discussing Sidney Poitier, the first black man to win an Oscar when he picked up the Best Actor prize in 1964, and the 1982 winner of the Cecil B. DeMille honour.
She said: “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 honour – 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 have inspired me, who challenged me, who sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible.”
She then went on to praise press freedom as she gave thanks for her recognition.
She said: “I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. We know the press is under siege these days. We also know it’s the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice.”
The 63-year-old star – who, like the majority of those in attendance wore black as part of the anti-harassment Time’s Up initiative – then spoke about sexual abuse and the recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations to hit Hollywood, insisting the issue goes beyond the entertainment industry and “transcends transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace” as she paid tribute to the unnamed victims across the world.
She added: “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, engineering, 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 then talked about Recy Taylor, a black woman who was abducted in 1944 in Alabama and raped by six men but unable to prosecute her abusers, and the ‘Selma’ star vowed “time is up” for the reign of powerful men suppressing women.
She said: “Recy Taylor died 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday.
“She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. 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. Their time is up.”
As she ended her rousing speech, Oprah received a standing ovation.
She concluded: “So I want all the girls watching here, 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.”