LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Oprah Winfrey on Sunday declared a “new day” for women and girls facing down abusive men as her powerful speech to the Golden Globe Awards stirred talk that she has a political future.
Within moments of the daytime television trailblazer’s remarks at the Hollywood gala, effusive fans called for her to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020, although she has given no indication she is interested.
The 63-year-old Winfrey, whose former talk show ushered in an era of confessional television and helped make her a billionaire, delivered a forceful but tightly focused speech that brought together issues of gender, poverty and race as she accepted a lifetime achievement award.
She saluted the #MeToo movement that has quickly gained steam after revelations of rampant sexual misconduct by film mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Paying tribute to Recy Taylor, an African American woman who daringly reported her 1944 gang rape by six white men in Alabama and died last month just short of her 98th birthday, Winfrey deplored “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!” Winfrey said to a standing ovation and even some tears in the audience.
“So I want all the girls watching here now to know that a new day is on the horizon,” Winfrey said. “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,” she said.
Winfrey highlighted her own life rising up from a violence-scarred childhood. She recalled her awe as a girl watching television in Milwaukee when Sidney Poitier became the first black person to win the Oscar for best actor in 1964.
She also hailed the role of the media, so often maligned by Trump as “fake news”.
“It’s the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice,” she said. “I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times.”
At the start of the Golden Globes, host Seth Meyers playfully encouraged Winfrey to run for president against Trump. For some of Winfrey’s fans, a presidential run didn’t seem far-fetched after her speech, with the topic quickly taking off on social media.
“As I sit here in tears…I have never ever seen such a speech,” country singer Billy Gilman tweeted.
“@Oprah, my friend. Please run for President. This world needs more of THAT. WOW.”