“In 1964, when I was a little girl, I was sitting on a linoleum floor in my mother’s house in Milwaukee, watching Anne Bankroft, who was presenting an Oscar for best male actor. She opened the envelope and said the words that went down in history: the winner is Sidney Poitier.
The most elegant men I have ever seen came on stage. I remember his tie was white and his skin was of course black. I’ve never seen a black men celebrating. I have tried many times to explain what a similar moment means for a little girl, for a child who is watching this scene sitting in a cheap chair that her mother brought from the house she was cleaning. The only thing I can say is the phrase that explains Sidney’s play in Lilies of the Field: “Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.”
In 1982, Sydney received the Cecil B. Demil Award at the Golden Globe ceremony. I know there are little girls who are looking at me now and seeing that I am the first black woman who has received a similar award.
It is an honor and a privilege to share this evening with the extraordinary women and men who have inspired and challenged me to take this stage.
I would like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, as we all know that the press is under pressure today. But we also know that immense devotion and desire to shed light on the absolute truth helps us to see injustice and corruption, tyrants and victims, mysteries and lies.
I want to say that I appreciate the press now more than ever. I really know that telling the truth is the most powerful tool we all have. I am especially proud and inspired by all the women who have been strong enough to share their personal stories with others.
But that’s not only the news that only affects the entertainment industry. These are stories that have transcended culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or job places. So tonight I would like to thank all the women who have endured years of violence and assault because they, like my mother, had children for whom they had to buy food, pay taxes, and make dreams come true.
They are women whose names we will never know. Domestic workers and farmers, women who work in factories or restaurants, are also in academy: serving engineering, medicine and science. They are part of technology, politics and business. They are our athletes at the Olympics and our army soldiers.
There’s another name – Reyes Taylor, which I know and think you should know too. In 1944 she was a young wife and mother. Once, when she was returning home from church, 6 armed white men attacked, raped and left her on the road. They threatened to kill the woman if she would say a word, but her story was reported to NAACP (Association for the Advancement Color People), whose young employee, Rosa Parks, had investigated the case. Together they wanted to achieve justice.
However, in the age of Jim Crow’s laws, this was impossible. The men who tried to destroy her were never punished. Reyes Taylor died 10 days ago at the age of 98. She lived like all of us in a culture that had been destroyed by a brutally powerful men. For a long time, women did not know or believe that they could dare to speak the truth about these [violent] men. But their time is over, their time is over.
Their time is up. And I hope Reyes Taylor died in such a way that she knew – her truth, as well as the truth of many other women who have suffered over the years and are still suffering, continue to march.
Throughout my career, on television or in cinema, I have always tried to do everything I can and say how we feel ashamed, how we are loved and angry, how we are defeated, we retreat, we show perseverance and we win.
I’ve had interviews with people who have seen a lot of ugliness in life, but they shared a hope for a better future and a brighter morning, even on the darkest nights.
That’s why I want all the girls who watch us to know that a new day is on the horizon, and when a new day finally dawned, there will be the merit of many brilliant women, many of whom also sit in this hall. It is also the merit of many phenomenal men who have fought hard to prove that they are leaders who will lead us to a time when no one will have to say #metoo again.”