Oprah Winfrey dedicates Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement award to civil rights icon Recy Taylor
When Oprah Winfrey strolled to the podium at the Golden Globes to accept her Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Achievement award, what happened next seemed to capture the attention of the entire nation for nine minutes and forty seconds. Winfrey was not content to be the sole focus of her speech, however, and towards the end of her speech, she invoked the name of Recy Taylor, a woman whose story had been chronicled in a landmark text written by Danielle L. McGuire describing the unique horrors that Black women faced during the Civil Rights movements of the 1960’s.
Taylor, Winfrey surmised, was a name that too many had lost to the darkness of history, and she saw fit to remind the nation and the world of Taylor’s horrific ordeal and the work of Rosa Parks as an anti-rape activist:
“In 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and mother walking home from a church service she’d attended in Abbeville, Alabama, when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped, and left blindfolded by the side of the road coming home from church,” Oprah explained. “They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone, but her story was reported to the NAACP where a young worker by the name of Rosa Parks became the lead investigator on her case and together they sought justice. But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted.”
Recy Taylor died two weeks ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. Oprah noted that her life and death was the story of valiant women fighting against powerful men. “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men,” Winfrey continued. “But their time is up. Their time is up.”
Their time is up. And I just hope—I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth, like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on. It was somewhere in Rosa Parks’ heart almost 11 years later, when she made the decision to stay seated on that bus in Montgomery, and it’s here with every woman who chooses to say, “Me too.” And every man—every man who chooses to listen.
There is a tremendous gravity in arguably the most recognizable Black woman in the world stopping the world to remind it of the Black women that it so easily forgets, even as it venerates everyone else who benefits from Black women’s ceaseless work to create a better world.
Watch Oprah Winfrey’s powerful speech here: