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Speeches in the News: Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey Speech at Golden Globes

Oprah Winfrey's speech at the Golden Globes award ceremony was met with a standing ovation. Such was the reaction that the BBC website described her speech as the first move in a Presidential candidacy:

Her speech at the Globes sounded an awful lot like a presidential candidate on the campaign stump - polished and effective.

Here are a few reasons why.

Personal touch

"In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother's house in Milwaukee, watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: 'The winner is Sidney Poitier.'"


Authenticity has become a buzzword in American politics of late, ever since Donald Trump skewered a field of polished politicians on his way to the White House in 2016. Winfrey opened her speech on Sunday night by recalling what it was like when she was a child, watching the first black person win a major Academy Award.

The "humble roots" narrative is a staple for many an accomplished politician, a way of grounding candidates to ordinary Americans despite their rise to the nation's elite. By reminding viewers of her childhood spent on "linoleum floors" - in Wisconsin, a rust-belt swing state, no less - Winfrey hits the mark.

Equally the Financial Times ran an article praising her remarkable oratory:

“Their time is up,” Oprah Winfrey said. The applause gathered. A handful of people got to their feet. “Their TIME is UP!” she repeated, louder, and more chairs emptied. She left a long pause, and when she repeated the phrase a third time she did so quietly, almost as an afterthought, a calm restatement of what was now an obvious truth: “Their time is up.” That was a little masterstroke of delivery. A tricolon whose third term — calm, reflective, not so much a call to action as the confident reflection on a done deal — bespoke power, control and certainty. Here was what will be looked back on as a defining speech of the #MeToo moment; and, perhaps it’s not too much to speculate, on the history of the Winfrey presidency. For a speech to work well, a speaker has to have personal authority, or ethos, and they have to hit the right moment in time — what the Greeks called kairos.

There is now a trending hashtag #oprah2020.

Here is the text of Oprah's speech in full:


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