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Acceptance Speeches as Cultural Cornerstones

Oprah Winfrey poses in the press room with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Oprah Winfrey poses in the press room with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

by Maddie Badowski, Creative Director

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For several years now, the in-person and at-home audiences of award shows such as the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the Grammys, the VMAs and others, have been exposed to politically-charged acceptance speeches, whether they’re geared toward politicians or meant to highlight social movements. Here are some of the most-talked about.



  • 1973: Marlon Brando


Known as one of the first few (if not the first ever) particularly politically-charged acceptance speeches, the speech given after Marlon Brando was awarded Best Actor for his role in The Godfather, was given by Sacheen Littlefeather (aka Marie Cruz), Native American activist. Brando purposefully wasn’t present to accept his award and instructed Littlefeather to deny acceptance of the award and deliver a message regarding the treatment and representation in the film industry. The duo wanted the audience and everyone at home watching to know that they couldn’t accept the award due to “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry, on television and in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee.” Littlefeather then goes on to ask for “understanding with love and generosity,” and give thanks for the award on behalf of Brando.


  • 2003: Michael Moore


Moore was awarded Best Documentary Film for Bowling for Columbine in 2003 and gave what is known as the “Anti-Bush Oscars Speech,” condemning then-President George W. Bush for his actions regarding the war in Iraq. Moore ended the speech by saying, “We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush; shame on you.”


  • 2014: John Legend & Common


Shortly after performing their song “Glory,” featured in the film Selma, artists John Legend and Common were awarded the Oscar for Best Original Song. Completely in alignment with the message of the film and accompanying song, Legend and Common focus on civil rights in their speech and reiterate that “the struggle for justice is right now.” Common began the speech by mentioned Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the movement he lived and died for and connected the history of the civil rights movement to the present. The duo mentioned a reminder given by artist Nina Simone that “it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live,” and ended the speech assuring the audience: “When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you that we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.”


  • 2014: Patricia Arquette


While accepting her award for Best Supporting Actress in her film Boyhood, Patricia Arquette gave women’s rights, and specifically inequality in pay, the microphone, forwardly urging that “It’s [women’s] time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” Mainly, Arquette highlights the pay gap between men and women, given that women have “given birth to every taxpayer and citizen in this country.”


  • 2017: Meryl Streep


Meryl Streep thoughtfully addresses the responsibilities that the press and actors in America have during Donald Trump’s presidency and beyond while accepting the Cecil B. de Mille Award at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards, starting by exclaiming that, at its core, Hollywood is “just a bunch of people from other places.” Streep argued that a segment of America withhold support of minorities even though they have reliance on an industry that is made up of a diverse group, and mentioned the names of several actors in the industry, and where they are from, to further prove her point that “If you kick [industry workers] all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”


  • 2018: Oprah Winfrey


Oprah Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. de Mille Award at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards and took the opportunity to recognize being the first black woman to ever receive the award as a privilege and explained how important it would be that little girls watching at home would see a black woman being celebrated the way that Sidney Poitier was celebrated when he won the same award in 1964. Winfrey explained that she, as a little girl, was inspired by watching Poitier receive the award. She then shifted the topic to address the recent movement “Me Too,” in which women would share their stories of sexual assault and abuse in order to stand in unity and fight for safety and security. Winfrey closes the speech by assuring women everywhere that “a new day is on the horizon,” and that “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.”


  • 2018: Logic


Although he wasn’t accepting an award, artist Logic gave a speech at the end of his 2018 Grammys performance per a request by the Recording Academy, and used the opportunity to address a comment that had just been made by President Trump. He started by saying, “Black is beautiful. Hate is ugly,” and centered his speech around the beauty of the diversity in America and the beauty of the sources of that diversity. Logic emphasizes that equality and acceptance/tolerance is not only an American issue, but a worldly issue, by closing with: “I say unto you, bring us your tired, your poor and any immigrant who seeks refuge. For together, we can build not just a better country, but a world that is destined to be united.”

About the Writer
Maddie Badowski, Creative Editor

Hey y'all! I’m Maddie, and I’m serving the staff as the Creative Director this year. Creativity is something I believe is always valued and never goes...

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