Oprah Winfrey praises new class of congresswomen in passionate speech

Winfrey speaks at Women in the World Summit

By Chloe Melas, CNN
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage the Women in the World Summit at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on April 10, 2019, in New York City.

(CNN) - Oprah has never been more proud to be an American woman.

The former queen of daytime talk took the stage as the keynote speaker at Wednesday night's Women in the World Summit at New York City's Lincoln Center and praised the 42 newly elected women of Congress.

"And when we fulfill that task of actually making ourselves whole we're set up to fully express what we know -- to now negotiate, differentiate, placate, facilitate, demonstrate, and delegate and on a really good day it helps us carve out 20 minutes to actually meditate," Winfrey said during her 12-minute speech. "And on a really really good day, like the one we had last January, some of those very skills helped get 42 new women sworn into Congress! If I were a gambler, I sure would bet that these 42 new congresswomen have experience with issues that few congressmen have ever had to face."

Winfrey went on to discuss the everyday obstacles that women face in the United States. "Let's see, there is the profound and abiding lack of equitable pay, ditto the lack of affordable childcare. There's the distinct possibility of being sexually assaulted in college or raped on a date, there are the bosses who believe that the female anatomy is theirs for the grabbing, there's the shocking abuse of women serving in our military and we could go on and on and be here all night."

She added, "But if this sort of nonchalant brutality has wounded our spirit in any way I'm here tonight to say it has also galvanized our determination to live with greater depth, with greater tenacity and backbone. This diverse new generation of congresswomen has been forged by fire, and this is what I know for sure, we are all the better and the sharper for it!"

That's when Winfrey then began calling out change makers by name as the crowd erupted into applause.

"Stacey Abrams is quite simply a force of nature. Michelle Obama's extraordinary book, 'Becoming' is on track to be the best-selling memoir of all time. Marie Kondo is sparking new ways to think about home. Greta Gerwig's version of 'Little Women' hits theaters this Christmas. And as of last week, Lori Lightfoot is the first African American, openly gay mayor of Chicago! Will you look at us!"

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