By Ellen McGirt
Updated: January 8, 2018 2:05 PM ET

There were many things to talk about at the Golden Globes: Seth Meyers’s spot-on monologue; the victory of Sterling K. Brown and Aziz Ansari’s historic win; the agony of the “Get Out” and “Girls Trip” shut-outs; Natalie Portman’s deft mic drop as a presenter; the fact that gender and ethnic diversity in Hollywood still feels like a distant dream.

But the most important honorees were the people who typically don’t get invited to award shows.

Instead of publicists or arm candy, many of the high-profile stars, all supporters of the Time’s Up initiative, brought other dates to the red carpet.

While we failed to see this level of “be our guest,” response to #OscarsSoWhite, I’m tentatively calling this an intersectional win.

Nominees or presenters Laura Dern, Amy Poehler, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Emma Watson, Michelle Williams and Shailene Woodley brought activists as their guests, all of whom have been working tirelessly on wrenching social issues, largely in obscurity. And they all came prepared to fight for justice.

All the entertainers graciously shared the spotlight by teeing up the issues represented by their expert dates, many of whom had clearly become friends.

Tarana Burke was the guest of Michelle Williams. Burke is the founder of the #MeToo movement, and a senior director of Girls for Gender Equity, a grassroots organization aiming to remove barriers for girls and women of color and their communities.

“I could never envision it growing like this,” said Burke in her red carpet moment. “This moment is so powerful because we’re seeing a collision of two worlds — well, maybe collision is not the best word,” she laughed, settling on collaboration. “A collaboration between these two worlds that people don’t usually put together,” she said.

Everyone looked resplendent in black evening wear, a move that worked to send a message of solidarity. (Color me surprised. I was skeptical.)

Burke posted a joint statement from the activists about their participation in the event:

Too much of the recent press has been focused on perpetrators and does not adequately address the systemic nature of violence including the importance of race, ethnicity and economic status in sexual violence and other forms of violence against women. Our goal in attending the Golden Globes is to shift the focus back to survivors and on systemic lasting solutions. Each of us will be highlighting legislative, community-level and interpersonal solutions that contribute to ending violence against women in all our communities. It is our hope that in doing so, we will also help broaden conversations about the connection to power, privilege and other systemic inequalities.”

Praise also goes to Oprah Winfrey, the first African American woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Award. She stole the show with a deeply moving speech that expressed gratitude to all women, including those serving in the military, who have silently endured assault and harassment because they had no other choice but to keep working.They’re the women whose names we’ll never know,” she said.

She also evoked the name of Recy Taylor, who was brutally abducted and raped in 1944 by six armed white men in Alabama. With the assistance of a young NAACP investigator named Rosa Parks, she attempted to seek justice she never received. “But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow,” says Winfrey. “She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.”

Let’s hope so. More on the other Golden Globe stars below:

  • Rosa Clemente, a former vice presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket (2008) and a community organizer focused Puerto Rican independence, attended with Susan Sarandon.
  • Billie Jean King, tennis champion, founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, and more recently the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative dedicated to inclusive leadership, attended with Emma Stone. Stone was nominated for her portrayal of King in the film “Battle of the Sexes.”
  • Saru Jayaraman is the co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, an advocacy organization for low-wage restaurant workers. She attended with Amy Poehler.
  • Marai Larasi, the executive director of Imkaan, a network of organizations dedicated to ending violence against black and underrepresented women in the UK, went with Emma Watson.
  • Calina Lawrence, a Suquamish Tribe member, singer and activist for a wide variety of cause, including racial injustice, police brutality, suicide prevention and Native American treaty rights, attended with Shailene Woodley.
  • Ai-jen Poo, the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, attended with Meryl Streep. She is also a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient and the co-director of Caring Across Generations, a coalition of advocacy organizations working to restore dignity to aging and transform long term care in the U.S.
  • Mónica Ramírez, is the co-founder and president of Alianza Nacional de Campesina, fights sexual violence against farmworkers and advocates for gender equity on behalf of Latinas and immigrant women. She was the guest of Laura Dern.


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