Brow Beat

Watch Viola Davis’ Stirring Speech at the 2018 Women’s March

The 2018 Women’s march on Saturday brought out hundreds of thousands of protestors in cities around the world to voice their discontent with Donald Trump’s presidency (and make some pretty great signs in the process). In Los Angeles, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets, marching from Pershing Square to Grand Park, where politicians, actors, and activists addressed the crowd. The highlight was a fiery speech from Academy Award winner Viola Davis, who opened by quoting Malcolm X and paraphrasing a passage from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” then pivoted to sexual assault and the #MeToo movement.

“We only move forward when it doesn’t cost us anything,” Davis told the crowd. “But I’m here today saying that no one and nothing can be great unless it costs you something.” She said that she was there not on her own behalf, but for the women who couldn’t speak for themselves:

I am speaking today, not just for the Me Toos, because I was a Me Too. But when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence. The women who are faceless. The women who don’t have the money and who don’t have the constitution and who don’t have the confidence, and who don’t have the images in our media that gives them a sense of self-worth enough to break the silence that’s rooted in the shame of assault, that’s rooted in the stigma of assault.

Davis, who grew up in poverty, went on to explain that she cared about these issues on a very personal level, because she herself a victim of sexual assault at an early age:

I am always introduced as an award-winning actor. But my testimony is one of poverty. My testimony is one of being sexually assaulted and very much seeing a childhood that was robbed from me. And I know that every single day, when I think of that, I know that the trauma of those events are still with me today. And that’s what drives me to the voting booth. That’s what allows me to listen to the women who are still in silence. 

In a day filled with women telling their stories, Davis’ speech stands out, both because of her expression of solidarity with other women who are suffering and because of her reminder that neither fame nor money can repair the damage done to victims of sexual assault. Watch Davis’ full speech above.