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Viola Davis’ delivers an incredibly empowering speech at the Women’s March

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Susan Devaney
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Actress Viola Davis delivered an incredibly powerful speech at the Women’s March in Los Angeles. 

Viola Davis’ empowering speech at the Women’s March in Los Angeles deserves an Academy Award.

The Oscar-winning actress – who’s long been an advocate for women’s rights – took to the stage on Saturday (20 January) and engaged the crowd with a truly passionate address.

“In the words of my fellow American Malcolm X, I’m going to make it plain,” Davis began.

“In 1877, America put laws in place called the Jim Crow laws,” she said. Those laws “restricted the rights of quadroons, octoroons, blacks, Hispanics, Malays … they restricted medical, relationships, education, in all, they restricted life.”

Davis then quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., saying: “I’m not ready to wait a hundred, or two hundred years, for things to change.”

Davis added that the movement for women won’t be easy, and there will be a cost.

“We only move forward when it doesn’t cost us anything,” she said. “But I’m here today saying that no one and nothing can be great unless it costs you something.”

Davis continued by listing statistics of how women of colour are directly affected by sexual abuse, saying:

“One out of every five women will be sexually assaulted or raped before she reaches the age of 18. That women of colour, if they’re raped or sexually assaulted before the age of 18, are 66% more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted again.

“70% of girls who are sexually trafficked are girls of colour. They are coming out of the foster care system, they are coming out of poverty. It is a billion dollar industry. When they go into the sex trafficking business — and they call it a business, trust me — more than likely, they are gang raped.”

Davis then addressed the #MeToo movement, and the women who still feel silenced.

“I am speaking today, not just for the Me Toos because I was a #MeToo,” Davis said.

“But when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence. The women who are faceless.”

Davis went on to address the fact that many women remain silent in the face of sexual assault because they simply don’t have the means to challenge it.

“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 said.

“I am always introduced as an award-winning actor,” Davis continued. “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.”

Many people have taken to Twitter to share their gratitude for Davis’ speech, saying:

“Still trying to recover and gather my emotions from Viola Davis’ words. Phew,” one user posted. 

“Wow! I adore Viola Davis! My inspiration! So much respect for her!” another user posted.

You can watch Davis’ speech in full here.

Images: Rex Features / Instagram