Angela Bassett gave a stirring speech about female empowerment at the Glamor Women of the Year event on Tuesday night.
The “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” star, who was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the event, reflected on the brave women, on and off screen, who have impacted her life.
“We’re underrated like Rosa Parks, who was supposed to be meek and soft, without a voice,” he said. “But one evening in December 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks said that: “When that white driver took a step back toward us…I felt a determination that covered my body like a quilt in a night of winter.” His refusal to give up his seat on the bus that day historically propelled the struggle for black civil rights in this country.”
Bassett played Parks, a woman he called “the mother of the freedom movement,” in the 2002 TV movie, “The Rosa Parks Story.”
He went on to talk about the historic achievements of pilot Bessie Coleman.
“We are not afraid like Bessie Coleman, a manicurist at a local Chicago barbershop who wanted to learn to fly but was rejected by our nation’s flight schools,” he said. “She didn’t give up. She learned to speak French, attended flight school in France and, in 1921, became the first black and Native American female pilot. Brave Bessie, as she gave herself to meet, he built a successful business doing air shows, in an airplane he owned, for this country, a country that tried to deny his dream.”
Bassett had her breakout performance as Tina Turner in the 1993 film, “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” so it was only fitting that she mentioned the music icon.
“We are resilient like Tina Turner, who gave up everything she had worked for, except her name, to earn freedom from abuse,” he said. “She started anew, reimagining her career as a rock ‘n’ roll artist, a genre that no black woman had successfully charted. Tina Turner became one of the most admired and successful artists worldwide , earning an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on his own merit.”
Bassett also spoke about his own mother.
“We are resourceful like my mother, Betty Jane, who was a single mother who raised her daughters to be women of purpose and pride who could stand on their own,” she said. “She often struggled to make it to the end of the month, no way out, as we women do from time to time, but she always made sure we had exactly what we needed.”
Other honorees at the event included, Aurora James, HAIM, Jennifer Hudson, Dr. Rebecca Gomperts and Shannon Watts, who appear on the digital covers of Glamor this month.
Bassett concluded his speech with a call to action.
“The legacies of these women and so many more are what keep me going when the odds seem stacked against me. Against us. And as I stand here tonight, I challenge all of us to think about what our contributions will be going forward humanity. What will you do to ensure that future generations of girls and women exist in a world of equality and equity? And when you’re told you can’t, or won’t, that it’s impossible, when doubt or fear start picking up your spirit, let determination cover your body like a quilt on a winter’s night. And press forward. The world needs you, quite possibly more than ever. The world has always needed us.”