Viola Davis: “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else … is opportunity”

I don’t watch television so I did not follow the Emmy Award Ceremony last night. But I do follow the news and when this video showed up in my newsfeed this morning, it begged to be shared.

Viola Davis plays a law professor in the TV show “How to Get Away With Murder”. On Sunday night, she won an Emmy, the first black woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a dramatic series.

Transcript:

‘In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’

“That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.

“So, here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes. People who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.

“And to the Taraji P Hensons and Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goodes, to Gabrielle Union. Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you for the Television Academy. Thank you.”

Some people were not happy about this … because racism is not a thing in America, and what about white women????

Trending on Twitter: Viola Davis’ Emmy Speech

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  7 comments for “Viola Davis: “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else … is opportunity”

  1. JanF
    September 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

    On Saturday night, President Obama addressed the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner and spoke of black women and opportunity specifically careers in math and science. Looks like the arts might be a good place as well. :)

  2. Denise Velez
    September 21, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks – I missed it too. I’m not an awards show person – but this was right on!

    • JanF
      September 21, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      It was a beautiful speech but I suspect it would not have shown up in my news feed if it had not been for the whiny white woman complaining. What is wrong with people that they can’t just happy for someone and celebrate their joy???

  3. Geordie
    September 21, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    I didn’t watch much of the Emmys but I did see this and it was WONDERFUL! Tears were streaming down so many faces in the audience, faces of all hues, and it was just a stunning thing to behold and hear. I hate that show (not surprising, I’m a law professor – but then, a show that was true to the life of law students and law professors would be so booooring!), but I love Viola Davis and I was so happy she won! The message she delivered – opportunity, and solidarity – was powerful. Not surprised it stirred up the haters, but they can suck it!

    • JanF
      September 21, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      I think there was a TV show many years ago called The Paper Chase that was about a law school and crusty old professors. I don’t remember how long it ran or how popular it was.

      Perry Mason was very popular but real life trials don’t work that way. I suppose showing a 4 hour deposition would be pretty boring. :)

  4. Portlaw
    September 22, 2015 at 7:12 am

    I also don’t watch TV so thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    Isn’t it amazing how one sentence can say it all, can sum up hundreds of years of history and millions of lives ….

    The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity.

    Brava!

  5. September 25, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I didn’t see this until the excerpt on GMA the next morning—can’t stand awards shows. But Viola Davis’ speech is special.

    Glad she mentioned the writers. If writers write books from which films will be made or TV series produced, there will be more opportunity for black women. As a writer, I’m making a conscious effort to put women of color in my stories. For years I felt too intimidated to do this. After all, how authentic would my fiction be if I’m not a woman of color myself? However, I am human, and female, and a Witch, so to some extent I know what it means to be on the outside looking in . I trust research and imagination to help me with the rest.

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