Viola Davis kicked off her Emmy Awards acceptance speech with a powerful quote that dates back more than a century — one that, sadly, still has so much real-world relevance in 2015.
"In my dreams and visions, 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." Davis was paraphrasing something Harriet Tubman said in the 1800s, bringing it into a new light. "And let me tell you something," the Juilliard-educated actress added, "the only thing that separates women of color 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, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Megan Goods, the Gabrielle Unions: Thank you for taking us over that line." This isn't the first time that Davis has spoken openly and adamantly about racial inequity in Hollywood — and more generally, in America. Earlier this year, she said that she "had never seen a 49-year-old, dark-skinned woman who is not a size 2 be a sexualized role in TV, film, everywhere." Davis's win tonight represents one piece of that line being blown to smithereens. But even after a powerful moment like this one, it's clear that we still have a long way to go before racial inequity is truly behind us. Luckily, we have women like this one on the right side of the fight.