We still have chills from Viola Davis’ historic Emmys speech

Last night’s 67th Annual Emmy Awards were pretty wild, with host Andy Samberg bringing his extra-quirky brand of humor to the suit-and-tie affair while Jon Hamm and Amy Schumer earned their first wins and Game of Thrones took home a record 12 awards.

But without a doubt, the highlight of the evening was a win for How To Get Away With Murder star Viola Davis, who became the first black woman in Emmy history to win the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Bedecked in a gorgeous black and white floor length gown, the actress dedicated the first part of her acceptance speech to one of the 19th century’s most prominent abolitionists and humanitarians.

“‘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,’” Davis said. “That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s.”

And in a crowded field of white lead actress nominees, which included Claire Danes (Homeland), Robin Wright (House of Cards), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), and Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Davis reminded the audience that there was only one difference between black actresses and the white women they were competing with.

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” she said. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

Still change may be on the horizon. Davis was joined by Orange Is The New Black’s Uzo Aduba, who received her second Emmy, and American Crime star Regina King, who won the first Emmy of her career. Closing out her speech, the actress thanked execs at ABC as well as HTGAWM showrunners Peter Nowalk and Shonda Rhimes for “redefin[ing] what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”

From there, she gave a shout out to the many black actresses making a difference, including Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good, Halle Berry, and fellow Lead Actress nominee Taraji P. Henson of Empire fame.

“Thank you for taking us over that line,” Davis concluded. “Thank you.”

Watch her whole speech here and prepare to be moved:

(Image via Fox/Youtube)


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