ByCourtney Thomas, writer at

At Sunday''s Emmy Awards ceremony, Viola Davis was poised and elegant as she made television history. She was the first black woman to relieve an Emmy for best actress in a lead role. If that is unbelievable to you -as it is to me- then we have one thing in common with Viola herself.

She began her speech by quoting Harriet Tubman

In my mind I see a line, and over that line I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women wits 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.

The rest of her speech was no less inspiring. And we saw the other women nominated cheering her on, two of whom were Taraji P Henson and Cicely Tyson. Viola Davis knew that she was making history, and she made sure we, as an audience, knew it as well.

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

In fact, since 1981, only four other black women have been nominated in this category. Why? Viola Davis said it herself, opportunity. Roles for black women in television are few and far between. And out of dozens of network television shows coming out this fall, I know of only one with a black lead actress (I welcome you all to correct me if I'm wrong).

Where are the women of color on major networks? They're in supporting or minor roles. We've come a long way since Star Trek featured the first interracial kiss on television, but the fact that this is the first time a black woman has won in this category says a lot about Hollywood.

Directors, producers, and casting directors should be working to make the art we see in our living rooms and in theaters match what we see in real life. Real life is diverse, America is rightfully called a melting pot; so why is television still so monochromatic?


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