The Emmy Awards recognized Tyler Perry with the 2020 Governors Award not only for his professional achievements, but also for the doors he opened in the entertainment industry to people with color.
Oprah Winfrey and Chris Rock shared Perry's amazing achievements.
"He is a man of deep faith and a visionary," said Winfrey, adding that he is the recipient of the award because "he dreamed the impossible dream."
She pointed out that when Perry got upstairs, he gave blacks the opportunity to work in front of and behind the cameras.
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After Perry received his award, he talked about a quilt his grandmother had given him that he didn't appreciate at the time. He later learned the story behind a similar quilt made by a woman who was a former slave. Every piece of the ceiling was a reminder of their life's journey.
Today Perry said he has achieved successes his ancestors could not have imagined. Every person who works for him – the marginalized and underrated of any background – complements the quilt that takes them to higher heights to achieve what seemed impossible.
Here is the transcript below:
I would like to especially thank the television academy. To the Board of Governors, Kim Coleman, Ari Emanuel, Matt Johnson. To everyone at Tyler Perry Studios and to my foundation. That's great. I didn't expect to feel this way.
I left home and my grandmother when I was around 19 years old. She gave me a blanket that she made. And this quilt was something I didn't really care about. It had all these different colors and these different stains. And I was pretty embarrassed. I had no value in it at all. When the dog got wet, I used it to dry it off. When I had to change the oil on the car, I put it on the floor. I had no respect for this blanket.
Many years later, when I was walking past one of those fancy antique shops that I could finally shop in, I saw a ceiling in a window that looked exactly like the one it had given me. And when I was in the store and was wondering where this quilt is, a clerk came up to me and said, "Let me tell you about this quilt."
It was made by an African American woman who was a former slave. And every stain she put in the blanket was a part of her life. Part of it was from a dress she was wearing when she found out she was free. Another part was from her wedding dress when she jumped over the broom.
And when I heard this story I got so embarrassed. Here I was, a person proud to celebrate our heritage, our culture, and I didn't even see the value in my grandmother's blanket. I rejected her work and her story because she didn't look like I imagined. Now, whether we know it or not, we all sew our own quilts using our thoughts and behaviors, our experiences and our memories.
Like in my own blanket, one of my memories when I was around 10 years old, I remember my father standing by the door. And I wondered why he stood there for so long. He was frustrated and left. And I asked my mother what was going on. She said he worked all week waiting for the man to pay him and he never did. They needed the money at the time.
And I'll tell you that she was so frustrated that she turned to me and said, "Never stand by a door and wait for white people to do nothing for you." My mother wasn't a racist. But in her blanket she couldn't imagine a world in which her son wasn't waiting for someone at the door.
In her ceiling she couldn't imagine that I was actually building my own door and keeping that door open for thousands of people. In my mother's blanket, she couldn't imagine owning land that was once a Confederate army base where Confederate soldiers were planning and planning how to enslave blacks.
And now, in this very country, blacks, whites, gays, heterosexuals, lesbians, transgender people, ex-cheaters, Latin Americans and Asians are coming together and working. Everyone comes together to add patches to a quilt that is as diverse as possible, diversity at its best. I stand here tonight to thank everyone who is celebrating and knowing the value of every patch, story and color that makes up this quilt that is our business, this quilt that is our life. This quilt is America. Because there weren't any stains on my grandmother's blanket that black TV showed.
But her grandson from the television academy is celebrated in my blanket. I thank you for this. God bless you. Thank you.