2019 Emmy Award winners stand up for equality

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Some of Sunday’s Emmy Award winners used their time in the spotlight to highlight social issues. While accepting their awards during the 71st annual show, actresses Patricia Arquette and Michelle Williams discussed transgender rights and pay parity for women of color. 

Upon accepting the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, Arquette became emotional as she talked about the difficulties the trans community faces. Her sister, Alexis Arquette, died in 2016. The late actress was transgender and documented her transition in a 2007 documentary called “Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother.” 

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“… But in my heart I’m so sad. I lost my sister Alexis and trans people are still being persecuted,” Arquette said during her acceptance speech. “I’m in mourning every day of my life, Alexis, and I will be the rest of my life for you, until we change the world so that trans people are not persecuted. Give them jobs. They’re human beings; let’s give them jobs.” 

Arquette received a standing ovation from Laverne Cox, who clapped while holding a rainbow-colored clutch with the words “Oct. 8,” “Title VII,” and “Supreme Court” on its front and the transgender flag on its back. The clutch is meant to raise awareness of an upcoming Supreme Court hearing on October 8 about Title VII.

The section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.” The Supreme Court will seek to determine whether Title VII protects workers from anti-LGBTQ discrimniation.

During her acceptance speech for winning Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her role in “Fosse/Verdon,” Michelle Williams said FX and Fox 21 Studios’ “complete support and equal pay” proved invaluable to not just her success but the success of so many other women. 

“And so the next time a woman, and especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollars, compared to her white male counterpart, tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her,” she said. “Because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it.”  

While a less subtle gesture, Ava DuVernay, writer and director of Netflix’s “When They See Us,” walked down the purple carpet with the “Exonerated Five” — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise. The men were wrongfully convicted of a rape that took place in Central Park in 1989.

DuVernay’s portrayal of their story in her Netflix series was nominated for Outstanding Limited Series at the Emmy’s. Actor Jharrel Jerome, who won the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or a movie for his portrayal of Wise in “When They See Us,” dedicated his victory to the “Exonerated Five.”

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