At the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, Tyler Perry spoke about recognizing the value of diverse experiences. He graciously accepted the Governor’s Award on behalf of himself and The Perry Foundation. Oprah Winfrey and Chris Rock presented the award to him as they highlighted his accomplishments in television. They also spoke about how his foundation brings diversity to the forefront. Further, as he accepted the award, Perry went on to share an emotional story.
Grandmother’s handmade quilt
In his acceptance speech, Tyler Perry included the story of his grandmother’s quilt. He mentioned that when he was 19 years old, his grandmother made him a quilt. At the time, he was embarrassed about it and hence, dismissed it. However, years later, he walked into a fancy antique store as he could afford it then. He was surprised to see a similar looking quilt in that store. On inquiry, he learned that an African American woman had made that quilt. She used to be a slave. Each patch on the quilt represented one aspect of the woman’s life. Perry admitted to feeling ashamed of having dismissed his grandmother’s quilt. He continued,
I dismissed her work and her story because it didn’t look like what I thought it should. Now whether we know it or not, we are all sewing our own quilts with our thoughts, our behaviors, our experiences, and our memories.
The quilts of our lives
Additionally, he spoke about his experiences growing up with his mother. He recalled that she had asked him not to rely on a white person for anything. He also explained how his mother could have never imagined his accomplishments to date. Perry further said,
I stand here tonight to say thank you, to all of the people who are celebrating and know the value of every patch and every story, and every color that makes up this quilt that is our business, this quilt that is our lives, this quilt that is America.
Later, he mentioned that there were no patches in his grandmother’s quilt that represented Black people on television. But, in his quilt, the Television Academy was celebrating her grandson’s work and success.
Perry’s non-profit foundation has contributed to the aid for the victims of Haiti’s 2010 earthquakes, Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria and Texas’ Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and Hurricane Dorian, which devastated The Bahamas in 2019.