Diahann Carroll, the first African-American Emmy nominee in 1963 for "Naked City," created one of the night's most heartfelt moments when she took the stage with Washington and noted the importance of diversity in the industry and Emmys.
"Tonight, she better get this award," Carroll said of Washington, who covered her eyes in embarrassment.
Washington stars in "Scandal," and was nominated in the lead actress category in a drama.
Washington eventually lost out on the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama award to Claire Danes in "Homeland."
Carroll was the first black actress to star in her own show who didn't play a domestic worker. Her role as a nurse in "Julia" earned her an Emmy nomination in1969.
"I feel we're a little behind, we need to catch up," Carroll said Sunday on the Emmy red carpet.
"We're all very grateful to the Emmys because they've been on our side," Carroll said, referring to the show's recognition of African-Americans. "At the same time, we'd like it to be a little more with what's going on in the world."