Peacock’s The Sit In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show, executive produced by MSNBC host Joy Reid and director Yoruba Richen invites you all to the slice of history that must not be forgotten.
The documentary chronicles the infamous and pivotal week in American history in which legendary entertainer and civil rights activist, Harry Belafonte hosted the iconic “Tonight Show” in place of Johnny Carson. Viewers will get insight into the history-making week in February of 1968 where a Black man was given the opportunity to host the widely popular show for the first time ever.
With the country in civil unrest due to riots nationwide and the Vietnam War still underway, Belafonte gathered some of the most profound guests to sit back and chat with. Icons such as Aretha Franklin, Sidney Poitier, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy all shared the stage with Belafonte as he discussed current issues, political unrest, and pop culture. “One of the things that Harry Belafonte accomplished during this week was number one, he integrated late night because the late-night space is so so White,” explains Reid. No one had ever seen a Black man in that space which is arguably one of the most powerful and influential positions to be in as a host, especially during that time.
Belafonte appears in the film along with several familiar faces including DJ Questlove and Whoopi Goldberg. Although most of the footage from that week was lost, director Susanne Rostock previously directed a documentary on Belafonte in 2011 and was able to help provide more information and home movies that helped the team navigate the archival world. “What we began to realize is yes, it’s about this week but also about how Harry [Belafonte] saw the world in 1968; his relationships with these people who are very prominent in the world and during this divisive time of 1968 where everything was exploding,” shares Richen.
The Sit In will premiere on September 10 on NBC Universal’s new streaming platform, Peacock. Be sure to check it out! Get deeper insight to the making of this important documentary as The Knockturnal has an exclusive interview with director Yoruba Richen and producers Joy Reid and Joan Walsh.