The Sit-In Harry Belafonte | National Civil Rights Museum

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Friday, October 16 • 6:30pm Central
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THE SIT-IN: HARRY BELAFONTE HOSTS THE TONIGHT SHOW chronicles a remarkable moment during February 1968, when for one week, singer, actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte took over the desk as guest host of Johnny Carson’s iconic “Tonight Show.” It was the first time an African-American hosted a late night television show for an entire week.

Join director YORUBA RICHEN and producers JOAN WALSH and VALERIE THOMAS virtually as they discuss the film that was not only about a politically volatile time in U.S history, but also a journey through Belafonte’s incredible career and the political activism and enduring influence of several African Americans. Discover how relevant it is today in a time of political crisis, much like 1968.

“THE SIT-IN” tells this story through contemporary interviews with Belafonte, Whoopi Goldberg, Questlove and many others. The interviews with Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy are among their last television appearances before both were assassinated. It also unearths unknown audio and photos of this week and illuminates how the week changed television culture, opening it up to entertainers of color, and fusing art and politics in a singular way.

Yoruba Richen is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has directed films in the U.S. and abroad.  Her work has been featured on PBS, New York Times Op Doc, Frontline Digital, New York Magazine’s website The Cut, The Atlantic and Field of Vision.  Her last film, "The Green Book: Guide to Freedom" was broadcast on the Smithsonian Channel to record audiences and was awarded the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking.  Yoruba’s previous documentary, "The New Black" won multiple festival awards and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a GLAAD Media Award.

Joan Walsh is The Nation’s National Affairs Correspondent and a CNN political contributor. She is the author of What’s the Matter With White People? Finding Our Way in the Next America, which the Philadelphia Daily News called “one of the best books of 2012 “and even more relevant now.” Salon’s very first news editor, Walsh served as editor in chief for six years. She is a regular on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper, Out Front with Erin Burnett, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, and has appeared on many other national shows.

Valerie Thomas is a documentary filmmaker and writer. In 2019, Ms. Thomas wrote and produced the feature documentary Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles. The film was acquired by Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films and was released in theaters across the country in August 2019. In 2016, she wrote and produced the feature documentary Underfire; The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro, which premiered on HBO, and was nominated for an Emmy for Best Historical Documentary. In 2014, Ms. Thomas wrote the feature documentary Morgenthau, which aired on PBS.

Watch below an NBC-Los Angeles interview with director Yoruba Richen about this documentary featuring never-before-seen footage from this almost-forgotten moment in American history.


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