People who criticize current late-night shows for being too political often point to Johnny Carson saying on 60 Minutes in 1979 that it's a "real danger" for a late-night host to have "that self-important feeling that what you say has great import. And you know, strangely enough, you could use that show as a forum. You could sway people, and I don’t think you should as an entertainer.” As Hank Stuever notes, "that response is often used as an attempted mic-drop on the current late-night landscape, with hosts and their high-profile guests relentlessly hammering away at the Trump administration’s foibles. But it neglects an overlooked and even vital part of the Tonight Show’s long history — a remarkable week in February 1968 when Carson, sensing a national mood of swelling anger and division over race, the Vietnam War and everything else, turned his show over for five nights to guest host Harry Belafonte. As recounted in director Yoruba Richen’s revelatory documentary The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show (available Thursday on NBC’s Peacock streaming service), Carson wanted to open his viewers’ eyes and ears to what was happening around them and also had the prescience to know he wasn’t the host for the job. Belafonte — a superstar singer, actor and civil rights activist — took the opportunity to bring on an extraordinary range of Black artists and newsmakers and their White allies, from Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. The guest list for that week, from Feb. 5 to 9, goes on: Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Nipsey Russell, Bill Cosby, Indigenous folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie, ventriloquist Aaron Williams and singer Freda Payne, among others." The documentary includes interviews with the Belafonte, now 93, and Whoopi Goldberg, who calls that week a necessary wake-up call. “We’re here, we’re Americans — we’re part of this, we’re not going anywhere,” she says. The Sit-In also counts MSNBC's Joy Reid as a co-producer. Unfortunately, The Sit-In has only limited footage of that week since NBC technicians at the time saved tape by taping over episodes. "It’s a profound loss for television historians, and makes it difficult to express the scope of performances and conversations contained in each episode," says Stuever. "Richen makes excellent use of what remains." ALSO: While it's true Harry Belafonte was the first Black entertainer to fill in for Johnny Carson for a full week, The Sit-In doesn't mention that Sammy Davis Jr. guest-hosted for four nights a year earlier.