Kevin Hart shines a light upon the unsung black heroes of American history in his new Netflix special. In a change of pace from his usual content, “Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History” is geared toward educating a younger audience.
The one-hour special features Hart teaching his daughter (played by Saniyya Sidney) about the black heroes who made enormous strides in science, civil rights, sports, entertainment and armed services in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Other stars such as Tiffany Haddish, Greg Germann, Lil Rel Howery and Barry Brewer make appearances in sketches that portray the lives of each historical figure. The sketches, which feature Hart as a narrator, provide lighthearted representations of significant historical events and people.
Underneath the playful nature of the sketches, though, is a salient theme of hard work, courage and perseverance. Hart explains to his daughter, “Black history is more than slavery and oppression. Goodness, you have the innovation, the brilliance, the creativity … these were the things that we used to challenge the oppression.”
Josephine Baker was among the crowd of black achievers who had their stories told throughout the special. Baker, who first gained popularity through being an American performer, moved to France and became an Allied spy during World War II. For her work during the war she received the Croix de Guerre and the Rosette de la Résistance, both highly coveted French military decorations. She later moved back to the United States and became a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement. After mentioning that she adopted 12 children from around the world, Hart comments that she was “Angelina Jolie before Angelina Jolie.”
Robert Smalls was another unsung black hero mentioned during the special. Smalls escaped slavery by piloting a Confederate transport ship through Charleston Harbor and into a nearby Union Army blockade. Not only did this allow Smalls to escape slavery, but it also helped free his crew and their families that day as well. The 23-year-old was able to offer crucial information about the Confederate naval position which allowed the Union Army to earn a decisive victory over Coles Island on Charleston’s southern flank. Small’s incredible bravery persuaded Abraham Lincoln to allow African American soldiers to fight for the Union.
A few of the other exceptional stories mentioned in the special were blues legend Robert Johnson, who pioneered the guitar technique that shaped the world of rock and roll, Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to earn a pilot license, and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel to space.
Hart brilliantly mixes slapstick humor with serious historical storylines in this educational Netflix special. Not only is the audience learning valuable information about the unsung black heroes of American history but they are also being entertained throughout. While Hart was able to stick to his brand of being a jokester, he was also able to convey a meaningful message about black history to his intended audience.
Matt Souvigney is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.