How Many Black People Have Hosted the Oscars? Kevin Hart Would Have Only Been Sixth African American

Kevin Hart would have been latest African American to host the annual Academy Awards since Chris Rock manned the job in 2016. However, the comedian stepped down from the glamorous yet grueling position as host of the upcoming 91st Academy Awards following an outpour of backlash regarding homophobic comments he made on Twitter several years ago.

“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s,” Hart wrote in a Twitter post on early Friday morning. “This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”

Although the Night School actor issued an apology, it didn’t come until after the Academy gave him an ultimatum to apologize or be replaced. It is unclear who will host the 2019 Oscars now that Hart has relinquished the job.

The hosting gig would have marked more than just a major milestone in 39-year-old Hart’s career but a giant step forward for entertainers of color, who have long been overlooked to host (not to mention receive nominations) at the award show as well. Since the ceremony’s inception in 1927, only five African Americans have hosted the show. Hart would have been the fifth.

It’s worth noting the Academy has yet to enlist a host of Asian or Latino descent. 

Read on for a look at all the black people to host the Oscars in its 91 years of existence.

How Many Black People Have Hosted the Oscars? Actor and popular singer Sammy Davis Jr. photographed on July 18, 1974. Davis hosted the Oscars twice in 1972 and 1975. Michael Fresco/Evening Standard/Getty Images

Sammy Davis Jr.

It wasn’t until 1972—nearly 45 years since the Academy was born and 19 years after the ceremony was first televised in 1953—when the Oscars got its first black host. It wasn’t a solo job though. Hosting duties were split between Davis, Jack Lemmon, Helen Hayes and Alan King. The Academy enjoyed Davis’ performance enough to bring him back as host a second time alongside Bob Hope, Shirley MacLaine and Frank Sinatra in 1975.

How Many Black People Have Hosted the Oscars? Comedian Richard Pryor, a veteran of both stand-up and film comedy, photographed in this archive image from January 1, 1981. Pryor hosted the Oscars in 1977 and 1983. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Richard Pryor

Another two-time host, Pryor entertained Oscar audiences in 1977 and 1983. He shared the position on both occasions. His first hosting run was served alongside Ellen Burstyn, Jane Fonda and Warren Beatty while his second time as host was shared with Walter Matthau, Liza Minnelli and Dudley Moore.

How Many Black People Have Hosted the Oscars? Diana Ross accepts the Lifetime Achievement award onstage during the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. Ross hosted the Oscars in 1974. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Diana Ross

The singer and actor hosted the show alongside Burt Reynolds, John Huston, and David Niven in 1974.

How Many Black People Have Hosted the Oscars? Whoopi Goldberg attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California. Goldberg hosted the Oscars in 1994, 1996, 1999 and 2002. Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Whoopi Goldberg

The actor wasn’t just the first African American woman to host the show four times, but she was also the first African American and African American woman to host the show completely alone in 1994. She reprised her solo hosting duties again in 1996, 1999 and 2002, making her the African American to host the Oscars the most to date.

How Many Black People Have Hosted the Oscars? Chris Rock speaks onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016, in Hollywood, California. Rock hosted the Academy Awards in 2005 as well. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Chris Rock

The comedian and actor was brought in to host the 2005 Academy Awards and again in 2016 at the height of the Academy’s biggest diversity controversy. The 2016 Oscars marked the second year in a row when all 20 nominated actors were white, causing the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to go viral (again) during the nominations ceremony. Rock addressed the colorless categories during his opening monologue, calling the show the “White People’s Choice Awards.”

Correction: This article was updated to include Diana Ross.

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