Jimmy Fallon's return from hiatus proved to be an emotional episode of The Tonight Show, as the host addressed the ongoing protests against racial injustice and his own recent controversy. Fallon spoke with CNN's Don Lemon as part of Monday's special episode, and the newsman commended Fallon for addressing and owning up to his past mistakes.
"That's exactly what we all need to do is examine ourselves," Lemon said. "That was really honest and very brave of you and I appreciate you having the depth really to do what you did in that opening monologue."
Fallon began Tuesday's Tonight Show without its usual introduction and fanfare or joke set. Instead, he delivered a message from the heart, his voice frequently cracking with emotion and his hands nervously moving on his kitchen table.
"I had to really examine myself this week because a story came out about me on SNL doing an impression of Chris Rock, in black face, and I was horrified," Fallon shared. "Not of the fact that people were trying to cancel me or cancel the show… but the thing that haunts me the most was how do I say, 'I love this person. I respect this guy more than I respect most humans. I'm not a racist don't feel this way.' And instead what I kept getting advised was to just stay quiet and not say anything."
"That's the advice because we're all afraid. And I took it for a minute, I took the advice. I said, 'I'm going to do this wrong. You're right, I'm going to say something and get myself into more trouble. I'm going to make this worse. I don't know what to do,'" Fallon explained. "So I thought about it and I realized that I cannot not say I'm horrified and I'm sorry and I'm embarrassed. And what that small gesture did for me was break my own silence."
Fallon went on to say he realized "that the silence is the biggest crime that white guys like me and the rest of us are doing. We're staying silent."
To break this silence, and examine the ongoing protests and civil unrest boiling over in cities across the nation, Fallon spoke with a number of different figures, including Lemon, who has been active in covering the protests and the extrajudicial killings that they resulted from.