Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years: 1954-1965

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by Henry Hampton

PBS

1987, 1st half of 14 hour series, DVD set

SKU: 0841887011099

 

Eyes on the Prize is an award-winning 14-hour television series produced by Blackside and narrated by Julian Bond. Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, the series covers all of the major events of the civil rights movement from 1954-1985.

Series topics range from the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954 to the Voting Rights Act in 1965; from community power in schools to "Black Power" in the streets; from early acts of individual courage through to the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions.

When Eyes on the Prize premiered in 1987, The Los Angeles Times called it "an exhaustive documentary that shouldn't be missed." The series went on to win six Emmys and numerous other awards, including an Academy Award nomination, the George Foster Peabody Award, and the top duPont-Columbia award for excellence in broadcast journalism.

Eyes on the Prize was created and executive produced by Henry Hampton (1940-1998), one of the most influential documentary filmmakers in the 20th century. His work chronicled America's great political and social movements and set new standards for broadcast quality. Blackside, the independent film and television company he founded in 1968, completed 60 major films and media projects that amplified the voices of the poor and disenfranchised. His enduring legacy continues to influence the field in the 21st century.

 

Programs in the series on this collection:

Awakenings (1954-1956)

Individual acts of courage inspire black Southerners to fight for their rights: Mose Wright testifies against the white men who murdered young Emmett Till, and Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.

Fighting Back (1957-1962)

States' rights loyalists and federal authorities collide in the 1957 battle to integrate Little Rock's Central High School, and again in James Meredith's 1962 challenge to segregation at the University of Mississippi. Both times, a Southern governor squares off with a U.S. president, violence erupts -- and integration is carried out.

Ain't Scared of Your Jails (1960-1961)

Black college students take a leadership role in the civil rights movement as lunch counter sit-ins spread across the South. "Freedom Riders" also try to desegregate interstate buses, but they are brutally attacked as they travel.

No Easy Walk (1961-1963)

The civil rights movement discovers the power of mass demonstrations as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. emerges as its most visible leader. Some demonstrations succeed; others fail. But the triumphant March on Washington, D.C., under King's leadership, shows a mounting national support for civil rights. President John F. Kennedy proposes the Civil Rights Act.

Mississippi: Is This America? (1963-1964)

Mississippi's grass-roots civil rights movement becomes an American concern when college students travel south to help register black voters and three activists are murdered. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party challenges the regular Mississippi delegation at the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City.

Bridge to Freedom (1965)

A decade of lessons is applied in the climactic and bloody march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. A major victory is won when the federal Voting Rights Bill passes, but civil rights leaders know they have new challenges ahead.