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Eyes on the Prize

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eyes on the Prize
Also known asEyes on the Prize I
Eyes on the Prize II
GenreDocumentary film
Based onCivil Rights Movement
Directed byOrlando Bagwell
Sheila Curran Bernard
Callie Crossley
James A. DeVinney
Madison D. Lacy
Louis Massiah
Thomas Ott
Samuel D. Pollard
Terry Kay Rockefeller
Jacqueline Shearer
Paul Stekler
Judith Vecchione
Narrated byJulian Bond
Opening theme"Keep Your Eyes on the Prize"
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes14
Executive producer(s)Henry Hampton
Production location(s)United States
Editor(s)Lillian Benson
Betty Ciccarelli
Daniel Eisenberg
Jeanne Jordan
Thomas Ott
Charles Scott
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Blackside
Original networkPBS
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Original releaseJanuary 21, 1987 (1987-01-21) –
March 5, 1990 (1990-03-05)
External links

Eyes on the Prize is an American television series and 14-part documentary about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The documentary originally aired on the PBS network and also aired in the United Kingdom on BBC2. Created and executive produced by Henry Hampton at the film production company Blackside and narrated by Julian Bond, the series uses archival footage, stills and interviews of participants and opponents of the movement. The title of the series is derived from the folk song "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize," which is used in each episode as the opening theme music.

A total of 14 episodes of Eyes on the Prize were produced in two separate parts. The first part, Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954–1965, chronicles the time period between the United States Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965. It consists of six episodes, which premiered on January 21, 1987 and concluded on February 25, 1987. The second part, Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965–1985, chronicles the time period between the national emergence of Malcolm X during 1964 to the 1983 election of Harold Washington as the first African-American mayor of Chicago. It consists of eight episodes, which aired on January 15, 1990 and ended on March 5, 1990, and was made widely available to educators on VHS tape. All 14 hours were re-released on DVD in 2006 by PBS.


The film originated as two sequential projects. Part one, six hours long, was shown on PBS in early 1987 as Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954–1965. Eight more hours were broadcast in 1990 as Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965–1985.

In 1992, the documentary was released on home video. By the mid-1990s, both rebroadcasts and home video distribution were halted for several years due to expiration of rights and licenses of copyrighted archive footage, photographs and music used in the series and increasingly higher rates imposed by the copyright holders.[1] Grants from the Ford Foundation and Gilder Foundation enabled Blackside and the rights clearance team to renew rights.[2] While the return of Eyes on the Prize to public television and the educational market involved the contributions of many dedicated people, four individuals in particular were responsible for the long and complicated undertaking of rights renewals and the re-release of the series: Sandra Forman, Legal Counsel and Project Director; Cynthia Meagher Kuhn, Archivist and Rights Coordinator; Rena Kosersky, Music Supervisor; and Judi Hampton, President of Blackside and sister of Henry Hampton. None of the archival material in the fourteen hour documentary was removed or altered in any way. PBS rebroadcast the first six hours on American Experience on three consecutive Mondays in October 2006,[3] and rebroadcast the second eight hours in February 2008.[4] After a gap of almost eight years, Eyes on the Prize was rebroadcast on World Channel on fourteen consecutive Sundays beginning on January 17, 2016.

PBS reissued an educational version of the series in the fall of 2006, making it available on DVD for the first time.[5] It is now available to educational institutions and libraries from PBS on seven DVDs or seven VHS tapes. A consumer version of part one (1954–1965) was released in March 2010.[6]

The licensing issues from 1993 to 2006 generated what was called Eyes on the Screen, an effort to disseminate the series by file sharing networks without regard to copyright restrictions.


America's Civil Rights Years 1954–1965

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Awakenings (1954–1956)"Judith VecchioneSteve FayerJanuary 21, 1987 (1987-01-21)
Chronicles the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi and the Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama.
22"Fighting Back (1957–1962)"Judith VecchioneSteve FayerJanuary 28, 1987 (1987-01-28)
Chronicles the school desegregation crises at Central High School by the Little Rock Nine in Arkansas and by James Meredith at the University of Mississippi during the Ole Miss riot of 1962.
33"Ain't Scared of Your Jails (1960–1961)"Orlando BagwellSteve FayerFebruary 4, 1987 (1987-02-04)
Covers the Nashville sit-ins and boycotts that sought to end racial segregation at lunch counters in Tennessee and the Freedom Riders efforts to end segregation on interstate transportation and terminals throughout the southern United States.
44"No Easy Walk (1961–1963)"Callie Crossley & James A. DeVinneyCallie Crossley, James A. DeVinney, & Steve FayerFebruary 11, 1987 (1987-02-11)
Examines the failed attempt by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Albany, Georgia to end segregation and the subsequent lessons learned to win a major victory in Birmingham, Alabama during the Birmingham campaign. The film also covers the March on Washington, one of the largest political rallies for civil rights in United States.
55"Mississippi: Is This America? (1963–1964)"Orlando BagwellSteve FayerFebruary 18, 1987 (1987-02-18)
Chronicles the murder of Medgar Evers in 1963 and the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in 1964 in Mississippi. The film also covers the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) attendance at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City during the United States presidential election of 1964.
66"Bridge to Freedom (1965)"Callie Crossley & James A. DeVinneyCallie Crossley, James A. DeVinney, & Steve FayerFebruary 25, 1987 (1987-02-25)
Examines the effort to restore voting rights in Selma, Alabama during the Selma to Montgomery marches.

America at the Racial Crossroads 1965–1985

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
71"The Time Has Come (1964–66)"James A. DeVinney & Madison D. LacyJames A. DeVinney & Madison D. LacyJanuary 15, 1990 (1990-01-15)
Examines a lead member of the Nation of Islam - Malcolm X. The film also chronicles the political organizing work of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) in Alabama and the shooting of James Meredith during the March Against Fear.
82"Two Societies (1965–68)"Sheila Curran Bernard & Samuel D. PollardSheila Curran Bernard, Steve Fayer, & Samuel D. PollardJanuary 22, 1990 (1990-01-22)
Follows Martin Luther King Jr. during the Chicago Freedom Movement in Illinois and the tumultuous Detroit Riot of 1967 in Michigan.
93"Power! (1966–68)"Louis J. Massiah & Terry Kay RockefellerSteve Fayer, Louis J. Massiah, & Terry Kay RockefellerJanuary 29, 1990 (1990-01-29)
Chronicles the election of Carl Stokes as the mayor of Cleveland and the first African American to become mayor of a major U.S. city. The film also covers the formation of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and community control of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville school district in Brooklyn during the New York City teachers' strike of 1968.
104"The Promised Land (1967–68)"Jacqueline Shearer & Paul SteklerSteve Fayer, Jacqueline Shearer, & Paul SteklerFebruary 5, 1990 (1990-02-05)
Chronicles the final years of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life. It also covers the Poor People's Campaign and Resurrection City in Washington, D.C.
115"Ain't Gonna Shuffle No More (1964–72)"Sheila Curran Bernard & Samuel D. PollardSheila Curran Bernard, Steve Fayer, & Samuel D. PollardFebruary 15, 1990 (1990-02-15)
Chronicles the emergence of boxer Muhammad Ali, the student movement at Howard University, and the gathering of the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana.
126"A Nation of Law? (1968–71)"Louis J. Massiah, Thomas Ott, & Terry Kay RockefellerSteve Fayer, Louis J. Massiah, Thomas Ott, & Terry Kay RockefellerFebruary 19, 1990 (1990-02-19)
Chronicles the leadership and murder of Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party (BPP) in Chicago. The second part of the film covers the Attica Prison rebellion in Attica, New York.
137"The Keys to the Kingdom (1974–80)"Jacqueline Shearer & Paul SteklerSteve Fayer, Jacqueline Shearer, & Paul SteklerFebruary 26, 1990 (1990-02-26)
The documentary examines the Boston school desegregation crisis involving busing in Massachusetts. The second part of the film chronicles the election of Maynard Jackson as mayor of Atlanta and the first African American to become mayor of any major U.S. city in the southern United States. The last part of the film examines affirmative action and the landmark United States Supreme Court ruling Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978).
148"Back to the Movement (1979–mid 80s)"James A. DeVinney & Madison D. LacyJames A. DeVinney, Steve Fayer, & Madison D. LacyMarch 5, 1990 (1990-03-05)
Covers the Miami riot of 1980 and the election of Harold Washington as the first African-American mayor of Chicago. The film finishes with an overview of the Civil Rights Movement and its effect upon the United States and the world.


The book Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954–1965 was created as a companion volume to the series during post-production by the producers and publishing staff at Blackside, Inc. They were assisted by Juan Williams, a Washington Post journalist. First published by Viking Press in 1987, the book used a portion of the iconic photograph of the Selma to Montgomery march taken by Look magazine photographer James Karales on its cover.


The series has been hailed as more than just a historical document. Clayborne Carson, a Stanford University history professor and editor of the published papers of Martin Luther King Jr., said that "it is the principal film account of the most important American social justice movement of the 20th century". Because of its extensive use of primary sources and in-depth coverage of the material, it has been adopted as a key reference and record of the civil rights movement.


Both Eyes on the Prize and Eyes on the Prize II won Peabody Awards and Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Awards.[7][8][9]

Episode six, Bridge to Freedom, produced by Callie Crossley and James A. DeVinney, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1988 during the 60th Academy Awards.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Sheila Curran Bernard, "Eyes on the Rights - The Rising Cost of Putting History on Screen", Documentary Online Magazine, June 05 Issue, International Documentary Association. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
  2. ^ Katie Dean, "Cash Rescues Eyes on the Prize",, 08-30-2005. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  3. ^ A Special Presentation of American Experience: Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement, 1954–1985, Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  4. ^ PBS News: PBS Celebrates Black History Month with an Extensive Lineup of Special Programming, Retrieved 2008-02-21.
  5. ^ PBS Education - Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement DVD 7PK - AV Item
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years". Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  8. ^ "Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads (1965-1985)". Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  9. ^ "The Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards | School of Journalism". Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  10. ^ "IMDb: Eyes on the Prize". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-11-19.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 30 March 2019, at 02:31
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