Eyes on the Prize
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Eyes on the Prize is a 14-hour documentary series about the African-American Civil Rights Movement. The series was produced in two stages: Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954–1964 consists of the first six episodes covering the time period between the Brown v. Board decision and the Selma to Montgomery marches. It was broadcast in 1987 on PBS. The remaining 8 episodes make up Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965–1985, which was broadcast on PBS in 1990. The series was also shown in the United Kingdom on BBC2.
Created and executive-produced by Henry Hampton at Blackside, Inc., the series uses primary sources (such as archival footage and interviews with persons involved in the mentioned events) to record the growth of the civil rights movement in the United States, with special focus on the ordinary people who effected the change. It has been lauded for its depiction of the Civil Rights Movement, and used extensively in schools and other educational settings as a way to convey the experiences and struggle for civil rights in America.
The title of the series is derived from the song "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize", which is used in each episode as the opening theme music.
Original broadcast and home video releases
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).
It was quickly released to home video (in VHS and Laserdisc). By the mid-1990s, both rebroadcasts and home video production were halted for several years due to limits on the licenses of the copyrights of the archive footage used, and increasingly higher rates imposed by the copyright holders. Grants from the Ford Foundation and others enabled Blackside to renew rights. To date, PBS has rebroadcast the first six hours on three consecutive Mondays in October 2006, and rebroadcast the second eight hours in February 2008.
PBS reissued an educational version of the series in the fall of 2006, making it available on DVD for the first time. It is now available to educational institutions and libraries from PBS on seven DVDs (ISBN 0-7936-9262-8) or seven VHS tapes. A consumer version of part one (1954–1965) was released in March 2010. It is unclear whether any footage has been changed to appease rightsholders.
The book of the same title 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. (hardcover ISBN 0-670-81412-1, paperback ISBN 0-245-54668-5); it was published by Viking in 1987.
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.
Episodes and content
Each episode of the series is narrated by Julian Bond. A founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Bond emerged as a notable figure in the Civil Rights Movement in 1965 when he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. The House refused to seat him because he publicly endorsed SNCC's opposition to US involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1966, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled that the Georgia House of Representatives had denied Bond his freedom of speech and was required to seat him.
Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years
1 – "Awakenings" (1954–1956)
2 – "Fighting Back" (1957–1962)
3 – "Ain't Scared of Your Jails" (1960–1961)
4 – "No Easy Walk" (1961–1963)
5 – "Mississippi: Is This America?" (1962–1964)
6 – "Bridge to Freedom" (1965)
Eyes on the Prize: America at the Racial Crossroads
1 – "The Time Has Come" (1964–1966)
2 – "Two Societies" (1965–1968)
3 – "Power!" (1967–1968)
4 – "The Promised Land" (1967–1968)
5 – "Ain't Gonna Shuffle No More" (1964–1972)
6 – "A Nation of Law?" (1968–1971)
7 – "The Keys to the Kingdom" (1974–1980)
8 – "Back to the Movement" (1979–1983)
- 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.
- Katie Dean, "Cash Rescues Eyes on the Prize", Wired.com, 08-30-2005. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- A Special Presentation of American Experience: Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement, 1954–1985, PBS.org. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- PBS News: PBS Celebrates Black History Month with an Extensive Lineup of Special Programming, PBS.org. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- PBS Education - Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement DVD 7PK - AV Item
- "IMDb: Eyes on the Prize". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
- Bond v. Floyd (385 U.S. 116).
- PBS/WGBH Eyes on the Prize Series
- Teacher study guide
- PBS Lesson Plans
- Eyes on the Prize Interview Transcripts, Washington University Library
- Eyes on the Prize I - Henry Hampton Collection, Washington University's Film and Media Archive
- Eyes on the Prize II - Henry Hampton Collection, Washington University's Film and Media Archive
- Eyes On the Prize at the Internet Movie Database
- Eyes On the Prize II at the Internet Movie Database
- Lyrics and discussion of the song "Eyes on the Prize", 2006 Bruce Springsteen recording
- Regarding the copyright controversies: