Eyes on the Prize
|Eyes on the Prize|
|Also known as||Eyes on the Prize I
Eyes on the Prize II
|Based on||Civil Rights Movement|
|Narrated by||Julian Bond|
|Opening theme||Keep Your Eyes on the Prize|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||14|
|Executive producer(s)||Henry Hampton|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original network||Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)|
|Original release||January 21, 1987– March 5, 1990|
Eyes on the Prize is an American television series and 14-hour 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 Blackside, Inc., the series uses archival footage 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 over two seasons. The first season, Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954–1964, chronicles the time period between the United States Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965. The first season consists of six episodes, which premiered on January 21, 1987 and concluded on February 25, 1987. The second season, Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965–1985, consists of eight episodes, which aired on January 15, 1990 and ended on March 5, 1990.
Since its debut, the series has been lauded for its depiction of the Civil Rights Movement. The documentary is used extensively in primary and secondary schools, as well as, other educational settings as a way to convey the experiences and struggle for civil rights in the United States.
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.
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 after passage of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protected voting by African Americans. 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 1954-1965
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||1||"Awakenings (1954–1956)"||Judith Vecchione||Steve Fayer||January 21, 1987|
|Chronicles the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama.|
|2||2||"Fighting Back (1957–1962)"||Judith Vecchione||Steve Fayer||January 28, 1987|
|Chronicles the school desegregation efforts at Central High School by the Little Rock Nine in Arkansas and by James Meredith at the University of Mississippi.|
|3||3||"Ain't Scared of Your Jails (1960–1961)"||Orlando Bagwell||Steve Fayer||February 4, 1987|
|The film 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 throughout southern states.|
|4||4||"No Easy Walk (1961–1963)"||Callie Crossley & James A. DeVinney||Callie Crossley, James A. DeVinney, & Steve Fayer||February 11, 1987|
|The documentary 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. The film also covers the March on Washington, one of the largest political rallies for civil rights in United States.|
|5||5||"Mississippi: Is This America? (1963–1964)"||Orlando Bagwell||Steve Fayer||February 18, 1987|
|Chronicles the murders of Medgar Evers, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner in Mississippi. The film also covers the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party attendance at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City during the US presidential election of 1964.|
|6||6||"Bridge to Freedom (1965)"||Callie Crossley & James A. DeVinney||Callie Crossley, James A. DeVinney, & Steve Fayer||February 25, 1987|
|The film examines efforts to restore voting rights in Selma, Alabama during the Selma to Montgomery marches.|
Eyes on the Prize: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965-1985
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|7||1||"The Time Has Come (1964–66)"||James A. DeVinney & Madison D. Lacy||James A. DeVinney & Madison D. Lacy||January 15, 1990|
|8||2||"Two Societies (1965–68)"||Sheila Curran Bernard & Samuel D. Pollard||Sheila Curran Bernard, Steve Fayer, & Samuel D. Pollard||January 22, 1990|
|9||3||"Power! (1966–68)"||Louis J. Massiah & Terry Kay Rockefeller||Steve Fayer, Louis J. Massiah, & Terry Kay Rockefeller||January 29, 1990|
|10||4||"The Promised Land (1967–68)"||Jacqueline Shearer & Paul Stekler||Steve Fayer, Jacqueline Shearer, & Paul Stekler||February 5, 1990|
|11||5||"Ain't Gonna Shuffle No More (1964–72)"||Sheila Curran Bernard & Samuel D. Pollard||Sheila Curran Bernard, Steve Fayer, & Samuel D. Pollard||February 15, 1990|
|12||6||"A Nation of Law? (1968–71)"||Louis J. Massiah, Thomas Ott, & Terry Kay Rockefeller||Steve Fayer, Louis J. Massiah, Thomas Ott, & Terry Kay Rockefeller||February 19, 1990|
|13||7||"The Keys to the Kingdom (1974–80)"||Jacqueline Shearer & Paul Stekler||Steve Fayer, Jacqueline Shearer, & Paul Stekler||February 26, 1990|
|14||8||"Back to the Movement (1979–mid 80s)"||James A. DeVinney & Madison D. Lacy||James A. DeVinney, Steve Fayer, & Madison D. Lacy||March 5, 1990|
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). 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. However, it is a product of its time and as such its facts are not always current; for example, it states that nobody was ever convicted of the murder of Medgar Evers, which was true at that time. But Byron De La Beckwith was convicted of that murder on February 5, 1994, after having lived as a free man for much of the three decades following the killing (he was imprisoned from 1977 to 1980 for conspiring to murder A. I. Botnick). De La Beckwith appealed unsuccessfully, and died at age 80 in prison in January 2001.
- 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
- Bond v. Floyd (385 U.S. 116).
- "IMDb: Eyes on the Prize". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
- 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: