on the Prize, a critically acclaimed 14-part series on the dealing
with the American Civil Rights Movement, was broadcast nationally
by the Public Broadcasting Service. The first six programs, Eyes
on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years (1954-1965) was aired
in January and February of 1987. The eight-part sequel, Eyes
on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads (1965-1985)
was broadcast in 1990.
over the course of twelve years by Blackside, Inc., one of the oldest
minority-owned film and television production companies in the country,
the series received over 23 awards, including two Emmys (for Outstanding
Documentary and Outstanding Achievement in Writing), the duPont
Columbia Award, the Edward R. Murrow Brotherhood Award for Best
National Documentary, the International Documentary Association's
Distinguished documentary Award, Program of the Year and Outstanding
News Information Program by the Television Critics Association,
and the CINE Golden Eagle.
addition to its positive receptions from television critics and
professionals, Eyes on the Prize was also lauded by historians
an educators. Using archival footage and contemporary interviews
with participants in the struggle for and against Civil Rights,
the series presented the movement as multi-faceted. Watched by over
20 million viewers with each airing, it served as an important educational
tool, reaching a generation of millions of Americans who have no
direct experience with the historic events chronicled. Though the
series included such landmark events as the Montgomery, Alabama
Bus Boycott of 1955-56, the 1963 March on Washington, and the assassination
of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, it also documented the workings
of the movement on a grass-roots level, presenting events and individuals
on the Prize I, narrated by Julian Bond, was launched by the
episode entitled "Awakenings." It documents two events that helped
focus the nation's attention on the oppression of African American
citizens: the lynching of 14 year-old Emmett Till in 1955 and the
Montgomery Bus Boycott, motivated by the arrest of Rosa Parks, who
refused to relinquish her seat on a public bus to a white person.
Parts two through six covered such topics as the key court case,
Brown v. the Board of Education, the nationwide expansion
of the movement, James Meredith's enrollment at the University of
Mississippi, the Freedom Rides, and the passage of the Voting Rights
the critical and popular success of the first six episodes, executive
producer Henry Hampton had a difficult time raising the six million
dollars needed to fund the sequel. The reticence of both corporate
and public granting organizations is attributed to the subject matter
of Eyes II, issues which the United States has not yet resolved:
the rise of the Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam, the Black
Consciousness Movement, the Vietnam War, busing, and Affirmative
Barol, Bill. "A Struggle for the Prize: Documenting the Last 20
Years of Civil Rights." Newsweek (New York), 22 August 1988.
on Henry Hampton." The New Yorker, 23 January 1995.
Lewis J. "A Journey to Another time and, to Many, Another World."
U.S. News and World Report (Washington, D.C.), 9 March 1987.
Danny. "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round: Use and Misuse of
the Southern Civil Rights Movement." Aperture (New York),