Public television’s WORLD Channel will present the complete Emmy-Award winning Eyes on the Prize I and II starting tonight, January 17, 2016. A 30-minute special feature, Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, will launch the encore presentation of this historic two-part series and explore its impressive relevance today.
Eyes on the Prize, created by Executive Producer Henry Hampton, is a critically-acclaimed and in-depth documentary series on civil rights in America. With the current national spotlight on issues of race and inequality—as well as the marking of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott—the time is right for this series about the nation’s civil rights history to be front and center as part of an essential dialogue.
America continues to struggle with the recurring crisis of race-related violence; Eyes on the Prize I and II can provide perspective for a new generation and be a touchstone for citizens who lived through the decades that the films depict. Journalist and writer Al Letson hosts new introductions to each episode.
“We are elated that this landmark series will once again be broadcast across the country, reaching millions of viewers—many of whom may never have seen the original airing. The series focuses on solutions to the conflicts that we face today. Eyes on the Prize shows leadership, grass roots organization and personal sacrifice as the recipe that can create lasting change. It is our hope the television programs together with our comprehensive outreach campaign will spark a national dialogue about this critical topic,” says Judi Hampton, president of Blackside, and sister of the late Henry Hampton (1940-1998).
The WORLD Channel presentation, made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation, includes Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, a new, original 30-minute special, which will lead into the premiere January 17 of Eyes on the Prize, setting the groundbreaking documentary series in the context of today. Narrated by music artist Aloe Blacc, Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now features Eyes on the Prize filmmakers, present-day activists, human rights leaders, and scholars. The special revisits key historical moments and explores commonalities with current national events.
“The WORLD Channel is honored to be presenting this signature series,” says Chris Hastings, Executive Producer of the WORLD Channel. “It’s a history that must be understood. With Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, we ask questions and draw comparisons about the struggle to achieve equality today. As conflicts and challenges continue, Eyes on the Prize remains essential viewing for all Americans.”
As part of the initiative, WGBH Education is developing a digital resource collection supporting Eyes on the Prize and civil rights themes in history and social studies curricula, to help the civil rights movement come alive for students today. This collection will be available on PBS LearningMedia in January.
Based at WGBH Boston, the national public media producer, WORLD Channel delivers the best of public television’s original documentary films and news to US audiences through local public television stations, including America ReFramed, AfroPop, POV and Local, USA. The special Eyes on the Prize presentation also will be made available to all public television stations for local broadcasts (check listings) after the WORLD premiere.
EYES ON THE PRIZE I and II
Almost three decades since its premiere, the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize I and II will return to PBS this January. Eyes on the Prize I will premiere on The WORLD Channel six consecutive Sundays – January 17, 24, 31 and February 7, 14, 21 at 9:00 p.m. (EST). Eyes on the Prize II will air eight consecutive Sundays—February 28, March 6, 13, 20, 27, and April 3, 10, 17 at 9:00 p.m. (EST).
Produced by Blackside, Eyes on the Prize tells the definitive story of the Civil Rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today. This multi-part Academy Award nominated documentary is the winner of numerous Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, an International Documentary Association Award, and a Television Critics Association Award.
Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, Eyes on the Prize I and II, traces the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycott to the Voting Rights Act; from early acts of individual courage through the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions. The late Julian Bond, political leader and civil rights activist, narrates. Descriptions of each episode follow below:
EYES ON THE PRIZE: THEN AND NOW
SUNDAY, JANUARY 17, 2016 at 7:30pm ET (repeat broadcasts through February)
Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now re-examines the groundbreaking series, Eyes on the Prize, from the filmmakers’ perspective, and the viewpoint of civil rights activists. Featuring interviews with Eyes filmmakers, thought leaders, current day activists, scholars, and civil rights leaders, this special will explore how far we’ve come, how far we have yet to go, the meaning and significance of the ongoing struggle, and the next steps towards equality.
EYES ON THE PRIZE I
All episodes air 8pm ET, with repeat 9pm ET of prior episode
SUNDAY, JANUARY 17, 2016
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
SUNDAY, JANUARY 24, 2016
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 US president, violence erupts—and integration is carried out.
Ain’t Scared of Your Jails 1960–1961
SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2016
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
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2016
The Civil Rights Movement discovers the power of mass demonstrations as the Reverend 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
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2016
Mississippi’s grass-roots Civil Rights Movement becomes an American concern when college students travel south to help register black voters and three of them are murdered. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party challenges the regular Mississippi delegation at the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City.
Bridge to Freedom 1965
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2016
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.
EYES ON THE PRIZE II
All episodes air 8pm ET, with repeat 9pm ET of prior episode
The Time Has Come 1964-1966
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2016
After a decade-long cry for justice, a new sound is heard in the civil rights movement: the insistent call for power. Malcolm X takes an eloquent nationalism to urban streets as a younger generation of black leaders listens. In the South, Stokely Carmichael and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) move from “Freedom Now!” to “BlackPower!” as the fabric of the traditional movement changes.
Two Societies 1965-1968
SUNDAY, MARCH 6, 2016
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) come north to help Chicago’s civil rights leaders in their nonviolent struggle against segregated housing. Their efforts pit them against Chicago’s powerful mayor, Richard Daley. When a series of marches through all-white neighborhoods draws violence, King and Daley negotiate with mixed results. In Detroit, a police raid in a black neighborhood sparks an urban uprising that lasts five days, leaving 43 people dead. The Kerner Commission finds that America is becoming “two societies, one black, one white, separate and unequal.” President Lyndon Johnson, who appointed the commission, ignores the report.
SUNDAY, MARCH 13, 2016
The call for Black Power takes various forms across communities in black America. In Cleveland, Carl Stokes wins election as the first black mayor of a major American city. The Black Panther Party, armed with law books, breakfast programs, and guns, is born in Oakland. Substandard teaching practices prompt parents to gain educational control of a Brooklyn school district but then lead them to a showdown with New York City’s teachers’ union.
The Promised Land 1967-1968
SUNDAY, MARCH 20, 2016
Martin Luther King, Jr. stakes out new ground for himself and the rapidly fragmenting civil rights movement. One year before his death, he publicly opposes the war in Vietnam. His Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) embarks on an ambitious Poor People’s Campaign. In the midst of political organizing, King detours to support striking sanitation workers in Memphis, where he is assassinated. King’s death and the failure of his final campaign mark the end of a major stream of the movement.
Ain’t Gonna Shuffle No More 1964-1972
SUNDAY, MARCH 27, 2016
A call to pride and a renewed push for unity galvanize black America. World heavyweight champion Cassius Clay challenges America to accept him as Muhammad Ali, a minister of Islam who refuses to fight in Vietnam. Students at Howard University in Washington, D.C., fight to bring the growing black consciousness movement and their African heritage inside the walls of this prominent black institution. Black elected officials and community activists organize the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana, in an attempt to create a unified black response to growing repression against the movement.
A Nation of Law? 1968-1971
SUNDAY, ARPRIL 3, 2016
Black activism is increasingly met with a sometimes violent and unethical response from local and federal law enforcement agencies. In Chicago, two Black Panther Party leaders are killed in a pre-dawn raid by police acting on information supplied by an FBI informant. In the wake of President Nixon’s call to “law and order,” stepped-up arrests push the already poor conditions at New York’s Attica State Prison to the limit. A five-day inmate takeover calling the public’s attention to the conditions leaves 43 men dead: four killed by inmates, 39 by police.
The Keys to the Kingdom 1974-1980
SUNDAY, ARPRIL 10, 2016
In the 1970s, antidiscrimination legal rights gained in past decades by the civil rights movement are put to the test. In Boston, some whites violently resist a federal court school desegregation order. Atlanta’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, proves that affirmative action can work, but the Bakke Supreme Court case challenges that policy.
Back to the Movement 1979-mid 80s
SUNDAY, ARPRIL 17, 2016
Power and powerlessness. Miami’s black community — pummeled by urban renewal, a lack of jobs, and police harassment — explodes in rioting. But in Chicago, an unprecedented grassroots movement triumphs. Frustrated by decades of unfulfilled promises made by the city’s Democratic political machine, reformers install Harold Washington as Chicago’s first black mayor.
article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)