Eyes on the Prize: Ain't Gonna Shuffle No More (1964-1972)

About This Episode

"We've been brainwashed. Everything good is supposed to be white...Tarzan, the king of the jungle in black Africa, he's white...Angel food cake is the white cake, but the devils food cake is chocolate." — Muhammad Ali, boxer

Increasingly rejecting white cultural standards and authority, African Americans champion their own cultures and consciousness: the Afro hairstyle becomes a black standard of beauty and a powerful symbol; a black arts movement arises with poet Amiri Baraka being its prime mover; and the phrase "Black Power" indicates rising interest and pride in African heritage. Activists seek to change education and politics; Howard University students demand courses in black studies and culture. In 1972, 8,000 people from 45 states meet for a National Black Political Convention to address unemployment, poverty and other issues, publishing a national agenda. The number of black elected officials will more than double in the following decade.

Cassius Clay, a heavyweight champion boxer, converts to Islam and changes his name to Muhammad Ali. In 1966, when he is drafted for Vietnam, Ali refuses to serve citing religious beliefs. Banned from boxing and stripped of his title, Ali stays in the spotlight, speaking against the war although his popularity suffers.

The award-winning documentary series 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.