Eyes on the Prize
About This Program
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.
The award-winning documentary series recounts the fight to end decades of discrimination and segregation from the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 to Harold Washington's mayoral win of 1983 in Chicago. This is the story of the people -- young and old, male and female, northern and southern -- who, compelled by a meeting of conscience and circumstance, worked to eradicate a world where whites and blacks could not attend the same school, ride the same bus, vote in the same election, or participate equally in society. It was a time in which peaceful demonstrators were met with resistance and brutality -- a reality that may once have been nearly incomprehensible to many young Americans but is all too undeniable once again today.
Through historical interviews and footage, the critically acclaimed Eyes on the Prize 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. Narrated by political leader and civil rights activist Julian Bond (1940-2015).
Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now
A re-examination of the series, Eyes on the Prize, from the filmmakers’ perspective, and viewpoint of civil rights activists then and now. This intergenerational dialogue takes the civil rights movement and places it under a microscope – revisiting, reframing and re-asking key questions while contextualizing those issues in a contemporary way.
Eyes on the Prize: Awakenings (1954-1956)
Individual acts of courage inspire black Southerners to fight for their rights: Moses Wright stands up by testifying against the white men who murdered his young nephew Emmett Till in Mississippi, and Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, leading to a year-long boycott and Supreme Court decision.
Eyes on the Prize: Fighting Back (1957-1962)
States' rights loyalists and federal authorities collide over integration and segregation; Arkansas' Central High School in 1957 (Little Rock Nine), and the University of Mississippi in 1962 (James Meredith). Both times, a Southern governor squares off with a U.S. president, violence erupts...and integration is carried out.
Eyes on the Prize: Ain't Scared of Your Jails (1960-1961)
Black college students take a leadership role in the civil rights movement; the lunch counter sit-in movement starts in Greensboro, North Carolina and spreads to 69 cities in the South. "Freedom Riders" try to desegregate interstate travel, which the Supreme has banned twice, but are brutally attacked as they travel through Alabama and Mississippi.
Eyes on the Prize: No Easy Walk (1961-1963)
The civil rights movement discovers the power of mass demonstrations with success and failure. Under the leadership of the very visible Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the triumphant March on Washington, D.C. in 1963 shows a mounting national support for civil rights. And President John F. Kennedy proposes the Civil Rights Act.
Eyes on the Prize: Mississippi: Is This America? (1963-1964)
Mississippi's grassroots civil rights movement becomes an American concern when college students travel south to help register black voters; three activists - two white students and one black local - are murdered. The inclusive Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party challenges the Mississippi delegation at the Democratic Convention.
Eyes on the Prize: Bridge to Freedom (1965)
A decade of lessons is applied in the peaceful-turned-climactic and bloody march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery. "Blood Sunday" leads to two additional marches, one symbolic and one full-scale, and a major victory: the Voting Rights Act is passed in 1965. But civil rights leaders know they have new challenges ahead.
Eyes on the Prize: The Time Has Come (1964-1965)
After a decade-long cry for justice, a new sound is heard in the Civil Rights Movement: the call for power. Malcolm X takes nationalism to urban streets as a younger generation of black leaders listens. In the South, Stokely Carmichael and the SNCC move from "Freedom Now!" to "Black Power!" as the fabric of the traditional movement changes.
Eyes on the Prize: Two Societies (1965-1968)
While Martin Luther King, Jr. and SCLC assist Chicago's civil rights leaders in a struggle against segregated housing, a police raid in a black Detroit neighborhood sparks an uprising leaving 43 people dead. Upon investigation, the Kerner Commission finds that America is becoming "two societies, one black, one white, separate & unequal."
Eyes on the Prize: Power! (1966-1968)
The call for Black Power takes on various forms in black America: Carl Stokes is elected as the first black mayor of a major American city; the Black Panther Party, armed with books, programs, and guns, is born; and substandard teaching practices prompt parents to gain educational control of a school district leading to a union showdown.
Eyes on the Prize: The Promised Land (1967-1968)
Martin Luther King, Jr. stakes out new ground for himself and the Civil Rights Movement; he opposes the Vietnam War and his SCLC embarks on the Poor People's Campaign. In the midst of organizing, King detours to 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.
Eyes on the Prize: Ain't Gonna Shuffle No More (1964-1972)
A renewed push for unity galvanize black America: Cassius Clay challenges America to accept him as Muhammad Ali; students fight to bring the black consciousness movement to Howard University; and black officials and activists organize the National Black Political Convention to create a response to growing repression against the movement.
Eyes on the Prize: A Nation of Law? (1968-1971)
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.
Eyes on the Prize: The Keys to the Kingdom (1974-1980)
In the 1970s, anti-discrimination 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. In Atlanta, Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor, proves that affirmative action can work, but the Bakke Supreme Court case challenges it.
Eyes on the Prize: Back to the Movement (1979-mid 80s)
Power and powerlessness. Pummeled by urban renewal, a lack of jobs, and police harassment, Miami's black community explodes in rioting. But in Chicago, a grassroots movement triumphs; frustrated by decades of unfulfilled promises made by the Democratic political machine, reformers install Harold Washington as Chicago's first black mayor.