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  • Writer's pictureCharles Cherney

143: Eyes on the Prize

As Wikipedia notes, Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement is an American television series and 14-part documentary about the 20th-century civil rights movement in the United States.

Season 1 (six episodes) first aired on PBS in 1987. Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954–1965, chronicles the time period between the United States Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education (1954) to the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965.

Season 2 (eight episodes) first aired on PBS in 1990. Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965–1985, chronicles the time period between the national emergence of Malcolm X during 1964 to the 1983 election of Harold Washington as the first African-American mayor of Chicago. Created and produced by Henry Hampton (1940-1998) at his film production company Blackside, Eyes on the Prize is narrated by Julian Bond (1940-2015) and uses archival footage, stills, and interviews by participants and opponents of the movement.

I remember watching Eyes on the Prize on PBS when it was first broadcast. Recently, I decided to watch it again. At this time, Season 1 is found HBO Max and both Seasons 1 and 2 are found on Kanopy. It's great that you can now stream all 13+ hours of this series on Kanopy, because Kanopy is free.

I recall being moved when I first watched Eyes on the Prize over 30 years ago. I found myself even more deeply moved second time around. Every American ought to see this series. It is extremely powerful. Watching this time, I was struck by how many of the participants featured in Eyes on the Prize have now passed away. Life goes fast.


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