First airing of acclaimed civil rights documentary series since 1993
PBS Press Tour, Pasadena, CA, January 14, 2006 - PBS, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, and Blackside today announced the return of the award-winning "Eyes on the Prize," a landmark series documenting the history of the civil rights movement. Originally broadcast on PBS in 1987, "Eyes on the Prize" will air on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE in fall 2006 as part of the series' 19th season. Three, two-hour programs will be presented this fall, with an additional eight hours made available at a later date.
"AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is committed to telling challenging stories about the diverse communities that make up this nation," said Mark Samels, executive producer. "We are honored to present this groundbreaking work."
Through contemporary interviews and historical footage "Eyes on the Prize" traces the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954 to the Voting Rights Act in 1965; from early acts of individual courage through the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions. Julian Bond narrates.
"Eyes on the Prize" tells human stories of the movement for social change in the words of both famous and less-known participants. Since the documentary was completed, a number of key figures who appear in the films (including George Wallace, Ralph Abernathy, and Kwame Ture, also known as Stokely Carmichael) have died, making this record of their testimony all the more valuable.
"Every American, every generation should have the chance to see this epic series," said John F. Wilson, Sr. Vice President, PBS. "It's a great victory for all of us to have it return to PBS this fall."
The driving force behind "Eyes on the Prize" was Henry Hampton. A participant in many civil rights landmark events, including the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Hampton set out to share his vision of what he called "the remarkable human drama that was the civil rights movement" through the "Eyes on the Prize" documentary and a book of the same title by Juan Williams.
After Hampton's death in 1998, his sisters, Judi Hampton and Veva Zimmerman, assumed control of Blackside, Inc., his production company. "So many people have contributed to the making of 'Eyes on the Prize' and so many lives have been impacted by its message," said Judi Hampton. "We are very grateful to The Ford Foundation and The Gilder Foundation whose generosity made it possible to bring this important series back to public television."
When "Eyes on the Prize" premiered in 1987, The New York Times called it "the most ambitious documentary undertaken by black filmmakers, and one of the largest television series ever undertaken by a black-owned company." The series went on to win six Emmys and numerous other awards.
Television's most-watched history series, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is the leading producer of historical documentaries, related Web sites, and DVDs. Since its 1988 debut, the series has presented engaging , eye-opening stories of ordinary people and their ordinary lives, and has been recognized with every industry award: Emmys, Peabody Awards, duPont-Columbia Awards, even Oscar nominations. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is produced at WGBH Boston. Major funding is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. National corporate funding is provided by Liberty Mutual and the Scotts Company. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers.
PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's 348 public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online pbskids.org, continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet. PBS is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.