Best documentary on American civil rights movement


Eyes on the prize

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Created: Wed, 20 Sep 2006

Category: Documentary

Director: Henry Hampton

Eyes on the prize is easily one of the best documentary series ever made. It covers the civil rights movement in USA from 1954 to 1965. Black war Veterans returned from fighting in Europe and other continents for ‘freedom’ and democracy to return home to Jim Crow America. Reluctant efforts to desegregate a highly divided society only resulted in mobilising a stiff white resistance. Ku Kulx Klan emerged to terrorise and keep the ‘Negros’ in their place. This time around, African Americans respond with a resounding civil rights movement – Eyes on the prize is easily the best story told on this inspiring movement. This series consists of six videos covering different landmarks of the civil rights movement. Extensive videos of real life events are beautifully woven together by a series of interviews by the movement’s leading lights.

A major challenge to segregation came with Brown Vs. Board of Education where the Federal Supreme Court ruled that segregation is unconstitutional. South decided to resist the judgement – and resist it did. One volume covers the effort of six Black children who decided to go to a white school. These children were chosen by the school given their meritorious performance. When they go to school they meet a huge boisterous from the city as well as other parts of Southern USA. Five of them are together, and they are chased away by the angry crowd. One girl who did not get the message that they’d go together gets separated. The sight of this young girl amidst a massive angry crowd is one of the most moving and lasting images the documentary leaves us with.

The six students persisted in their attempt to go to school, and were finally able to make it only with the assistance of a large contingent of US Army sent by the President of USA. Six volumes take us through white resistance, mobs and violence that is faced by Black counter resistance, non-violent action, and sheer persistence. Extensive coverage is given to Montgomery Bus Boycott, march on Washington, and civil rights movements in various Southern states.

A distinguishing feature of the documentary is the extensive set of real life videos put together seamlessly. It is altogether different issue to hear about racism and to see its manifestation on video. Images of US Army escorting school children, bombings in U Mississippi just because one black student wished to enrol, racist speeches by Governors of Southern States, Klan rituals, unleashing of water cannons on school children by ‘Bull Connor’, and other poignant will remind the viewer for ever of how oppressive we can become as a society. The peaceful resistance by Black Americans and their allies is a strong reminder of the more hopeful side of humanity.

This series is a comprehensive introduction to the civil rights movement in the US. It is a powerful reminder of what difficulties people had to face in doing the most common things such as go to school, vote, eat in restaurants, travel in buses, etc. I recommend it strongly to everyone…this is a story of what the society was…what it is. More importantly it is a message of what it can be, and what each of us should do and can do to make this world a better place.

My detailed reviews of movies can be found here and to see my ratings for various movies and short reviews, click here.

A preview from You Tube

Eyes on the prize will be produced no more

This beautiful documentary cannot be reproduced due to copyright laws – a beautiful clip on this from you tube below.

A major challenge to segregation came with Brown Vs. Board of Education where the Federal Supreme Court ruled that segregation is unconstitutional. South decided to resist the judgement – and resist it did. One volume covers the effort of six Black children who decided to go to a white school. These children were chosen by the school given their meritorious performance. When they go to school they meet a huge boisterous from the city as well as other parts of Southern USA. Five of them are together, and they are chased away by the angry crowd. One girl who did not get the message that they’d go together gets separated. The sight of this young girl amidst a massive angry crowd is one of the most moving and lasting images the documentary leaves us with.

The six students persisted in their attempt to go to school, and were finally able to make it only with the assistance of a large contingent of US Army sent by the President of USA. Six volumes take us through white resistance, mobs and violence that is faced by Black counter resistance, non-violent action, and sheer persistence. Extensive coverage is given to Montgomery Bus Boycott, march on Washington, and civil rights movements in various Southern states.

A distinguishing feature of the documentary is the extensive set of real life videos put together seamlessly. It is altogether different issue to hear about racism and to see its manifestation on video. Images of US Army escorting school children, bombings in U Mississippi just because one black student wished to enrol, racist speeches by Governors of Southern States, Klan rituals, unleashing of water cannons on school children by ‘Bull Connor’, and other poignant will remind the viewer for ever of how oppressive we can become as a society. The peaceful resistance by Black Americans and their allies is a strong reminder of the more hopeful side of humanity.

This series is a comprehensive introduction to the civil rights movement in the US. It is a powerful reminder of what difficulties people had to face in doing the most common things such as go to school, vote, eat in restaurants, travel in buses, etc. I recommend it strongly to everyone…this is a story of what the society was…what it is. More importantly it is a message of what it can be, and what each of us should do and can do to make this world a better place.

<div class=”alert”>My <a href=”http://viveks.info/index.php?tag=movie-reviews”>detailed reviews of movies</a> can be found here and to see my ratings for various movies and short reviews, <a href=”http://viveks.info/topics/movies-reviews-and-rating”>click here</a>.</div>

<h2>A preview from You Tube</h2>

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<h2>Eyes on the prize will be produced no more</h2>

This beautiful documentary cannot be reproduced due to copyright laws – a beautiful clip on this from you tube below.

<object width=”425″ height=”350″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/Wz4bbn_cPCs”></param><param name=”wmode” value=”transparent”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/Wz4bbn_cPCs” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” wmode=”transparent” width=”425″ height=”350″></embed></object> // –>


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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