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Thursday, April 8-22 at 9 p.m. – Eyes on the Prize, American Experience

(Rochester, NY) More than two decades after its 1987 premiere, the groundbreaking Eyes on the Prize returns as part of American Experience. The series airs Thursdays, April 8, 15 and 22 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable1011 and 11).

Produced by Blackside, 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. Winner of numerous Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, an International Documentary Award and a Television Critics Association Award, Eyes on the Prize is the most critically acclaimed documentary on civil rights in America.

Hailed as "required watching" (New York Magazine) and "indispensable" (Time), Eyes on the Prize recounts the fight to end decades of discrimination and segregation. It 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 go to the same school, ride the same bus, vote in the same election or participate equally in society. It was a world in which peaceful demonstrators were met with resistance and brutality — in short, a reality that is now nearly incomprehensible to many young Americans. 

Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, 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. Julian Bond, political leader and civil rights activist, narrates.

"We are elated that this landmark series will once again be broadcast across the country, reaching millions of viewers — many of whom may never have seen the original airing," says Judi Hampton, president, Blackside, and sister of the late Henry Hampton, executive producer of the series. "It is our hope that the television programs together with our comprehensive outreach campaign will spark a national dialogue about this important topic."

The driving force behind Eyes on the Prize and Blackside, Henry Hampton (1940-1998) won numerous awards for this landmark series including the duPont-Columbia Gold Baton, the Peabody Award, and Academy Award nominations. He 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. In recent years, a number of key figures who appear in the films (including the Reverend Ralph Abernathy, a leader of the Montgomery bus boycott; Coretta Scott King, wife of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, and an activist in her own right; Kwame Ture, also known as Stokely Carmichael, leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; and George Wallace, 1960s Alabama Governor who resisted integration) have died, making this record of their testimony all the more valuable.

Pictured: Rosa Parks
Credit: AP/Wide World Photos

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WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. Log on to wxxi.org for more information about our services and programs.