Eyes on the Prize (1987–1990)
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Awakenings: 1954-1956 

The beginnings of the U.S. Civil rights struggle is profiled, including the Emmett Till murder trial and the Rosa Parks arrest/Montgomery bus boycott.


Judith Vecchione


Steve Fayer

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Episode credited cast:
Ralph Abernathy Ralph Abernathy ... Himself
Unita Blackwell Unita Blackwell ... Herself
Julian Bond Julian Bond ... Narrator
Roy Bryant Roy Bryant ... Himself - Accused Murderer of Emmett Till (archive footage)
Charles C. Diggs Jr. Charles C. Diggs Jr. ... Himself
Virginia Durr Virginia Durr ... Herself
James Eastland James Eastland ... Himself (archive footage)
Sam Engelhardt Sam Engelhardt ... Himself (archive footage)
Georgia Gilmore Georgia Gilmore ... Herself
James Hicks James Hicks ... Himself
William Bradford Huie William Bradford Huie ... Himself
Coretta Scott King Coretta Scott King ... Herself
Martin Luther King ... Himself (archive footage)
Rufus Lewis Rufus Lewis ... Himself
J.W. Milam J.W. Milam ... Himself - Accused Murderer of Emmett Till (archive footage)


The acclaimed documentary series opens with the earliest origins of The Civil Right Movement. As the United States emerges from World War II, many black men who had been relegated to second class citizenry at home, return home from overseas where they were trained as officers and other positions of authority. Returning home, they determined to put that authority into their lives on the home front despite resistance from white Americans. The lynch-pin of The Civil Rights Movement is formed form two specific events. First, is the murder of 14 year-old Emmett Till in 1955, a black Chicago teenager who was murdered by two white Mississippians for supposedly breaking the south's strict social code by making a pass at a white woman. In the midst outrage over the men being acquitted of the murder by an all-white jury, Till's mother put her son's disfigured corpse on display in an open-casket funeral so that the Black Chicago citizens could see the horror of his murder first-hand - then put ... Written by Jerry Roberts <armchairoscars@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

21 January 1987 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Blackside See more »
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User Reviews

The first episode of a very, very good mini-series.
11 May 2012 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

"Eyes on the Prize" is an exceptional series--mostly because instead of the typical hour or half hour documentary, it's VERY thorough and very detailed---covering not just an event but the civil rights movement from 1954 through 1965--and a LOT happened during that time. This isn't surprising, as PBS has made tons of interesting and well-crafted documentaries over the years.

This first episode gives a very brief overview of the pervasiveness of lynchings and other mistreatment of Blacks in America. Then, most of the episode centers on two important events in the mid-1950s--the Emmett Till murder trial and the incident when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus--thus leading to the Montgomery bus boycott and the beginning of Martin Luther King's career as a civil rights leader. My only complaint, and it's a minor one, is that life for Blacks in America prior to the 50s is really not mentioned very much--and it seemed like they went through this a bit too quickly. Still, it was an otherwise excellent show--and well worth seeing.

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