Skip to content

Essays On Eyes On The Prize

14 episodes on 7 DVDs, 55 minutes each
Source: PBS Video

A comprehensive television documentary about the American Civil Rights Movement, utilizing rare historical film and present-day interviews.

Disc 1:
1. Awakenings (1954-56)
Focuses on the Mississippi lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till and the subsequent trial; Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott; the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and the entry of ordinary citizens and local leaders into the black struggle for freedom

2. Fighting Back (1957-62)
Traces the African American community’s rejection of "separate but equal" education, from the Supreme Court's historic Brown v. Board of Education decision to the efforts of the first black high school and college students to integrate white schools.

Disc 2:
3. Ain't Scared of Your Jails (1960-61)
Chronicles the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the participation of young people and college students in lunch counter sit-ins and Freedom Rides, as well as the Civil Rights Movement's influence on the 1960 presidential campaign.

4. No Easy Walk (1962-66)
Examines the emergence of mass demonstrations and marches as a powerful form of protest by documenting the anti-segregation march of Alabama school children against the spray of fire hoses and the historic 1963 March on Washington, DC. The episode highlights the personal risks taken by ordinary citizens, particularly during the Mississippi voting rights campaign and in Freedom Summer 1964, when three young civil rights workers were murdered.

Disc 3:
5. Mississippi: Is This America? (1962-1964)
Focuses on the extraordinary personal risks that citizens faced as they assumed responsibility for social change, particularly during the 1962-64 voting rights campaign in Mississippi. The state became a testing ground of constitutional principles as civil rights activists concentrated their energies on the right to vote. White resistance to the sharing of political power clashed with the strong determination of movement leaders to bring Mississippi blacks to the ballot box. In Freedom Summer 1964, tension between white resistance and civil rights activists reached its height in the tragic murder of three young civil rights workers.

6. Bridge to Freedom (1965)
Opens with the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery and explores the drive to make voting rights a national issue, examining ideological differences within the movement and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Disc 4:
7. The Time Has Come (1964-1966)
Introduces the early 1960s African American community outside the southern-based freedom movement. It describes the rise and transformation of Malcolm X and his influence; demonstrates the movement's struggle to develop new goals and create new strategies in the post-voting rights era; and examines the context of the call for "Black Power."

8. Two Societies (1965-1968)
Explores the southern Civil Rights Movement's first attempt at organizing in the North; presents the frustration and desire for change felt by black residents of northern cities; looks at the 1967 uprising in Detroit; and witnesses the end of an era for the Civil Rights Movement as President Johnson turns his attention to other matters.

Disc 5:
9. Power! (1966-1968)
Traces the political path to power for Carl Stokes, describes the founding of the Black Panther Party, and examines the education experiment in New York's Ocean Hill-Brownsville section.

10. The Promised Land (1967-1968)
Illustrates connections between the war in Vietnam and the problem of poverty in the United States, analyzes the controversial positions taken by Martin Luther King, and discusses the assassination of King and the nationwide reaction to his death.

Disc 6:
11. Ain't Gonna Shuffle No More (1964-1972)
Chronicles Mohammed Ali's career, describes the student movement at Howard University for Black Studies, and documents the events of the National Black Political Convention at Gary, Indiana.

12. A Nation of Law (1968-1971)
Examines the government's response to the Black Panther Party in Chicago and rebelling inmates at Attica Correctional Facility, chronicles the FBI's covert program to disrupt and neutralize black organizations, and specifically documents the activities of an FBI informant who infiltrated the Black Panther Party.

Disc 7:
13. The Keys to the Kingdom (1974-1980)
Describes the desegregation and busing of Boston public schools following the 1974 court order, assesses the success of affirmative action in Atlanta, Georgia, and examines the case of medical student Alan Bakke.

14. Back to the Movement (1979-mid 1980s)
Contrasts the communities of Miami and Chicago in the early 1980s, traces the election of Harold Washington to the position of Chicago's first black mayor, and explores the themes of power and powerlessness.

View or download the Eyes on the Prize study guide.

Please login or register to purchase or borrow resources.

The Real News Beyond The Terror
by Jeff Foster





A bomb in a mosque, bloodshed at prayer. A massacre on a beach full of tourists. Decapitations broadcast in high definition on the internet. Torture, rape, murder, shocking violations of basic human rights. People hurting people in the name of gods and ideologies. Just another day on this ancient planet.

So, is now the time to give up?

Is now the time to sing more loudly our songs of bitterness, defeat and unbridled rage? Is the world a meaningless mistake, an aberration of consciousness, a waste of everyone’s time? Was the philosophy of nihilism correct in the end?

When confronted with ‘news’ like the above we can often feel so powerless, so disappointed, so frightened, so unstable, like we are living in a world that’s gone mad, insane, out of control. It all seems like a nightmare, like some evil or dark force must be slowly taking over. Some start talking about the nearing of the Apocalypse. Certainly it can feel like the end of the fairytale world we once believed in.

In the midst of the devastation we seek answers, causes, someone or something to blame, a way to diffuse our tension, an outlet for all this anger, grief and confusion, this unprocessed life energy. Do we blame the killers? Their parents? Society as a whole? The human brain? The food we ingest? Chemicals? The stars? Our governments? Religions? Do we objectify the killers as sick, twisted, deluded, evil madmen? Do we go to war with them as they have gone to war with us, wishing more death and destruction upon them and their children, their mothers, their lovers? Do we enter into the age-old story of good versus evil, us versus them? Do we further solidify our identification with a mind-made sense of self? Do we deepen the divisions?

In the name of peace, do we become terrorists ourselves?

Do we curse God and the universe and wish we hadn’t been born? Do we try to numb ourselves, distract ourselves from the ‘news’, with alcohol, drugs, sex, work, shopping, worldly comforts? Do we dismiss the horrors, detach our hearts from the hearts of our brothers and sisters in other regions of the planet, turn our backs on their plight, mumbling to ourselves as we read the newspaper on our morning commute about how “awful” and “terrible” things are but doing nothing to bring about real change and healing?

Do we broadcast the problem, yet give up on being part of the solution?

Do we turn to spiritual teachers who comfort us with talk about the illusory nature of life and the unreality of all we witness? Do we regurgitate empty phrases like ‘nothing matters’, ‘it’s all just an innocent play of maya’, and ‘nobody has any choice anyway’? Do we call what we see ‘unreal’ or ‘illusion’, sparing ourselves from the pain of having to confront the messiness and seeming uncontrollability of this relative and impermanent manifestation? Do we pretend that world events have nothing to do with us, that everything is disconnected and we are islands unto ourselves? Do we descend into solipsism? Anarchy? Do we close our hearts even more tightly than they are already closed, build our walls even higher and live in a protected state of fear? Do we reject this world and dream of a perfect afterlife?

Do we use the ‘reality’ of the news as an excuse to give up, to shut down, to forget who we truly are? Do we let the ‘terrorists’ win by leaving our path and living in terror ourselves, and terrorising others who we label as ‘evil’? Do we add to the problems that we see?

Or do we use the appearance of problems to look deeply at ourselves and the way we live and treat others? Do we see the madness as a call to clarity? The violence as a call to love? The pain as a call to compassion? The terror as a call to remember and express more deeply and with more conviction that infinite intelligence that we are?

Do we condone the killings? Absolutely not. Do we feel the pain of the victims, and the victims’ loved ones? Of course, for we are not separate. Would we do everything we could to prevent this kind of thing happening again? Certainly. Do we work for justice? Yes. Do we sit back and simply ‘accept’? If acceptance means detachment and passivity and toleration, no. If it means coming into profound alignment with life, knowing that intelligent change and healing always emerges from a fearless plunge into the mystery of the moment, then yes. True acceptance and creative change are lovers.

In the Middle East, a Jew donates a kidney to a sick Palestinian, saving her precious life. In India, a woman feeds and washes those with leprosy, because she sees that we are all expressions of the very same consciousness and it brings her joy to live in this way, despite the names that others call her. In San Francisco, a son holds his elderly father’s hand, and suddenly forgiveness happens as if by magic, unexpectedly, the weight and violence and resentment of a lifetime falling away, as if it never happened at all.

What ‘news’ are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them that they have been born into an essentially scary and bad and sick world, and they should live in fear and hate? Do we teach them that violence is inevitable, and ‘built into’ to their nature? Do we give in to terror and use it as an excuse to abandon our true calling? Or do we teach our children that the murder and torture we see in the news every day stems from a deep forgetting of who we are, a false and misguided belief in separation?

What is the true news of today?

Are we teaching our children to give up on their dreams because there are bad people out there intent on stopping them? Are we teaching them to give up on love, and give up on compassion, and give up on change, and give up on humanity, and give up on joy, because of all the ‘news’? Are we teaching them to focus on what is wrong with the world, to cling to the ‘negative’, to sing songs of defeat and disillusionment? Or are we blinding them to the ‘negative’ by focussing only on the ‘positive’? Or are we teaching them to acknowledge the violence of the world, the pain of it, but to see that all this sorrow is part of an infinitely vaster picture, a picture where everything is interconnected and everything makes a difference and everything is in balance and nothing is set in stone?

Don’t use the ‘news’ as an excuse to stop living your truth, even for a moment. Don’t believe for a second that there is a force called ‘evil’ in the world with any power whatsoever to win out over love.

Terror cannot win, for it emerges from a gross misunderstanding of our nature. We are only hurting ourselves, stabbing ourselves, blowing ourselves up, and deep down, we know this and have always known. A wave can never be separated from the ocean, or from any other wave, and beyond our differences in opinion and belief, we are all movements of the One Life, the true Power, beyond the worldly ‘power’ of guns and meat cleavers dripping with blood.

Teach your children the realities of the world, yes, but, more importantly, teach them the realities of their hearts and the hearts of those they call ‘others’. Let the current play of violence actually serve to deepen your conviction in that timeless and unshakeable gift of Presence that you have always known, and reconfirm your intention to end all violence in yourself, to live as you know you can live. Don’t allow the ‘news’, or at least the stories selectively presented to you as the ‘news’, to distract you from Truth.

Honour the victims.
Walk your path with courage.
Speak out. Create. Organize.
Switch off your f*cking television.
Keep your eyes on the prize.

– Jeff Foster