Several themes have emerge recently in our national dialogue about race. One looks at the importance of art to both tell a political story and to act as a forum for political action. The other is the role and importance of understanding the broad scope of history, in looking at where we are and where we are headed as a nation.
In 1987, the fourteen part documentary Eyes on the Prize captured the essence of those two ideas.
It begins by reminding us that “in a ten year period, in the 1950's and 1960's, America fought a second revolution. In the south, in the streets, in churches and in schools...to make America be America for all it's citizens. These were America's civil rights years.”
These are the opening words of Eyes on the Prize. The documentary, directed by Henry Hampton, had its television premiere on PBS thirty years ago. Jon Else was the series producer and cinematographer and now, in his book True South: Henry Hampton and "Eyes on the Prize," the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement, he takes us back to a time whose legacy is so important today.
My conversation with Jon Else: