PBS airs documentary 'Eyes on the Prize'


Rosa Parks is fingerprinted by police Lt. D.H. Lackey in Montgomery, Ala., in this Feb. 22, 1956, file photo, two months after refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger on Dec. 1, 1955. Parks' refusal to give up her seat helped launch the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted 13 months. The 43-year-old woman was arrested and jailed for violating the law banning integration. On Monday, October 2, 2006, at 9pm, "American Experience" presents "Awakenings 1954-1956," part 1 of "Eyes on the Prize," the landmark history of the American Civil Rights Movement.

(AP Photo/Gene Herrick/FILE)
Published: Sunday, October 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
It's the definitive filmed documentary of the civil rights era.
Nearly two decades after its 1987 premiere, "Eyes on the Prize" returns to the air Monday on PBS' "American Experience" with the first of three weekly two-hour installments that cover the struggle for equality from the Montgomery bus boycott to the Voting Rights Act.
Produced by the late filmmaker Henry Hampton, "Eyes on the Prize" recounts the fight to end decades of discrimination and segregation where whites and blacks could not attend the same school, ride the same bus or otherwise share equally in American life. The tale is told from the point of view of ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that, however belatedly, helped America make good on its most basic promises.
Airing 9 p.m. Monday, the first installment includes "Awakenings - 1954-56," which chronicles individual acts of courage that inspired black Southerners to fight for what was due them: Mose Wright testifying against the white men who murdered young Emmett Till, and Rosa Parks refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Ala.
Then, at 10 p.m., "Fighting Back - 1957-1962" charts the collision of states' rights loyalists with federal authorities in the 1957 battle to integrate Little Rock's Central High School, and then again with James Meredith's 1962 challenge to segregation at the University of Mississippi. In both instances, a Southern governor squared off with a U.S. president; violence erupted; integration was carried out.
Subsequent editions will air Oct. 9 and 16, concluding with "Bridge to Freedom - 1965" and passage of the Voter Rights Bill.
Eight additional hours of this much-honored series will air in the future.
Other shows to look out for include these three fall series premieres:
  • (tonight at 8:30; CW) is a lightweight sitcom about women who play the game of being wives, girlfriends, groupies and moms of pro football stars. In particular, Tia Mowry is cast as a medical school student who juggles her studies with the demands of her boyfriend (Pooch Hall), a rookie with the San Diego Sabers. Also starring Coby Bell, Hosea Chanchez, Wendy Raquel Robinson and Brittany Daniel, "The Game" seldom scores.
  • "Friday Night Lights" (Tuesday, 8 p.m.; NBC) is a drama about football that even viewers who care nothing about football will love. Breathtaking in how it captures ordinary life set against extraordinary passions and world-class skills, this is the saga of a small Texas town and its high school team, the Panthers - the nation's top-ranked high school football squad. And in this first week of their season, the newly appointed head coach (Kyle Chandler) has no choice but to kick things off with a win. As the tension mounts, "Friday Night Lights" proves itself a winner.
  • "The Nine" (Wednesday, 10 p.m.; ABC) begins with the chance meeting of strangers at a Los Angeles bank branch, where they are held hostage for two days by a pair of gunmen. But the long-range mission of this gripping drama is to track the aftereffects of those who were there (including the perpetrators) - lives changed and intertwined in ways none of them could have imagined. The strong ensemble cast includes Tim Daly, Scott Wolf, Chi McBride and Kim Raver.
  • "Capitol Crimes" (Wednesday at 9 p.m.): Bill Moyers looks at Beltway corruption in a 90-minute documentary that begins three weeks of "Moyers on America" investigations. "Capitol Crimes" chronicles the rise of lobbyist Jack Abramoff from an ambitious young ideologue to a kingpin of Republican Washington. Abramoff has pleaded guilty in an influence-peddling scandal and is cooperating with a wide-ranging Justice Department probe of alleged corruption on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch. Moyers describes the Abramoff affair as "perfidy and politics that boggles the imagination" - and yet the possibility for more Abramoffs to rise, he adds, is unchanged: "The system remains as vulnerable as ever." Following the documentary is a discussion of the scandal's implications led by Moyers.
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