"Eyes on the Prize," a PBS chronicle of the civil rights movement, captures the individual acts of courage by leaders as well as ordinary people, black and white, who helped to force this nation toward democracy for all. The six-part series, which airs Wednesdays, beginning at 9 o'clock tonight on KCET-TV in Los Angeles and KPBS-TV in San Diego, will be rewarding viewing.
Told through old news films and recent interviews, it is in part the story of a mother who bravely spoke out when her son, Emmett Till, 14 and from Chicago, violated the rules for survival in rural Mississippi. His casual remark to a white woman cost him his life. It is in part the story of the courage of the teen-ager's uncle, who broke another rule and testified at the murder trial.
It is much more. When the program focuses on the year-long Montgomery bus boycott, it tells of a 26-year-old minister new to that city, Martin Luther King Jr. The black women who determinedly walked seven or eight miles to work and the white women who defiantly provided rides during the boycott also tell their stories.
Rich in history and anecdote, the series covers the violent desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock and of the University of Mississippi, the March on Selma, the signing of the Voting Rights Act and other milestones during the painful era from 1954 through 1965.