Eyes on the Prize

Episode 1: AWAKENINGS(1954-1956)
Chapter 1: MOVEMENT
Following World War II, multifaceted efforts were undertaken to end segregation in the southern
United States. These early civil rights struggles were described as initiating a second revolution –
fought by black and white citizens. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. attempts to build a society
at peace with itself. Important questions arise from the interpretation of the US Constitution. In
particular, “What is an inalienable right?”
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) brought several lawsuits
in federal courts calling into question the entire system of segregation in public schools. On May 17,
1954, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that segregated schools were unconstitutional,
because such segregation based on race denied the students the equal protection of the laws guaranteed
by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
Chapter 3: EMMETT TILL
Mose Wright agrees to testify in the trial of the two white men accused of killing his 14-year-old grandnephew,
Emmett Till. Till, who had been raised in Chicago, Illinois, had been visiting Wright in Mississippi
when he was abducted at gunpoint from Wright’s home. Supposedly, Till had spoken disrespectfully to a
white woman in the town grocery. Till’s badly beaten body was found in a river tied to the fan from a cotton
gin. The case generates national interest and highlights the cruelest aspects of segregated society.
Chapter 4: ROSA PARKS
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white male passenger at the request
of the bus driver. Her arrest and conviction sparked the black residents of Montgomery, Alabama, into
boycotting the city’s buses to end that system of segregation.
At 26, Dr. King was picked to lead the Montgomery Improvement Association and the bus boycott following
the arrest of Rosa Parks. Under the leadership of Dr. King and others, the black community of
Montgomery organizes its own transportation system of private cars to avoid using the city buses.
The bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, continues, and the violence ensues. Regular “mass meetings”
in church provide the key means of education and communication for the citizens participating
in the boycott. The Reverend Ralph Abernathy and the Dr. King inspire the citizens at the meetings.
Segregationists seek to end the boycott through violence and intimidation. In response, Dr. King urges
a continuation of nonviolent resistance.

Episode 2: FIGHTING BACK(1957-1962)
Many white southerners are extremely resistant to the efforts to integrate public schools in the wake of
Brown v. Board of Education. The enrollment of Autherine Lucy, a black woman, in the all-white
University of Alabama leads to a riot on the campus. She is suspended soon after. Although she eventually
won a court case permitting her to attend classes, she is expelled for saying that the university
used the riots to keep her out.
In September 1957, nine black children are selected to enter Little Rock’s Central High School.
On their first day, eight of the children are kept out of the school by National Guard troops sent in by
Gov. Orval Faubus. The ninth child, a girl, is met and harassed by a mob until she boards a
bus for home.
Chapter 3: LITTLE ROCK
President Dwight Eisenhower calls in federal troops in response to Gov. Orval Faubus’ efforts preventing
the nine black students from attending Little Rock’s Central High School. For the remainder of
the school year, federal soldiers escort the students during the day.
Members of the Little Rock Nine, as well as some white students, provide their opinions regarding the
integration of Central High School. News footage contrasted with contemporary interviews provide
insights into the day-to-day life of school-age children.
Chapter 5: SCHOOL’S OUT
To prevent the integration of public schools, some governors, notably those in Arkansas and Virginia,
close their schools. In 1960, the attendance of four black girls in elementary schools in New Orleans,
Louisiana, sets off a citywide riot. National leaders come to recognize that desegregation has become a
fact of political life in the South. There is hope in the black community that President John F.
Kennedy will support further desegregation.
Chapter 6: OLE MISS
In 1962, James Meredith, a young black man, attempts to enroll in the all-white University of
Mississippi, also known as “Ole Miss.” The state’s governor, Ross Barnett, leads the resistance. He vows
to protect Mississippi’s heritage. The presence of federal marshals sent to the campus by President
Kennedy to allow Meredith’s enrollment sparks a riot. Two people are killed and many wounded. In
response, President Kennedy sends federal troops to the campus, and Meredith is allowed to enroll.
Episode 3: AIN’T SCARED OF YOUR JAILS (1960-1961)
In 1960, many of the students attending the four black colleges in Nashville, Tennessee, came from
areas of the nation that were not subject to the written and unwritten laws of segregation. As student
Diane Nash recalls, she felt “stifled.” The students attend workshops in nonviolent direct action that
are lead by Jim Lawson. The training received in the workshops is tested when the students stage a sitin
at a downtown store’s lunch counter. The protest against the refusal to serve black customers continues
for two weeks without a violent incident.
On February 27, 1960, the students staging the lunch counter sit-in are attacked by a white gang. As
each group of students is removed from their seats by police, another group takes their place.
Although the students do not fight back, more than 80 of them are arrested on charges of disorderly
conduct. Following their convictions, many of the students decide to serve jail time instead of paying
the $60 fine, seeing it as a “badge of honor.”
Chapter 3: BOYCOTT
In response to the actions taken against the students participating in the sit-ins, the black community
of Nashville decides to boycott all stores in the downtown area. This “Easter Boycott” expands to picketing
the Northern branches of the national chain stores. As the boycott continues, both black and
white patrons stay away from downtown Nashville.
The devastating bombing of Alexander Looby’s home leads to a march to Nashville’s City Hall. Looby,
who survived, was an attorney representing the sit-in students after their arrests. The marchers meet
Mayor Ben West on the steps of City Hall. When pressed, he tells the crowd that he would not refuse to
serve customers on account of their color or race. Three weeks later, black customers are served at
downtown Nashville’s lunch counters. In interviews, both Mayor West and student Diane Nash provide
their recollections of the events.
Chapter 5: SNCC
In spring 1960, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is formed at a meeting in
Raleigh, North Carolina. The group is “based upon a new optimism–that youth could be a real force
for change.” With Ella Baker’s support, SNCC undertakes its own leadership role apart from the established
groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Concurrently, the issue
of civil rights in the presidential election race intensifies when the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. is sentenced to four months of hard labor. When candidate John F. Kennedy expresses his sympa-
thies and his brother Robert intervenes on Dr. King’s behalf, black ministers endorse Kennedy on the
Sunday before election day. Kennedy then wins an extremely close election over Richard Nixon.
The Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) undertakes a program of “Freedom Rides” to force
President Kennedy to get the Interstate Commerce Commission to enforce Supreme Court decisions
desegregating interstate transportation. Two buses are loaded with Freedom Riders in Washington,
D.C., for a tour of Southern cities. The buses cross several states without incident, but one bus is firebombed
in Alabama. Soon after, the passengers on the other bus are attacked when they enter the terminal
in Birmingham, Alabama.
After the violence stopped the first Freedom Ride in Alabama, the SNCC students from Nashville vow
to continue the program. One of those students, Diane Nash, provides her insight into why it was so
important to continue after the “massive violence.” Robert F. Kennedy, the attorney general, becomes
involved when it is apparent that little protection is offered to the Freedom Riders. Alabama’s
Governor John Patterson refuses to guarantee the safety of the Freedom Riders on a trip from
Birmingham to Montgomery. Despite subsequent assurances from the state government as to the safety
of the Freedom Riders, protection disappears before they reach Montgomery, and they are beaten
by a mob upon reaching the city. Robert Kennedy calls in federal marshals to help stop the increasing
violence. Dr. King arrives to lead a rally at the First Baptist Church. While at the church, Dr. King and
the marchers come under siege from an angry mob. Gov. Patterson declares martial law and Alabama
guardsmen are deployed to restore order.
Chapter 8: THE DEAL
Under an agreement between Mississippi and Robert F. Kennedy, Freedom Riders are arrested as they
reach the bus terminal in Jackson, Mississippi, from Alabama. The Freedom Riders are convicted of
trespassing and are sentenced to 60 days in a maximum security prison. During summer 1961, approximately
300 more Freedom Riders are arrested. In addition, Attorney General Kennedy petitions the
Interstate Commerce Commission for regulatory enforcement of the laws governing the desegregation
of interstate transportation. It is evident that the students have become a political force, and they
came to understand the power of their nonviolent tactics.
Episode 4: NO EASY WALK(1961-1963)
Chapter 1: ALABAMA
Alabama in 1963 was on a “collision course” with the civil rights movement. While civil rights demonstrations
had taken place in Alabama before, Birmingham, in particular, became the focus of the
national leadership. State officials, such as Gov. George Wallace, and local officials, such as
Birmingham’s Bull Connor, had met all efforts at desegregation with determined resistance. In addition,
civil rights demonstrators, including the Freedom Riders and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, had
been violently attacked.
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came to Albany, Georgia, in 1961 to organize
efforts against segregation. At the time, Albany had a very strong black community, and the SNCC
wanted to apply as much pressure against the segregationists as it could. The Reverend Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. also came to Albany at the request of a local minister. These efforts, however, were not
very effective because of the actions taken by the Chief of Police Laurie Pritchett. Chief Pritchett’s
unorthodox approach of spreading out the arrested demonstrators among many jails deprives organizers
of the ability to shut down the jails and avoids a confrontation.
Chapter 3: A SETBACK
The Albany movement finds strength and solidarity in mass meetings and song. In July 1962, Dr. King
and Rev. Ralph Abernathy are sentenced to 45 days in an Albany, Georgia, jail. To avoid the national attention
that the imprisonment would have attracted, Chief Laurie Pritchett arranges for someone to pay the
fines so that the reverends are released after three days in jail. Soon after their release, a federal court issues
a restraining order curbing the demonstrations in Albany. Although unable to achieve victory, the leadership
sees Albany as symbolic of the importance of a having a specific goal.
Chapter 4: PROJECT C
On April 4, 1963, Bull Connor loses an election for mayor. The next day the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference (SCLC) begins “Project C.” The “C” stands for confrontation. Although a new
group of local officials is elected to the Birmingham city government, the group in office refuses to
cede power. In the confusion, Bull Connor remains in charge of both the fire and police departments.
During this time, Project C receives criticism from some allies because the members desire to see the
new officials reform city government. In response to the waning of Project C, Dr. King decides to
protest and have himself arrested. While in jail, he writes “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as a rebuttal
to a published letter written by local white clergy.
The SCLC decides to urge young people to demonstrate in part because there is less financial stress
than if adults are arrested. On the first day of the new program more than 700 children are arrested
in Birmingham. The next day more than 1,000 children come to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
to march. Bull Connor tries to stop the march before it starts with police dogs and fire hoses. The
incident receives international attention, and his tactics are widely condemned.
As the children’s campaign continues, more and more of the demonstrators are arrested. By the fifth
day, approximately 2,500 people are arrested including 2,000 children. Pressure is increasing on the
local government as the jails are filled and officials are working overtime. Bull Connor again directs
the use of fire hoses against demonstrators in downtown Birmingham. In response to the heightened
tensions, the Department of Justice tries to negotiate a settlement. On May 10, 1963, an agreement is
reached regarding the desegregation of businesses in Birmingham.
Chapter 7: A MORAL ISSUE
Following the settlement in Birmingham, a bomb explodes outside of Dr. King’s recently vacated
motel room. The incident and the police response spark rioting, which spreads nationwide. The next
month, President Kennedy calls civil rights a moral issue and requests the passage of a civil rights bill
in Congress. At about the same time, the March on Washington is entering the final planning stages.
On August 20, 1963, more than 200,000 people gather for the symbolic march down the National Mall
to the Lincoln Memorial.
Dr. King gives his landmark speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. After the speech, Dr. King is
recognized as the leader of the civil rights movement. Reverend Abernathy recalls the day of the march as
the “greatest day of my life.” Just 18 days later, unfortunately, a bomb explodes before Sunday services in
Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Fifteen people are injured and four children are killed.
Episode 5: MISSISSIPPI: IS THIS AMERICA?(1962-1964)
Formed in 1954, the Citizens’ Council is the most powerful organization in Mississippi. It is dedicated to
maintaining the system of segregation in the state. The council and its local affiliates punish anyone —
black or white — who cross their path. By the early 1960s, the issue of voting rights has become central to
the struggle for civil rights. Mississippi had extremely low rates of voter registration for black citizens in
part because of onerous registration procedures. In fact, some counties in the state had no black voters
registered. In response, Bob Moses and other organizers with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC) began drives to register more voters. Unita Blackwell recalls being asked to encourage
her fellow citizens to register and vote.
Medgar Evers was the field secretary for the Mississippi NAACP. He was a leader of the civil rights
movement both in Jackson and throughout Mississippi. In June 1963, there is considerable tension in
Jackson as hundreds of protestors are arrested and the mayor states that he would arrest 10,000 if necessary.
The power over the political process becomes the central issue for the demonstrators. Medgar
Evers’ widow, Myrlie Evers, remembers the dangerous atmosphere in Jackson. She also provides her
account of the night Medgar was fatally shot. Late in the evening on June 11, 1963, Medgar was shot
in the back as he got out of his car in his driveway. Earlier that night, President John F. Kennedy had
given a televised address on the issue of civil rights. [The video states that no one was ever convicted
in the death. However, Byron De La Beckwith was convicted of the murder in 1994.]
In June 1964, SNCC’s Bob Moses announces “Freedom Summer,” a project to bring college students
from the northern states into Mississippi. SNCC conducts training seminars so that the students are
versed in the tactics of nonviolent protest. On June 20, 1964, the first wave of students enters Mississippi.
This first wave includes James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. The following day, the
three are arrested shortly after inspecting the remnants of a black church that had been burned. They
are released at 10 p.m. and are never seen alive again. A massive search begins for the three.
A new political party is formed during Freedom Summer. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
(MFDP) is created as an alternative to the established democratic party in Mississippi. This party and
other challenges to the political system give rise to talk of a “second Reconstruction” by some whites
and the Citizens’ Council. Despite the threats and violence of those opposed to reform, approximately
60,000 people register for the MFDP. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
but it does not affect the right of southern blacks to vote. SNCC and the volunteers continue to be
active in Mississippi and operate 41 Freedom Schools.

On August 4, 1964, the bodies of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner are found in
an earthen dam outside of Philadelphia, Mississippi. Each of them had been shot to death, while Chaney
had also been beaten. The system of segregation extends even to death as the families of Chaney, who
was black, and Schwerner, who was white, are unable to have them buried next to each other in
Meridian, Mississippi. Dave Dennis of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) expresses the frustration
of many in a speech at Chaney’s funeral. Although seven whites were convicted of federal civil rights violations
in the deaths of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, the state did not file any charges.
Chapter 6: MFDP
Two delegations from Mississippi arrive in Atlantic City for the 1964 National Convention of the
Democratic Party. It falls to the party’s credentialing committee to decide which group gets the credentials
to represent Mississippi on the floor of the convention. Using back channels, President
Johnson presses for a compromise. A compromise is eventually proposed allowing the Mississippi
Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) two seats on the convention floor. The compromise upsets both
delegations with many of the Mississippi Democrats returning to Jackson in protest. MFDP also rejects
the compromise and attempts to occupy all of Mississippi’s seats on the convention floor.
Episode 6: BRIDGE TO FREEDOM(1965)
As the civil rights movement reaches its tenth anniversary, the commitment to the strategy of nonviolent
civil disobedience is tested. Race riots occur in northern cities during the summer of 1964. The
civil rights movement also had difficulties in southern cities in part because of the tensions between
the older and more established Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) led by the
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the grass-roots oriented Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC). In December 1964, Dr. King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Despite their differences,
the SCLC and SNCC agree in January 1965 to work together in Selma, Alabama. Selma is
located in Dallas County where half of the residents are black but approximately 1 percent of those
residents are registered voters.
Amelia Boynton, a well-respected black woman from Selma, Alabama, is arrested by Sheriff James
Clark during a demonstration. In protest of Clark’s actions, teachers in the city stage a march. This
march is the first civil rights demonstration in Selma by a group of middle-class residents. The teachers’
march inspires Selma’s other professionals to march. The Rev. C.T. Vivian confronts Sheriff Clark
on the steps of Selma’s courthouse. Sheriff Clark loses his temper and punches Rev. Vivian in the face.
In interviews, both men give their recollections of the event. In a speech, Dr. King says that Selma
must take responsibility for Sheriff Clark’s actions.
During a nighttime march in Marion, Alabama, outside of Selma, the marchers are attacked by a mob.
During the melee, a young black man named Jimmie Lee Jackson is shot by a state trooper. The shooting
occurs while Jackson is attempting to protect his mother. At the funeral, Dr. King blames both the state
and federal governments for the death of Jackson. One of the marchers, Albert Turner, recalls that the
mourners at Jackson’s funeral wanted to carry Jackson’s casket to Gov. George Wallace at the state capitol in
Montgomery. This idea becomes the genesis of the march from Selma to Montgomery. The Rev. James
Bevel of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) says that the planned march was a way to
channel the anger and frustration that could have destroyed the civil rights movement.
On Sunday, March 7, 1965, 600 people gather in Selma for a multi-day march to Montgomery, the
state capital. The marchers do not encounter any police as they walk through downtown Selma. As
they reach the other side of the Edmund Pettus bridge, the marchers are met by state troopers and
Sheriff James Clark’s men. The state troopers are under orders from Gov. Wallace to stop the march.
The troopers begin to shove the marchers back toward the bridge and then start to beat them. The
marchers are also tear gassed. Sheriff Clark and his men also join in the beatings. The incident is
broadcast nationally on television and becomes known as “Bloody Sunday.” Later, Gov. Wallace says
that he did not intend for the troopers to act that way. The Rev. Andrew Young of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) recalls that he had to talk down many people who wanted to
strike back violently against the troopers and Sheriff Clark.
Chapter 5: A CALL
Following the violent confrontation that stopped the march from Selma to Montgomery, the SCLC
sends out a call to its friends to come to Selma. Clergy from around the country respond and arrive in
Selma. However, a federal court in Montgomery has issued an injunction banning any march until a
hearing can be held. There is pressure on the SCLC to march despite the injunction. On March 9,
1965, approximately 2,000 marchers again cross the Edmund Pettus bridge leading out of Selma. When
they are met by state troopers, the marchers hold a prayer session. They then turn around and return
over the bridge. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) accuses the SCLC and Dr.
King of selling out. That night in Selma a small group of ministers is attacked. The Rev. James Reeb is
hit with a club. His death two days later sparks national protest.
Chapter 6: THREE WORDS
Just over a week after Bloody Sunday, President Lyndon B. Johnson calls for a voting rights bill from
Congress. In his speech, he uses the term “we shall overcome.” The Rev. C.T. Vivian remembers cheering
upon hearing the president use that phrase. Rev. Vivian says that it was “victory like none other.”
Back in Alabama, members of SNCC are beaten when they try to confront Gov. Wallace. A federal
court lifts its injunction banning any march from Selma to Montgomery. In response to Gov. Wallace’s
continued refusal to provide protection to the marchers, President Johnson federalizes the Alabama
National Guard.
On March 23, 1965, 3,200 people gather in Selma for the journey to Montgomery. The marchers are
protected along the route by the Alabama National Guard under federal direction. Stokely
Carmichael of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) recalls how he sought out
people watching the march for possible membership in the new Black Panther Party. Although he is
under a death threat, Dr. King continues to lead the marchers toward Montgomery. After five days of
walking along the 54 mile route, 25,000 marchers enter Montgomery. Coretta Scott King calls it “a
beautiful thing.” John Lewis of SNCC recollects the awesome power of the march.

Episode 7: THE TIME HAS COME (1964-1966)
The Nation of Islam organizes in major cities across the United States. The leader of the Nation of
Islam, Elijah Muhammad, preaches discipline and self-respect. Malcolm X is introduced to
Muhammad’s teachings while in prison for burglary. Malcolm X later becomes a prominent
spokesman for the Nation of Islam. In a speech at a Harlem temple, Ossie Davis, an actor and civil
rights activist, remembers how Malcolm X expressed that “the time had come for blacks to stand up.”
Journalists Mike Wallace and Louis Lomax produce a show on the Nation of Islam titled, “The Hate
That Hate Produced.” The show includes an interview with Elijah Muhammad and clips of a fake trial
of the “white man” from a rally in Washington, D.C. In response to the show, Malcolm X gives a
speech humorously expressing how blacks are better than whites. Sonia Sanchez, a member of the
Congress for Racial Equality, provides her recollections of the power of Malcolm X’s speech. Alex
Haley discusses the process of working with Malcolm X on his autobiography.
Chapter 3: CONTRAST
The media emphasizes the contrast between the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) says that Malcolm X had a
different approach than the philosophy of nonviolence. Ossie Davis characterizes Dr. King’s efforts as
the “best face” of black America while Malcolm X was the outsider, the “other brother.” Elijah
Muhammad suspends Malcolm X from his role as spokesman for the Nation of Islam when Malcolm X
states that it was the climate of violence that killed President John F. Kennedy. Malcolm X subsequently
leaves the Nation of Islam and forms the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X became an orthodox Muslim. He made two trips to Africa
and met with several heads of African states. His intent was to make the US government defend its
treatment of black citizens on an international stage, according to Peter Bailey of the Organization of
Afro-American Unity. During a debate in Oxford, England, Malcolm X uses the term “any means necessary”
in the context of the fight for civil rights. This statement is very influential among young people,
especially members of SNCC who invite Malcolm X to Selma, Alabama, in early 1965.
During the night of February 14, 1965, Malcolm X’s home is bombed while he and his family sleep.
Alex Haley, the coauthor of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, remembers how the strain was affecting
Malcolm. In February 1965, Malcolm is fatally shot during a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in
Harlem. Ossie Davis provides his memories of the burial, stating that he was “proud to be black at that
moment.” Peter Bailey of the Organization of Afro-American Unity calls Malcolm “a master teacher”
and says that there is no greater loss for a community.
The teachings of self-reliance by Malcolm X are put into action by the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Lowndes County, Alabama, in 1965. Although the county is 80
percent black, there are no black public officials. The Lowndes County Freedom Organization is
formed as an alternative to the segregationist Democratic party in the state. The Freedom
Organization uses a black panther as a symbol. On May 3, 1966, blacks vote for the first time since
reconstruction in Lowndes County, and the Freedom Organization receives 900 votes. Soon after,
Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) defeats John Lewis for the leadership of SNCC.
James Meredith, the first black student at the University of Mississippi, stages the March Against Fear
from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, to get people to vote. On the second day of the
march, Meredith is shot in an ambush. Dr. King and other leaders vow to continue the march in
response. The younger marchers begin to emphasize power over the traditional concentration on
rights. The term “Black Power” becomes the slogan for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC) in Greenwood, Mississippi. This development causes John Lewis to leave SNCC.
Chapter 8: BLACK POWER
As SNCC begins to use the slogan “Black Power,” the media plays up the differences with the traditional
civil rights efforts. Cleveland Sellers recalls that SNCC wanted the March Against Fear to be indigenous—
not made up of the liberal armies from the North. The marchers are gassed and beaten when
they attempt to camp for the night in Canton, Mississippi. When the march is over, Dr. King says that
he has watched his dream turn into a nightmare but that he is still committed to nonviolent protest.
Approximately 4,000 new voters are added to the rolls in Mississippi during the march.
Episode 8: TWO SOCIETIES(1965-1968)
Chapter 1: MOVE NORTH
Chicago, Illinois, becomes the first northern city targeted by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). At the time, Chicago is the second
largest city in the United States and about one-quarter of the city’s residents are black, but many live
in slums or substandard housing. After reviewing the situation, housing is determined to be the critical
issue for the city’s black population. In response, the Chicago Freedom Movement campaigns to
eliminate the slums. However, Mayor Richard J. Daley and his political machine purposefully avoid a
direct confrontation with Dr. King and the Freedom Movement.
On July 10, 1966, Dr. King gives a speech at Soldier Field in Chicago defending his nonviolent tactics.
Following the rally at the stadium, 5,000 people march to city hall to present a list of demands to the
mayor. No agreement is reached, and two days later near rioting breaks out when fire hydrants are
turned off in black neighborhoods during a stifling summer heat wave. Although Dr. King and others
try to defuse the violent reaction, Mayor Richard Daley blames them for the violence.

The Chicago Freedom Movement takes the protests from the slum areas to the white neighborhoods
of Chicago. Despite the lack of overt segregation, there are many indications that discrimination is
rampant in the city. As resident Rosemary Porter states, somebody was making money when whites
sold their homes out of fear of a “changing” neighborhood—blacks bought at a premium, while
whites were sold new houses in the suburbs. The Freedom Movement’s protests in the white areas
exposed the vehemence of northern segregation, and the philosophy of nonviolence was tested again.
Local groups decide to march into Cicero.
Chapter 4: DETROIT
In 1967, Detroit is booming. The automobile industry is doing well, and there are many publicly funded
projects underway. The downside, however, is that black neighborhoods are either eliminated or
split up by the highway and urban renewal projects. Another problem is that the police force is 95 percent
white. Many black residents fear the “big four” police units that harass anyone hanging out on
the streets. On July 23, the police raid of a “blind pig” (an illegal after-hours club) triggers looting and
burning in downtown Detroit.
Twelve hours after the police raid of an illegal after-hours club, Michigan Gov. George Romney calls in
the national guard to stop the burning and looting in Detroit. More than 100 city blocks are involved in
the riot. Despite a 9:00 p.m. curfew, thousands of people remain in the streets. When the rioting continues
through the night, Gov. Romney requests federal assistance. President Lyndon B. Johnson is reluctant
to send in troops, but a compromise is reached allowing unarmed Army paratroopers to assist.
At least 19 people had been killed in the three days of rioting following the raid of an illegal afterhours
club in Detroit. The looting and burning subsides when Army paratroopers move into the city.
Soon after, a tentative peace is reached. In all, 43 people were killed and property losses were estimated
at $50 million. In response to the riots in Detroit and other cities, President Johnson appoints the
Kerner Commission to study the causes of the unrest. In its report, the commission finds that America
is becoming two societies—one black and one white—separate and unequal.
Episode 9: POWER!(1967-1968)

Carl Stokes runs for mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, the nation’s tenth largest city. The incumbent, Ralph
Locher, emphasizes law and order as the solution to the rioting that had recently beset urban areas.
Partly because an extensive voter registration effort, record numbers of the city’s black citizens vote in
the Democratic primary. Stokes, who is black, receives 96 percent of the black vote and 52 percent of
the citywide total, even though he had lost in the same primary two years earlier.

After winning the Democratic primary in Cleveland, Ohio, Carl Stokes could have been confident of victory
because 80 percent of the city’s voters were registered Democrats. However, many white voters
moved their support to Seth Taft, the Republican candidate. In a debate, Stokes makes the statement
that the only reason that Taft could win was because he was white. The statement alienates many white
voters in the city. Despite the fallout, Stokes is the first black man to be elected mayor of a large US city.

In 1966, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The symbol of
a black panther is taken from the Lowndes County Freedom Organization in Alabama. Initially, the
Black Panthers monitor police activities, such as arrests and detainments, to prevent brutality. The
Black Panthers also carry firearms for protection; a well-recognized right in California at the time.
When their right to carry weapons was challenged, they traveled to the state capital to confront
Gov. Ronald Reagan. Although they were not arrested on weapons charges, they were charged with
disturbing the peace.
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense starts a nationally distributed newspaper to promote its
views. In the paper and elsewhere, the Black Panthers characterize police officers as pigs to remove
some of the fear felt by members of the community toward the police. They also gain new chapters
across the country, and Eldridge Cleaver, who had a book published while in prison, becomes the
group’s minister of information. In addition, the party institutes food giveaways and a free breakfast
program for children. In February 1968, the leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating
Committee (SNCC) agree to join forces with the Black Panther Party. Huey Newton is convicted of
manslaughter in the death of a policeman, though the conviction is later overturned.
Black and Latino parents in New York City want more control over the education of their children.
In the Ocean Hill–Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York, a group of parents and community
leaders develop a plan decentralizing control over the local schools. The plan is praised by Mayor
John Lindsay. For the 1967/1968 school year, Ocean Hill–Brownsville becomes an experimental district
led by the first black unit administrator in the city’s history. Many younger black and Latino
teachers move to the experimental district from across the city. As the school year comes to a close,
however, the United Federation of Teachers strenuously objects to the transfer of veteran teachers
out of the experimental district. The disagreement eventually results in a strike by the city’s teachers.
The Ocean Hill–Brownsville experiment continues despite a strike by teachers across New York City.
The strike centers on the United Federation of Teachers’ objections to the community school board’s
proposed transfer of veteran teachers. Based on the community school board’s refusal to give up control,
the City’s Board of Education suspends the school board and relieves the unit administrator of
his duties. In response, thousands of city residents march on City Hall and then across the Brooklyn
Bridge to the Board of Education headquarters.
Episode 10: PROMISED LAND(1967-1968)
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has come to the realization that the war in Vietnam and the
war on poverty are inseparable. As Dr. King puts it, “Bombs in Vietnam explode at home.” In part
because the war in Vietnam is draining funding for President Johnson’s war on poverty, Dr. King
decides to come out against the war in Vietnam. This decision costs Dr. King the support he had previously
received from President Johnson. Dr. King’s subsequent public break with the president results
in personal attacks being directed at him instead of a debate on the merits of the war. In response,
Dr. King states that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
In 1967, one out of every seven Americans lives below the poverty line. There is even more widespread
poverty in the southern states. Marian Wright of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund invites a Senate
committee to tour poverty-stricken areas. The following day, she and Senator Robert F. Kennedy tour
the delta area of Mississippi. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is also searching
for a way to focus attention on the problem as well as avoid the violence that had occurred during previous
summers. When Wright suggests the idea of a “poor people’s march” on Washington, D.C. to her
friend Dr. King he supports it as an alternative to the rioting.
Dr. King and the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) begin preparations
for the Poor People’s Campaign. The staff members debate the proposed goals of the campaign and
their ability to deliver on any promises. As Dr. King turns 39 years old, he sets out to recruit support
and raise the funds for the campaign. In a speech and in talking with SCLC staff members, Dr. King
makes it clear that the campaign will require an extended effort if they are going to help alleviate
poverty in the nation.

In Memphis, Tennessee, sanitation workers call a strike after two black workers were killed while at
work. The city’s mayor, Henry Loeb, takes a paternalistic approach to the striking workers and refuses
to negotiate with the union. When the strike is two months old, Reverend James Lawson asks Dr. King
to come to Memphis. Although preoccupied with the Poor People’s Campaign, Dr. King agrees to
come. In his second visit to the city, the march he is leading turns violent. It is the first time a march
led by Dr. King has turned violent.
Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) return again to Memphis,
Tennessee, to prove that the strategy of nonviolence works. Despite Dr. King’s reluctance to speak at a
rally before the next day’s march, he appears when requested by Rev. Ralph Abernathy. In the speech,
Dr. King says that “he has seen the promised land” and that he “may not get there with you” but “we as
a people will get there.” After the march, Dr. King is shot and killed on his way to dinner with other
members of the SCLC.
After the death of Dr. King the SCLC channels its efforts into the Poor People’s Campaign. Five weeks
after the murder of Dr. King, the campaign’s marchers arrive in Washington, D.C. The marchers then
build “Resurrection City” on the National Mall between the Lincoln and Washington memorials. As
William Rutherford of the SCLC recalls, “The goal was to focus the attention of the world on poverty.”
However, the burden of running the temporary city strains the SCLC. The city is closed not long after
the shocking assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a close ally.
After winning an Olympic gold medal, Cassius Clay challenges Sonny Liston, the heavyweight boxing
champion. The brash, outspoken Clay is not given much of a chance against the experienced and
feared Liston. Clay, however, wins the fight and becomes the heavyweight champion. Within weeks
after the fight, Clay reveals his new name, Muhammad Ali, given to him by Elijah Muhammad, the
leader of the Nation of Islam.
Chapter 2: I HAVE GAINED
Against a background of escalating troop levels in Vietnam, Muhammad Ali is drafted into the US
armed services. Ali requests a deferment as a minister of Islam and a conscientious objector. He states
that “the enemies of my people are right here, not in Vietnam.” This stand costs him his eligibility to
fight in the United States. With his deferment denied, Ali refuses induction into the armed forces,
and he is subsequently sentenced to five years in prison. Although the conviction is later overturned,
he cannot enter a prizefight until the 1970s.
Chapter 3: ON CAMPUS
The shift in attitude in the civil rights movement during the late 1960s causes changes at Howard
University in Washington, D.C. As the student body becomes more in tune with the new ideals of selfdetermination
and black power, the university as an institution is slow to adapt. Robin Gregory’s campaign
for homecoming queen in October 1967 symbolizes the changes occurring at the university.
Chapter 4: MANIFESTO
Howard University students create a manifesto demanding the resignation of the university’s president
and the formal identification of the school as “a black university.” When there is no response to the
manifesto, 1,200 students take over the university’s administration building in March 1968. As Adrienne
Manns (class of 1968) recalls, “Howard should exist for the benefit of the black community.” The confrontation
ends peacefully within a week with an agreement between the students and the trustees.
Chapter 5: NATION TIME
The National Black Political Convention is held in Gary, Indiana, on March 10-12, 1972. Eight thousand
people came to the convention to debate and ratify a national agenda. Almost half of the attendees were
delegates from 48 states. Among the agenda items were full employment, peace, and justice. Richard
Hatcher, the mayor of Gary, remembers that his opening of the convention was a glorious moment.

The poet Amiri Baraka starts a debate on the National Black Political Agenda. The debate runs on
over the weekend with considerable discussion between subgroups of delegates. Although the walkout
by part of the Michigan delegation nearly derails the entire process, the coalition holds and the agenda
is adopted by the delegates. Reverend Benjamin Chavis states that the struggles of the previous
decades came to fulfillment with the cry for “nation time.”
Episode 12: A NATION OF LAW?(1968-1971)
Soon after Richard Nixon wins the 1968 presidential election, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issues
memoranda to field offices regarding counterintelligence programs against activist organizations.
When Nixon enters office the following January, Hoover expands the surveillance of the Black
Panther Party and other groups. In Chicago, a 20-year-old Fred Hampton leads the local chapter of
the Black Panther Party. An FBI memo labels the Panther’s free breakfast program for children as
“nefarious.” The FBI increases its efforts when it looks as if the Panthers are entering into an alliance
with a local street gang.
In late 1969, J. Edgar Hoover calls the Black Panther Party the number one threat to the nation’s
internal security. Elaine Brown, a former member of the party, recalls how Fred Hampton, the young
Black Panther Party leader, was able to motivate people, particularly street people, into working for
the party. Tension is increasing in Chicago following the trial of the Chicago 8 activists arrested during
the Democratic National Convention and a police shootout on the city’s south side.
Chapter 3: THE RAID
In the early morning hours of December 4, 1969, Chicago police conduct a raid on Fred Hampton’s
apartment. Deborah Johnson, who was sleeping next to Hampton at the time of the raid, provides her
account of that morning. Both Hampton and another member of the Black Panther Party, Mark
Clark, are shot and killed during the raid. Four of the seven survivors are wounded. All seven are
charged with assault and attempted murder. It is not long after the release of the official version of
events that many questions arise regarding the actions of the police during the raid.
Chapter 4: AN UPRISING
According to Angela Davis, a prisoner-rights activist, “the criminal justice system is intertwined with
the economic oppression of black people.” In upstate New York, harsh conditions exist for the inmates
of Attica Correctional Facility. Frank Smith, a former inmate, remembers having the job of “laundry
boy” even though he was far from a boy. In September 1971, a fight between inmates and guards
results in 1,200 inmates holding 39 hostages in one of the prison’s yards.
The inmates take control of Attica Correctional Facility. They demand impartial observers to witness
the negotiations with prison administrators. Such negotiations, however, are at an impasse
over the inmates claim for amnesty from charges arising from the takeover of the prison. The
atmosphere changes for the worse when word gets out that a guard who was wounded in the initial
struggle has died.

Chapter 6: ATTICA
On the fifth day of the Attica Correctional Facility uprising, the commissioner of corrections demands
an immediate release of the 39 hostages. When the inmates move some hostages to the catwalks above
the prison yard, state troopers enter the prison firing guns and tear gas. Of the 39 people killed in the
retaking of the prison, 29 are inmates and 10 are hostages. Gunfire from the troopers is responsible
for all of the deaths. The surviving inmates are moved into another yard, stripped of their clothes, and
made to crawl for a certain distance. Some of the inmates are selected to run a gauntlet of troopers
and guards.
Episode 13: KEYS TO THE KINGDOM(1974-1980)
Ten years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision desegregating public schools, the fight for
progress in the black community moves to Boston, Massachusetts. The public schools located within
majority black areas of the city are overcrowded, under-equipped, and poorly maintained. The school
system’s leadership, however, does not recognize that the segregated schools are inferior. Overcoming
this perception and creating a better educational environment is challenging because of the black
community’s lack of political influence.
Chapter 2: A SOLUTION
On June 21, 1974, a federal district court issues a decision finding that Boston had consciously maintained
two separate schools systems: one black and one white. As a solution to the disparity in the two
systems, the court orders that some students in each system are to be bused to schools in the opposite
school system. As the parents and the city officials prepare for the coming school year, resistance to
the changes is strong in the white areas of the city.
The integration of Boston’s public schools begins on September 12, 1974. It is a quiet first day in most
areas of the city, as students are bused to their new schools. In South Boston, however, a large crowd
gathers outside of the high school. When the buses carrying black students arrive, the crowd throws
eggs and rocks.
Chapter 4: ON ITS OWN
In October 1974, a black motorist is beaten in South Boston, a white area of the city. The controversy
over busing in the city continues and President Gerald Ford states he is against forced busing in his
first press conference as President. On December 11, 1974, a white student is stabbed by a black student
in a fight in South Boston High School. A crowd gathers outside the school demanding the
removal of the black students. The incident ends peacefully but polarizes the city. When the public
school leadership refuses to act, the federal court finds it necessary to run the school system.
In October 1973, Maynard Jackson becomes the first black mayor of a large southern city when he
wins the mayoral election in Atlanta, Georgia. He recalls combating the anxiety of white residents and
trying to live up to the high expectations of the city’s black residents. In order to draw attention to the
plight of the city’s poor during an extended recession, Mayor Jackson moves into public housing.

Mayor Jackson uses affirmative action to broaden participation in Atlanta’s public works projects.
Although the business community resists, he imposes a 20 percent minority participation requirement
on the new airport project. It takes a year of battling before the first minority contract is approved.
Mayor Jackson subsequently wins reelection in a landslide, and in 1980, a new international airport
opens on time and within the budget.
Chapter 7: BAKKE
In 1977, the rate of white students and black students going to college is equal for the first time. But
progress on this front is challenged when Allan Bakke sues the University of California-Davis because he
was not admitted to the medical school. The case eventually lands in the Supreme Court, which rules for
Bakke, finding that affirmative action in university admissions is permissible but not mandatory.
Episode 14: BACK TO THE MOVEMENT(1979-1983)
Chapter 1: OVERTOWN
Up until the early 1960s, Overtown is a majority black area on the northern side of segregated Miami,
Florida. When Miami expands and interstate highways are built, the close-knit community of
Overtown is destroyed. Approximately 50 percent of the community’s 20,000 residents are displaced
by the redevelopment efforts.
Arthur McDuffie is a well-regarded black businessman in the Overtown and Liberty City area of
Miami. One night in December 1979, he went for a motorcycle ride and was pursued by police after
allegedly running a red light. The police officers involved stated that McDuffie was injured when his
motorcycle crashed. After his death from injuries sustained that night, an autopsy revealed that he had
been severely beaten by the officers.
Chapter 3: ACQUITTAL
There is a great outcry in Miami after the death of Arthur McDuffie. The Dade County State Attorney
Janet Reno files charges against five of the police officers involved in McDuffie’s arrest accusing them
of second degree murder, manslaughter, and misuse of evidence. The venue for the trial is moved to
another section of the state, and an all-white, all-male jury is empanelled. On May 17, 1980, the jury
acquits the defendants on all of the charges. The verdicts set off protests and three days of rioting in
the Overtown and Liberty City community.
The response of Chicago’s Mayor Michael Bilandic to a 1979 snowstorm drives a new wave of activism
on the city’s south side. Mayoral candidate Jane Byrne finds significant support in that area and goes
on to win the election. But her decision two years later to live for a time in the Cabrini Green public
housing projects is not well-received in the community. She faces even more difficulty after she
appoints two white women to the city’s housing authority.
Chapter 5: COME ALIVE
In 1982, public aid recipients in Chicago organize a major voter registration drive in response to cutbacks
in assistance. In addition, a coalition of 20 community organizations forms to push the registration drive. When the coalition succeeds in getting 100,000 new voters registered, they also convince
Congressman Harold Washington to run for mayor.
The Democratic primary race for mayor of Chicago includes incumbent Jane Byrne, Harold
Washington, and Richard Daley. Although Byrne starts with a large lead, Washington quickly gains substantial
support in the city’s black community. On February 22, 1983, Washington wins the three-way
primary race with a very high turnout among the city’s black voters. He is elected mayor seven weeks
later in the general election.
Chapter 7: CODA
An overview of the civil rights movement from the struggle for justice in the 1950s and 1960s to the
continuing efforts in the 1970s and 1980s. The universality of the struggle is highlighted by clips from
China’s Tiananmen Square protests and other notable civil rights’ movements across the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s