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True South: Henry Hampton and "Eyes on the Prize," the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement
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“[TRUE SOUTH] does several things at once. On one level, it’s a biography . . . On another, it’s a lucid recap of many of the signal events of the civil rights movement . . . A warm and intelligent book.”—The New York Times
 
“No one is better suited to write this moving account of perhaps the greatest American documentary series ever made. . . . [Else] tells the story with the compassion and eloquence it deserves.”Adam Hochschild, author of KING LEOPOLD’S GHOST, BURY THE CHAINS, and TO END ALL WARS
 
The inside story of Eyes on the Prize, one of the most important and influential TV shows in history. Published on the 30th anniversary of the initial broadcast, which reached 100 million viewers.
 
Henry Hampton’s 1987 landmark multipart television series, Eyes on the Prize, an eloquent, plainspoken chronicle of the civil rights movement, is now the classic narrative of that history. Before Hampton, the movement’s history had been written or filmed by whites and weighted heavily toward Dr. King’s telegenic leadership. Eyes on the Prize told the story from the point of view of ordinary people inside the civil rights movement. Hampton shifted the focus from victimization to strength, from white saviors to black courage. He recovered and permanently fixed the images we now all remember (but had been lost at the time)—Selma and Montgomery, pickets and fire hoses, ballot boxes and mass meetings.
 
Jon Else was Hampton’s series producer and his moving book focuses on the tumultuous eighteen months in 1985 and 1986 when Eyes on the Prize was finally created. It’s a point where many wires cross: the new telling of African American history, the complex mechanics of documentary making, the rise of social justice film, and the politics of television. And because Else, like Hampton and many of the key staffers, was himself a veteran of the movement, his book braids together battle tales from their own experiences as civil rights workers in the south in the 1960s.
 
Hampton was not afraid to show the movement’s raw realities: conflicts between secular and religious leaders, the shift toward black power and armed black resistance in the face of savage white violence. It is all on the screen, and the fight to get it all into the films was at times as ferocious as the history being depicted. Henry Hampton utterly changed the way social history is told, taught, and remembered today.
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Street Date:
01/24/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781101980958
ASIN:
B01FEY5CIQ
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APA Citation (style guide)

Jon Else. (2017). True South: Henry Hampton and "Eyes on the Prize," the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Jon Else. 2017. True South: Henry Hampton and "Eyes On the Prize," the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement. Penguin Publishing Group.

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Jon Else, True South: Henry Hampton and "Eyes On the Prize," the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement. Penguin Publishing Group, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Jon Else. True South: Henry Hampton and "Eyes On the Prize," the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement. Penguin Publishing Group, 2017.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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“[TRUE SOUTH] does several things at once. On one level, it’s a biography . . . On another, it’s a lucid recap of many of the signal events of the civil rights movement . . . A warm and intelligent book.”—The New York Times
 
“No one is better suited to write this moving account of perhaps the greatest American documentary series ever made. . . . [Else] tells the story with the compassion and eloquence it deserves.”Adam Hochschild, author of KING LEOPOLD’S GHOST, BURY THE CHAINS, and TO END ALL WARS
 
The inside story of Eyes on the Prize, one of the most important and influential TV shows in history. Published on the 30th anniversary of the initial broadcast, which reached 100 million viewers.
 
Henry Hampton’s 1987 landmark multipart television series, Eyes on the Prize, an eloquent, plainspoken chronicle of the civil rights movement, is now the classic narrative of that history. Before Hampton, the movement’s history had been written or filmed by whites and weighted heavily toward Dr. King’s telegenic leadership. Eyes on the Prize told the story from the point of view of ordinary people inside the civil rights movement. Hampton shifted the focus from victimization to strength, from white saviors to black courage. He recovered and permanently fixed the images we now all remember (but had been lost at the time)—Selma and Montgomery, pickets and fire hoses, ballot boxes and mass meetings.
 
Jon Else was Hampton’s series producer and his moving book focuses on the tumultuous eighteen months in 1985 and 1986 when Eyes on the Prize was finally created. It’s a point where many wires cross: the new telling of African American history, the complex mechanics of documentary making, the rise of social justice film, and the politics of television. And because Else, like Hampton and many of the key staffers, was himself a veteran of the movement, his book braids together battle tales from their own experiences as civil rights workers in the south in the 1960s.
 
Hampton was not afraid to show the movement’s raw realities: conflicts between secular and religious leaders, the shift toward black power and armed black resistance in the face of savage white violence. It is all on the screen, and the fight to get it all into the films was at times as ferocious as the history being depicted. Henry Hampton utterly changed the way social history is told, taught, and remembered today.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        November 7, 2016
        Else, an accomplished documentarian, chronicles the making of the 1987 TV civil rights documentary Eyes on the Prize, created by Henry Hampton, in this ambitious, sweeping chronicle. Hampton emerges as a charismatic leader whose vision was inspiring enough to draw in an amazing team despite his scattered management style. Else, a producer on the series, also describes his own time participating in the 1960s civil rights movement as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In recounting how Hampton and his colleagues treated various turning points—the murder of Emmett Till in 1954 and of three civil rights workers in 1963; the 1955–1956 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott; the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches; and many more—Else finds a new perspective on famous events. In effect, the reader gets to ask the same narrative questions as the documentarians, and feel the same mixture of satisfaction and disappointment when one narrative avenue is chosen over another. Footage isn’t unavailable or is mislabeled; eyewitnesses die or exaggerate or don’t want to speak at all. Doubtless there were struggles in Prize’s making that Else doesn’t cover, but his account feels thorough and important as a part of both social and documentary film history. Agent: Flip Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        November 1, 2016
        Memoir, history, and biography meld in this account of the creation of a famed civil rights documentary.Producer and cinematographer Else (Journalism/Univ. of California Graduate School of Journalism), a MacArthur Fellow whose honors include several Peabody awards and four Emmys, offers a revealing chronicle of the making of the 1987 PBS series Eyes on the Prize. The author became involved in the civil rights movement in 1963 when he was a 19-year-old college student and took up political activist Allard Lowenstein's challenge to "draw fire and publicity in Mississippi" by registering black voters. John Kennedy and Medgar Evers had just been shot, and Else was filled with "missionary zeal." In 1964, he left school to work in Mississippi full time, courting danger in an area where the Ku Klux Klan flourished. Twenty years later, responding to an article in a Corporation for Public Broadcasting newsletter, he "cold-called" Henry Hampton, involved in a project to produce a TV series about the civil rights struggle. Else characterizes Hampton, who had joined the NAACP as an undergraduate at Washington University and who stood with Martin Luther King Jr. on the Pettus bridge in Selma, as nothing less than a genius, a "visionary leader" who "insisted on a bold multicultural, multiethnic, collaborative production process" that involved men and women, blacks and whites: "For him, diversity in teams trumped the powerful statement that an all-black production would have made." Hampton also privileged the voices of ordinary men and women who participated in the movement rather than focus on people and images that had, by 1985, become iconic. Hampton viewed the civil rights movement "as a patriotic story of America's realization of its ideals" and wanted white Americans to react positively to it. In detailing the financial struggle involved and the arduous process of finding interviewees and eliciting their stories, Else reveals the complexities of any such production. An illuminating look at racial strife and TV history.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        December 1, 2016

        In 1987, Henry Hampton's landmark television series, Eyes on the Prize, premiered on PBS, mixing archival footage with current interviews on the U.S. civil rights movement. The series changed documentary filmmaking and the country's understanding of the movement. Yet, the production of the series pushed Blackside, Inc., Hampton's film company in Boston, to its limits. Cinematographer Else (journalism, Univ. of California, Berkeley) has written a history of the making of the groundbreaking film in time for its 30th anniversary. Chapters move between Else's time working with the civil rights movement and his work on the documentary, where he revisited some of the worst atrocities of racism in the 20th century. While this book provides insight into the work of rediscovering forgotten stories from the movement, Else does not shy away from controversies such as the intellectual property lawsuits that were filed by the Martin Luther King Jr. estate. VERDICT This mix of memoir, civil rights history, and film history provides another layer to the unforgettable series it documents.--John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from December 15, 2016
        Distinguished documentarian and MacArthur fellow Else has written a hard-driving, avidly detailed, and dramatic history of the making of Eyes on the Prize, the pioneering 1987 television documentary series about the civil rights movement. His uniquely knowing account is powered by his adventures as series producer and enriched by his vivid and admiring portrait of Henry Hampton (194098), the visionary genius and polio survivor who created the series. Their close working relationship was rooted in their experiences working in the early voter-registration efforts in the South. Else crisply illuminates Hampton's mission to focus on the ordinary African Americans who refused to be victims of racism and were, instead, courageous and strategic agents for change. Hampton's radical and progressive innovations extended to his production company, and Else tracks the racist, sexist, political, and financial obstacles confronting Hampton's multicultural, gender-equal, chronically underfunded, talented, and committed staff. In his seemingly frame-by-frame account, Else covers the evolution of American historical television documentaries while telling riveting tales of the epic research, endless production difficulties, and sensitive aesthetic choices that resulted in the triumphant success and lasting influence of Eyes on the Prize. With its many hooks and avenues, compelling portraits, and thought-provoking revelations, this in-depth chronicle of the making of a defining civil rights documentary is an invaluable and timely work.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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“[TRUE SOUTH] does several things at once. On one level, it’s a biography . . . On another, it’s a lucid recap of many of the signal events of the civil rights movement . . . A warm and intelligent book.”—The New York Times
 
“No one is better suited to write this moving account of perhaps the greatest American documentary series ever made. . . . [Else] tells the story with the compassion and eloquence it deserves.”Adam Hochschild, author of KING LEOPOLD’S GHOST, BURY THE CHAINS, and TO END ALL WARS
 
The inside story of Eyes on the Prize, one of the most important and influential TV shows in history. Published on the 30th anniversary of the initial broadcast, which reached 100 million viewers.
 
Henry Hampton’s 1987 landmark multipart television series, Eyes on the Prize, an eloquent,...
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True South Henry Hampton and Eyes on the Prize the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement
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