Eyes on the Prize



Award-winning history of the American Civil Rights movement.
  • Review Date: February 13, 2011
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 360 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The ultimate "prize" is freedom. Passive resistance and non-violence, even in the face of great cruelty, is an effective and powerful way to achieve change. It takes men and women of courage to make even the smallest inroads into a culture of deeply ingrained prejudice. Such bigotry may not completely disappear for generations, if ever.

Positive role models

Powerful role models and heroes emerged among both African-American people and white supporters in the South. Efforts to engage in a non-violent struggle illustrate courage, patience, and optimism in spite of numerous challenges and risks. On the negative side, many Southern government officials (all white) -- including governors, senators, and sheriffs -- are revealed as bigoted, steeped in the prejudices of the past, and even murderous in some instances.


Newsreel footage shows white Southern citizens demonstrating and exhibiting cruelty toward African-American children and adults. Numerous photographs depict the aftermath of lynchings, with dead men hanging from trees or scaffolding. Sequences include rioting, Ku Klux Klan gatherings, police brutality, and racially motivated beatings.

Not applicable

Racial taunts -- including the "N" word and other forms of the slur, as well as "cracker" -- are heard throughout.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this powerful documentary depicts real-life racial violence, cruelty, bigotry, and name-calling. The fact that these events are true history might be more disturbing to kids and teens than fictional fare. There are scenes and images of African Americans being victimized by their white neighbors, including riots, beatings, the results of lynchings, murder, and general injustice. In addition, Southern government officials deliver angry tirades against the African Americans in their communities, describing them as less than full human beings and using multiple racial slurs, including the "N" word. However, for mature kids and teens, this film is an even-handed, solid, and accurate record of this crucial time in the history of America.

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

EYES ON THE PRIZE is a six-hour documentary that first aired on PBS in 1987 and won multiple Emmy Awards. The film uses personal testimony and newsreel and archival footage, as well as the overview of modern historians, to tell the story of the American Civil Rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Divided into one-hour segments, the film deals with the key events and crises that impacted and changed the racial landscape of the American South. From the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till for "talking fresh to a white woman" to Rosa Parks' courageous refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., and the bus boycott that followed; from the forced integrations of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., and the University of Mississippi to the Martin Luther King, Jr.-led march on Washington; from the heroic efforts of African Americans and whites working together to register new voters to the bloody march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, each hour offers an in-depth look at this monumental time in U.S. history.

Is it any good?


Watching early film of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a 26-year-old clergyman at the beginning of his historic odyssey and seeing the young, future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall just after his victory in Brown vs. the Board of Education are highlights in a film that consistently strives for excellence, integrity, and clarity. It's a fascinating, emotional journey marked by moments of sadness, disgust, pride, and ultimately joy. Wonderfully narrated by Julian Bond and peppered with feisty first-person accounts from the people who lived it, Eyes on the Prize brings a crucial part of America's recent past to life.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about bigotry in the United States today. How much further have we come since the days of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement of the mid-1900s?

  • Are there groups in the U.S. today that are being persecuted and treated unjustly or are in danger of that?

  • Many documentaries are made with a specific point of view or political position. What resources do audiences have to find out what those points of view or positions are? How do we know when we can trust the information that's being presented?

Movie details

DVD release date:April 6, 2010
Cast:Julian Bond
Director:Henry Hampton
Studios:Blackside, PBS Home Videos
Run time:360 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Eyes on the Prize was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bymcm29 July 21, 2015

Must Watch

Until I saw this documentary, I did not understand the savagery of white racism in America. Seeing real film footage of the racist insanity literally made me weep. From the gut-wrenching story of Emmett Till to the Boston busing crisis, it broke my heart. Black people already know this history. If you are white, even if you are an adult, you had better get a copy from the library and and sit down to watch.
What other families should know
Great role models


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?
Thanks – we appreciate your feedback!

Star Wars Guide