A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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. Themes include compassion, integrity, and perseverance.
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Racial taunts -- including the "N" word and other forms of the slur, as well as "cracker" -- are heard throughout.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Eyes on the Prize is a powerful documentary that 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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This documentary series is wonderfully narrated by Julian Bond and peppered with feisty first-person accounts from the people who lived it. 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. Eyes on the Prize brings a crucial part of America's recent past to life.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.