Before Eyes on the Prize returns to PBS Oct. 2  for its first broadcast in 13 years, PBS.org will unveil a major website built around content from the seminal documentary series. The site will offer streamed historic video from key moments in the civil rights movement, including speeches of the Rev. Martin Luther King. Nearly two hours of clips in all will be accessible on the Web in perpetuity. In October, American Experience brings back Henry Hampton’s 1987 television series, which redefined the way Americans talked and learned about civil rights and social justice.
Henry Hampton, the visionary filmmaker who documented the history of the civil rights movement with the landmark PBS series Eyes on the Prize, died Nov. 22 . He was 58. Hampton recovered from lung cancer some nine years ago, but complications from the treatment that sent the disease into remission claimed his life. The official cause of his death was myelodysplasia, a bone-marrow disease.
In many ways, Orlando Bagwell’s work announced his arrival as a notable creative talent years ago, when he and a handful of mostly inexperienced, young producers collaborated with Henry Hampton on Eyes on the Prize, the civil rights series that made television history in 1987. The opportunity to work as a member of Hampton’s team “changed my whole life,” Bagwell recalled. A young father who made his living primarily as a cameraman for public broadcasting stations and producers, Bagwell had come to believe that path would take him through life — until Hampton offered him the chance to produce and direct his own films on the civil rights movement. Now, less than a decade after Eyes premiered, the 43-year-old producer’s credits include some of the most important films dealing with African-American history and culture that have aired on public television — most recently, “Frederick Douglass — When the Lion Wrote History” and “Malcolm X — Make It Plain.”
Bagwell finds himself at another crossroads, seeking and embracing new challenges so that he will continue to find gratification in his work. Having learned his craft in historical documentaries, Bagwell is stepping into performing arts programs, a form he explored as a producer/director for WNET’s Dancing miniseries.