Unedited interviews of footage from the groundbreaking civil rights documentary "Eyes on the Prize" will be preserved, thanks to a $550,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to Washington University:
The original documentary film and interview footage were donated to the University Libraries in 2001 as part of the Henry Hampton Collection. The collection is one of the largest archives of civil rights media in the United States and contains materials on other topics as well.
“Hampton’s Eyes on the Prize remains the definitive work on the American civil rights movement, even more than 20 years after its release,” says Shirley K. Baker, vice chancellor for scholarly resources and dean of University Libraries. “With the generous assistance of the Mellon Foundation, Washington University can continue to protect and preserve these priceless archives for students, scholars and the general public for generations to come.”
Among those interviewed for the documentary were Curtis Jones, cousin of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American boy murdered in Mississippi in 1955; Coretta Scott King, wife of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Burke Marshall, head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice during the Kennedy administration. The footage from all these interviews and many more is held at the Film & Media Archive, a unit of the University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections.
“These records are a crucial part of Americans’ cultural history and heritage,” says James E. McLeod, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and vice chancellor for students. “This partnership between Washington University and the Mellon Foundation ensures that both the documentary itself, along with the interviews that gave life to its stories, will always be available as a source of information and inspiration.”