Civil Rights Documentary

I am currently taking a Civil Rights Class and just today watched a documentary. It was one of several episodes of a documentary series and it is titled Eyes on the Prize: Mississippi: Is This America?

The film focuses on the crooked segregationist state of Mississippi, starting with the struggle and fight for voter registration and leads all the way up to the Freedom Summer of 1964. It starts out in 1962, where blacks outnumbered whites 4 to 1 in some counties, but were still denied the rights to vote. Therefore the NAACP, SCLC, SNCC, and CORE formed something known as the Council of Confederate Organization and started a voter registration project. They began devising a plan as well as protests in which blacks would eventually be able to register to vote. For whites, everyone who attempted to register, was registered. On the other hand, for blacks, some of those who tried to register were murdered, and mostly all others were denied. Moving forward, Medgar Evers was a Civil Rights Activist and member of the NAACP who became very involved in the bus boycotts. He organized a boycott of downtown buses in Jackson, Mississippi. Shortly after on June 12, 1963 Medgar Evers was shot in front of his home. He was rushed to the hospital and was pronounced dead 1 hour later at the age of 37. This story spread like rapid fire, yet no one was ever convicted of his tragic murder. The murder of Medgar` Evers sparked a flare in a local math teacher named Bob Moses, leading him to become director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee otherwise known as “SNCC, and join forces with other local activists in a high-risk voter registration drive. The efforts Moses began to make attracted the attention of many white Northern Students who wanted to help fight for the blacks rights to vote. Many whites who backed black progression were often punished. The controversy and fight for voting rights sparked riots and protests from whites who opposed desegregation and equal right for blacks as well. Now the film moves forward into 1964. On January 23, the 24th Amendment was ratified, which eliminated the poll tax which had been restricting minority groups from voting. When the summer arrived, an alliance of civil rights groups compiled of hundreds of blacks and whites began taking action in what would be known as the Mississippi Freedom Summer. Many violent actions were taken towards the volunteers of the Mississippi summer, some were even killed. Three volunteers named Michael Schwerner (white), Andrew Goodman (white), and James Chaney (black) went on an investigation of a church that burned down. They were later reported missing. 44 days later, after the FBI was tipped off, the three men were found dead and buried along the Mississippi River in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Although the men were killed, the Civil Rights movement and Mississippi Summer project still moved forward. On July 2nd, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which strengthened the federal government’s power to enforce equal voting rights and eliminated segregation as well as discrimination in public places. All the hard work had paid off, and progress in the Civil Rights movement had been made.

This was a very well made documentary film. Its the fifth episode of a series of documentary films pertaining to the same topic of Civil Rights. One thing that really brings the film to a new level is the use of raw footage during these times, which really allows you to feel the hatred towards blacks, and well as the tension between the two sides of the Civil Rights movement. Another aspect that really made the audience connect, was the interviews with the families of those who were killed during this time, as well as interviews years later with the people who actually participated in these movements and protests. Overall this was a very good and informative documentary film.

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