Happy Birthday, Henry Hampton

20 Aug
Henry Hampton - Photo by Dave Henderson

Henry Hampton – Photo by Dave Henderson

“We did not choose particularly popular subjects. But we have to do it because without understanding the nature of history we are weakened in our approach in dealing with any current reality.” — Henry E. Hampton Jr.

Henry Hampton, born on August 19, 1940 in St. Louis, was an influential and innovative filmmaker who produced one of the most celebrated documentaries on the civil rights movement, Eyes on the Prize.

Hampton attended St. Louis University High School before studying literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He later moved to Boston and established his company Blackside, Inc., which quickly became the largest African-American-owned film production company of its time. On the anniversary of his birth, the Film & Media Archive would like to celebrate his numerous contributions to film, history, and culture.

Eyes on the Prize  won more than twenty major awards and attracted over 20 million viewers. . The Boston Globe praised the series as “one of the most distinguished documentary series in the history of broadcasting.” Those sentiments were echoed again when Eyes on the Prize was re-broadcast in the fall of 2006, attracting a new generation of viewers. The series has been in shown and taught in classrooms for over twenty years and remains the definitive series on the civil rights movement.

Hampton’s other documentaries include The Great Depression (1993), Malcolm X: Make It Plain (1994), America’s War on Poverty (1995), Breakthrough: The Changing Face of Science in America (1997), I’ll Make Me a World: A Century of African-American Arts (1998); Hopes on the Horizon (1999) and This Far by Faith (2003).

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