Henry Hampton, creator of Blackside Inc. and director of Eyes on the Prize.
Poster for America, They Loved You Madly: The Civil Rights Years, an early production effort by Blackside, which eventually became Eyes on the Prize. The project was funded by Capital Cities. Photo courtesy of the Henry Hampton Collection, Washington University Libraries.
In 1979, Henry Hampton contracted with Capitol Cities Communications, a nationwide media corporation, to create a 26-part series of half-hour episodes that would tell the history of the civil rights movement. He called it America, They Loved You Madly, after Duke Ellington’s favorite farewell salute. He and a small team gathered interviews and archival footage, but when Cap Cities representatives saw their early rough cuts, they were not impressed. The partnership quickly ended, and it appeared that Henry Hampton’s chance to create an epic civil rights film was finished.