The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eyes On The Prize (an epic documentary series)

  • The Black Community
  • Inequality
  • Discrimination
  • Courage
  • Hatred
  • Injustice
  • Human Struggle
  • The Fortitude To Overcome It
Here we go with a Blaxploitation Pride exclusive. The lengths we go through to provide lost segments of an extinct cultural art form that is 70's film and music may go underappreciated by the majority yet revered by a select few diehard "Blaxploinatives" (you know who you be!).

As we surpassed 100 Films in the Blax-Movie department at the close of this historic year, it's only fitting we honor the victorious campaign from the next Commander In Chief Barack Obama by giving our loyalists the most comprehensive documentary on The Civil Rights Movement..... Eyes On The Prize.

'Eyes' executive producer and founder of reknowned production company Blackside Inc. Henry Hampton covered a human struggle on film his company would soon face after his untimely death in 1998.

In this 14-hour epic series, there was footage used from over 80 sources and 95 photography archives and use in upwards of 100 songs including the AOL-owned "Happy Birthday" which was written in 1893 (AOL was founded in 1983).

Quick story: Birch Tree Group Limited was hired by publisher The Summy Company to secure the copyright to "The Birthday Song". The song was a variation of "Good Morning To All" written by Patti and Mildred Hill who sang this jingle to kindergartners in the morning.

In 1990, the rights were sold to Time-Warner Corporation once they bought The Summy Company for $15 million. Eyes On The Prize debuted in 1988 to the highest critical acclaim garnering every award under the sun. In one of the episodes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was slightly dejected about the struggle when someone comes in with a cake singing "that song".

The word is AOL charges $10,000 for any performance of "Happy Birthday", an example being that included in "Eyes On The Prize". Mr. Henry Hampton died on November 22, 1998 of myelodysplasia. 27 days prior, both houses of Congress passed what is referred to as "The Mickey Mouse Protection Act" (ain't that some shit?) which extended copyright terms to 'corporate authorships' for an additional 20 years up to 120 years after the date of publication.

Corporate authorship copywritten works are locked and loaded throughout Eyes On The Prize, to the tune of $951,000 assessed for research costs and clearance fees. After Hampton's passing and the "new" Mickey Mouse act, the copyright holders of the most meaningful footage in that documentary saw to it those archives got buried for 11 years.

After The Ford Foundation kicked out some greenbacks to cover a large portion of the clearance fees, the project is still not only hard to obtain, but it in some respects is considered digital contraband in the file-sharing world.

You know what though? We don't give a damn (except only for a domestic wide re-release in the future from Blackside Inc). It's our duty here at Blaxploitation Pride to play our part in that struggle and this piece here is the award-winning subject taking place center stage.

Note: I attempted to capture some poignant photos to preview for the post but ended up snapping close to 60 photos and that was just THE FIRST EPISODE.

Get in to this. One million dollars worth of copyrights but priceless in the freezing of such a flammable time of social bravery in the fight for justice and equal opportunity such as someday running for President and possibly winning that race. (We ain't playin' up in here!!)