One in this series of documentaries that examines the African-American civil rights movement. This program explores two events that exemplify the treatment of black Americans by the state and national governments during this period. The first event is the FBI raid on the house of Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, which was followed by his murder. The inception and development of the Chicago Black Panther Party is discussed by William O'Neal, an FBI informant; Elaine Brown, a Black Panther Party member; and Father George Clements, of the Holy Angels Church in Chicago. Among those who discuss the death of Fred Hampton in either interviews or film clips are Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther Party; Jerris Leonard, assistant U.S. attorney general from 1969 to 1971; Nancy Jefferson, executive director of the Midwest Community Council; Howard Saffold of the Chicago Police Department Afro-American Patrolman's League; Marion Stamps, community activist; Deborah Johnson of the Black Panther Party; Edward V. Hanrahan, state's attorney for Cook County; Bobby Rush of the Black Panther Party; Flint Taylor of the People's Law Office; the Reverend C. T. Vivian of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the Reverend Thomas Strieter; and Joseph LeFevour of the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago. The second event is the uprising at the Attica jail, which the program examines from the perspective of the prisoners. The jail was captured by the prisoners, and five days later the New York state troops attacked and took control of the prison.

This program features an emotional report by John Johnson during the assault; following the report, Monroe County Medical Examiner Dr. John Edland appears at a press conference, reporting that all the hostages who were killed had been shot by the state troops. Among those describing the situation from the prisoners' point of view are Frank "Big Boy" Smith, and Herbert X. Blyden, inmates in Attica in 1971. Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Russell G. Oswald, commissioner of corrections, appear in clips defending their actions. New York State Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve and Tom Wicker, associate editor of the New York Times, discuss their observations of the prison takeover, and Angela Davis, author and activist, discusses the rights of prisoners. Michael Smith, a hostage at the prison, discusses the ordeal, and his father, Stephen Smith, appears in a film clip of his vigil outside the jail. Elliott "L.D." Barkley appears in a film clip as he speaks to the press, and his mother, LaVerne Barkley, appears in an interview and describes her feeling that her son was later targeted to be killed. This episode concludes with pictures from both the hostages' funerals and the slain prisoners' funerals. The program also includes a clip of Amiri Baraka reading a short poem, and footage of speeches delivered by Richard Nixon. Acquisition and cataloging of this program was made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


  • DATE: February 19, 1990 Monday 9:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:57:47
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:17568
  • GENRE: Public affairs/Documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: African-American Collection - News/Talk
  • SERIES RUN: PBS - TV series, 1990


  • Henry Hampton … Executive Producer, Created by, Developed by
  • Alison Bassett … Coordinating Producer
  • Thomas Ott … Producer, Director, Writer
  • Terry Kay Rockefeller … Producer, Writer
  • Louis Massiah … Producer, Writer
  • Bennett Singer … Associate Producer
  • Judy Richardson … Associate Producer
  • Steve Fayer … Writer
  • Bernice Johnson Reagon … Theme Music by
  • Julian Bond … Narrator
  • Amiri Baraka
  • Barkley, Elliott "L. D."
  • LaVerne Barkley
  • Herbert X. Blyden
  • Elaine Brown
  • George Clements
  • Angela Davis
  • John Edland
  • Arthur O. Eve
  • Fred Hampton
  • Edward V. Hanrahan
  • Nancy Jefferson
  • Deborah Johnson
  • John Johnson
  • Joseph LeFevour
  • Jerris Leonard
  • Richard Nixon
  • William O'Neal
  • Russell G. Oswald
  • Nelson Rockefeller
  • Bobby Rush
  • Howard Saffold
  • Bobby Seale
  • Smith, Frank "Big Black"
  • Michael Smith
  • Stephen Smith
  • Marion Stamps
  • Thomas Strieter
  • Flint Taylor
  • C. T. Vivian
  • Tom Wicker