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Washington University Film & Media Archive

Tribute to Henry Hampton

Henry Hampton with Marian Wright Edelman during her interview for Eyes on the Prize II

On the very first page of his book Voices of Freedom, Hampton addresses the reader "We are privileged in this life, if we are given the opportunity to do important work...work that touches our fellow human beings in a positive and uplifting way." Writing about the recently completed Eyes on the Prize series, Hampton acknowledges the significance of his project, which chronicles the history of the civil rights movement from 1954 to the mid-1980's, and the stories of those individuals who led, organized, and were caught up in the extraordinary events of those times. Hampton and his team at Blackside were cognizant of the importance of their work and the powerful lessons of this history was not lost on them, as evidenced by the meticulous detail in which they gathered their stories and documented their processes.

Henry Hampton editing film

As Hampton felt privileged, we at the Film & Media Archive similarly feel privileged to have the opportunity to do the important work of preserving his collection. It is amazing to run down the exhaustive list of awards, doctorate degrees, and recognition bestowed upon Hampton in his lifetime. However, to spend a day of organizing, processing, or conducting research in his collection can overwhelm you, yet it is only then can his achievements truly be appreciated. Few people who spend any significant time in the archive are not affected and inspired by the power of the materials he has gathered and created. Hampton put excellence and innovation at the forefront of his work and he challenges us, by himself taking on the challenge of "doing difficult history" to take action to make a difference.

The thoroughness and thoughtfulness that went into a Hampton/Blackside production is evident in the materials that make up his archive. Like Voices of Freedom, which came about because only a fraction of the materials that Hampton gathered could be used in the finished televised program, his collection demands continual assessment and generation of resources that inform, inspire, and move people.

It is in this vein in which this page will be used. While first conceived to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Hampton's untimely death, it will continue in the future to celebrate his life and work. Each month the page will spotlight audio, video, or photos which exhibit some aspect of Hampton's work and genius.

hampton_portrait_proofs1 (40K)

Henry Hampton's Commencement Speech at Washington University

Hampton was granted an Honorary Degree from his alma mater and delivered the commencement speech at Washington University on May 17, 1989. Click the link above to read the speech.


Henry Hampton and His Legacy

A speech presented by Bob Hohler, friend and colleague of Henry Hampton, for the University Libraries National Council Meeting on September 20, 2002. This speech conincided with the opening of the Film and Media Archive and is a moving tribute to Hampton. Hohler talks of meeting Henry Hampton, their work together, and Hampton's determination to document the Civil Rights Movement, culminating in Eyes on the Prize.


Transcript of Keynote Address by Julian Bond

Graham Chapel, Washington University in St. Louis
6 p.m., September 20, 2002

Julian Bond delivered the keynote address for the opening fo the Film and Media Archive. Bond talked about his work with Hampton on Eyes on the Prize, and the continuing significance of Hampton's work. The opening remarks were delivered by Shirley K. Baker, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Dean of University Libraries, and Gerald Early, Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and Professor of English and African and African-American Studies introduced Mr. Bond.


Henry Hampton on KETC's Living St. Louis

KETC's Living St. Louis produced a segment on Henry Hampton which aired on November 28, 2007. The program covered Hampton's life and work and the home of collection, Washington University's Film and Media Archive.

Producer Patrick Murphy profiles the life and work of film-maker Henry Hampton, who made the PBS series Eyes on the Prize. This 14-hour documentary examines the African American struggle for civil rights. Washington University built an archive for Hampton's footage which includes nearly 75,000 items.


A video produced by Washington University's Film and Media Archive introducing the Henry Hampton Collection, and its contents including film, video, manuscript and research materials.