Henry Hampton

Henry Eugene Hampton Jr. (8 January 1940 – 22 November 1998) was an American filmmaker. He was the son of surgeon Henry Hampton Sr. and Julia Veva Hampton. Henry was raised on Laclede Station Rd. in Richmond Heights, Mo, a suburb adjacent to the western edge of the city of St. Louis. Henry lived on the eastern edge of an all black working class community. A native of Richmond Heights, Mo. Hampton would later move to Boston - to a large property at 88 Lambert Avenue in Roxbury where he founded his film production company Blackside, Inc., in 1968. It became one of the largest minority-owned non-theatrical film production companies in the U.S. during the mid-1970s and until his death in the late 1990s. Hampton and his company produced over 80 programs including documentaries, television spots, and other media productions.

Henry Hampton
Henry Eugene Hampton Jr.

(1940-01-08)January 8, 1940
DiedNovember 22, 1998(1998-11-22) (aged 58)
Alma materWashington University in St. Louis
Known for

In 1965, while working for the Unitarian church as information director, Hampton went to Selma, Alabama, to participate in the Selma March. The event changed his life as he recognized the power of media and television and began to conceptualize a film documenting the Civil Rights Movement. Three years later, in 1968, he founded Blackside, Inc., which offered "special expertise in the design and production of film and audio-visual products aimed at minority audiences."[1] Blackside's primary business between 1968 and 1979 was the production of films, television and radio spots, television programming, and audio-visual educational packages. Blackside also produced public service announcements and film-based training materials for government and commercial clients.[1]

Hampton made a commitment to social justice with later productions, including Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years (1954–1965); and Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965–mid 1980s; 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 (1999); Hopes on the Horizon: Africa in the 1990s (2001); This Far by Faith: African American Spiritual Journeys (2003).

Hampton's film archive is held by the Washington University Film & Media Archive in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to Hampton's films, the collection contains all of the elements that went into the production process such as interviews, stock footage, photographs, research, producer notes, scripts, and Hampton's personal papers.


Hampton attended Little Flower School[2] in the Richmond Heights neighborhood of St. Louis. He later attended St. Louis University High School before studying literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He graduated from Washington University in 1961 and returned to deliver the commencement speech to the graduating Class of 1989.[3][4] Hampton attended medical school for a term at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, before dropping out.

In 1977, the Harvard School of Design granted Hampton a Loeb Fellowship to study constitutional limitations and the nature of media and government information programs. His studies focused on consumers' and citizens' rights to information.

He was the recipient of over 10 honorary degrees including an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from his alma mater (1989); St. Louis University (1988); Doctor of Arts, Northeastern University (1988); Suffolk University (1988); Bridgewater State College (1989); Brandeis University (1993); Boston College (1993); Emerson College (1995); Lincoln University (1996) and Tufts University (1996).


  • America's War on Poverty (5-part series)
  • Boston Black United Front
  • Breakthrough: The Changing Face of Science in America (6-part series)
  • Code Blue
  • Crisis to Crisis: Voices of a Divided City
  • Easy Street
  • Eyes on the Prize (14-part series)
    • Eyes on the Prize I: America's Civil Rights Years 1954-1965
    • Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads 1965-1985
  • The Great Depression (7-part series)
  • Head Start to Confidence
  • Hopes on the Horizon: Africa in the 1990s
  • I'll Make Me A World: A Century of African American Arts (6-part series)
  • In Search of Help: Welfare or Survivor's Benefits
  • Kinfolks
  • Malcolm X: Make It Plain
  • This Far By Faith: African American Spiritual Journeys (6-part series)
  • Reorganizing the Nation's Hospitals (1975)


Hampton and Blackside won many major awards in television broadcasting. They were recognized by organizations in the fields of journalism, history, and the arts.


In addition to his work with Blackside Inc., Hampton was involved in a number of other organizations, including:


Hampton contracted polio as a child. In his later years, he had lung cancer, the treatment for which led to myelodysplastic syndrome. He died at Brigham and Women's Hospital on November 22, 1998.


  1. ^ a b A Different Way of Communicating; A Blackside publicity booklet (1974), in the Henry Hampton Collection, Washington University Film & Media Archive
  2. ^ "Home".
  3. ^ http://www.library.wustl.edu/units/spec/filmandmedia/collections/hampton/hampton_commencement.html[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-28. Retrieved 2009-06-30. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ The Heinz Awards, Henry Hampton profile

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