Jon ElseProducer-cinematographer Jon Else will speak Sept. 13. (Photo courtesy of Lincoln Else)

Jon Else, producer and cinematographer for Eyes on the Prize, one of television’s most influential documentaries, kicks off the Friends of the Library’s 2017-18 Charles R. Martell Author Lecture Series with a talk Wednesday, Sept. 13. 

The four talks in the series – two this fall and two next spring – are free, open to the public, and begin at 3 p.m. at the University Library Gallery. Book signings will follow each author’s presentation.

Else will discuss his new book, True South: Henry Hampton and 'Eyes on the Prize,' the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement (Viking, 416 pages). Its January publication coincided with the 30th anniversary of the initial broadcast of what would become a 14-episode series on PBS.

Like Hampton, the documentary’s creator, Else was a civil rights worker in the American South during a part of the movement in the 1950s and ’60s. He now is a professor at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where this fall he’ll teach a videography course. The Robert Else Gallery at Sacramento State was named for his father, a longtime professor of art at the University.

Else’s lecture in September will serve as a walk-up to Sac State’s 50th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 campus visit, on Oct. 16. The civil rights leader addressed more than 6,000 people at Hornet Field just months before his assassination. To learn more about the University’s MLK 50th anniversary event, go

In addition to Eyes on the Prize, Else wrote, produced, and directed the documentaries Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven (1989) and Cadillac Desert: Water and the Transformation of Nature (1997). He has two Academy Award nominations and four Emmy wins.

More in the 2017-18 Author Lecture Series

Wednesday, Nov. 8 – Michael J. Fitzgerald, author of the environmental thrillers The Fracking War: A Novel (2014) and Fracking Justice (2015).

In The Fracking War, Fitzgerald introduces his protagonist, veteran journalist Jack Stafford, who leaves California for a newspaper job in upstate New York. There, Stafford encounters activists taking on multinational corporations that are extracting natural gas and oil with hydraulic fracking technology. In the sequel, Fracking Justice, Fitzgerald explores the idea that the federal government could silence energy-industry critics by labeling them “eco-terrorists.”

Fitzgerald is a professor emeritus of journalism at Sacramento State. His third novel, The Devil’s Pipeline, will be published next year. He’s worked as a magazine and newspaper journalist for more than 40 years and writes a weekly column for the Geneva, N.Y., Finger Lakes Times.

Thursday, Feb. 15 – Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, author of Sweet Freedom’s Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails, 1841-1869.

Moore, a professor emerita of history at Sacramento State, powerfully tells the true story of black overlanders – enslaved and free – who migrated westward during the mid-19th century. She traces their journey on the Mormon, California, Oregon, and other historic trails, writing about what they left behind and what they encountered along the way.

She also is the author of To Place Our Deeds: The African American Community in Richmond, California, 1910-1963 and co-edited, with Quintard Taylor, African American Women Confront the West, 1600-2000.

Thursday, April 5 – James C. Scott and Amanda G. DeWilde, who researched and wrote World War I and the Sacramento Valley. (The book’s listed author is Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library.)

Sacramento was quick to answer the nation’s call during World War I. Some of the first combat air units were trained at Mather Field, and local farmers filled food-supply orders for the Allies. With the menfolk off to war, local women worked at the Southern Pacific Railroad and Liberty Iron Works. Not all was quiet on the home front, however, as Liberty League members searched for spies and local police forced patriotic displays from suspected German sympathizers.

Scott is a reference librarian in the Sacramento Public Library’s Sacramento Room. He has written four other books about local history, including Sacramento’s Alkali Flat, and is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists. DeWilde is a special collections archivist in the Sacramento Room.


The volunteer group Friends of the Library supports the University Library by raising money for books, equipment, and materials. The Friends run the Book Bin, a small retail shop on the Library’s lower level. This year, the members added Martell's name to their lecture series. He spent 15 years at Sacramento State as librarian and dean of the University Library, founded Friends of the Library in 1992, and served as board president from 2010 to 2015. Martell died in 2016. 

The Author Lecture Series also is sponsored by the University Library, the Hornet Bookstore, Sacramento State Creative Services, and the University Library Gallery.

For a parking pass or more information about the Author Lecture Series, contact Sally Hitchcock at (916) 278-5954 or – Dixie Reid