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This was the first I’d heard of anyone who’d prefer all civil rights documentaries were in full color instead of much of it being in black-and-white. However, this inspired me to search through Twitter and I found it’s a fairly widespread feeling, as is the feeling Karen expressed that editing the documentaries in black-and-white may have been done on purpose to make people feel more distant from the events.
This led me to ask around to see if other people I knew directly felt that way, because I know I was the weird kid who grew up with a black-and-white TV in the 1980s, and to this day I have my “you know, I really wanna see some monochromatic movies right now!” moments. I did talk to both a photographer friend who discussed using black-and-white for stylization purposes, and another who agreed with the audience-appeal potential of digitally colorized footage depicting history.
I also saw people wondering if the pictures were taken in color and desaturated on purpose. Thing is, back in the 1960s and before, most on-location news footage was in black-in-white because color film was expensive and hard to light for. There is some color CIvil RIghts news footage available; a lot of it is in the HBO documentary KING IN THE WILDERNESS, for example.
As for digitally colorizing it? It’s been used on a few documentaries recently, but back when EYES ON THE PRIZE was made in 1987, film colorization was both extremely controversial (Congressional hearing controversial) and gave uneven results. Even today, it’s beyond what most documentary productions can afford to do (you have to hire a VFX studio to do it for you), and there’s still controversy over whether it’s considered tampering with history (more coverage: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-did-1920s-look-color-180963882/). As far as Hollywood feature-films are concerned, studios were basically shamed out of doing widespread colorization (by, again, those Congressional hearings and a very angry Roger Ebert: https://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/casablanca-gets-colorized-but-dont-play-it-again-ted), so with few exceptions (IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, for example) only the movies actually filmed in color are shown in color nowadays (GONE WITH THE WIND and THE WIZARD OF OZ, for example, filmed in the old Technicolor process, as were most old cartoons).