Emily

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Intro:
As a society, people are quick to draw conclusions about certain individuals based on their physical appearance. Many times, it is a misconception of what the individuals being judged are actually like. While searching for a movie that demonstrates individuals’ behavior and their positive or negative interaction within a society, I came across The Great Debaters. The Great Debaters was an inspiring movie that exemplified struggle as well as determination to overcome challenges placed by ignorant and closed minded individuals. It is a motivational movie that proves that anything is possible. What mainly interested me to this movie is the fact that just because one is viewed as less than others, change is always possible through hard work. Summary:

The Great Debaters is a movie that involves the harsh reality of racism during the 1930’s through 1960’s. Racism has always been an everlasting damaging problem in humanity. It is not only the belief that one racial group is superior over another but also the belief that if an individual possesses certain qualities then that individual is considered worthless therefore they should be subordinates to the other group. During a time of separation within a nation, four individuals demonstrated that importance and strength behind knowledge. In The Great Debaters, three young college individuals were led by a knowledgeable professor in a debate team. Mr. Tolson was a strong willed individual who stood up for what he believed. He taught these acute students how to be proud, confident, and intellectual. They became resourceful and discussed many topics other people were unwilling to talk about. The debaters not only struggled to remain unified they also had to deal with the harsh reality of racism in the South from witnessing unfair treatment of the law to a lynching of an African American. Through his rigorous teaching methods and their determination to be the best, Mr. Tolson led the debaters to become the first all black college to debate a white university and beat the prestigious dominant debate school of Harvard University. Theory:

Theories are a set of interrelated propositions that attempt to describe or explain a phenomenon. One can apply any of the three theoretical approaches throughout The Great Debaters. To approach this from a structural-functional perspective, or to look at this from the mindset that “society is a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability” (Macionis 13), one has to view how the society interacts. The Great Debaters took place during a time period where racism was dominant. During this time in the South, there were unwritten rules which many African Americans had to conform to in order to avoid conflict and maintain a balance within society. While driving his family down a dirt road, Dr. James Farmer Sr. accidently hit and killed a farmers pig. The owner of the pig happened to be a white male who immediately ran out his house with a pistol and demanded payment. Seeing that Dr. Farmer was an African American male, the white farmer demanded an unrealistic amount of twenty-five dollars. Fearing for his family’s safety, Dr. Farmer offered to write over his monthly check from Wiley College to the farmer. The farmer not only took the check but also made Dr. Farmer help him load the pig onto his truck. Dr. Farmer knew the pig wasn’t worth that much money but in order to avoid a confrontation that could have possibly placed his family’s life in danger; he opted to give up everything he had. This relates to the structural approach in the fact that each group knew the reality of how society was functioning so they chose to behave in the manner that made society work.

Social-conflict approach or the thought that “society is an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change” (Macionis 15), was presented when the sharecroppers had a peaceful and lawful gathering in attempt to unionize...
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