The Great Debaters

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  • Topic: The Great Debaters, Wiley College, Melvin B. Tolson
  • Pages : 2 (765 words )
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  • Published : April 8, 2013
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Stephanie Geno
Great Debaters Essay
6 March 2013
The Great Debaters
Based on a true story, the movie The Great Debaters is about a four person debate team at the historically Black, Wiley College in Marshall, TX. This team made up of one girl, Samantha Booke, and three young men, James Farmer Jr., Henry Lowe, and Hamilton Burgess. They travel all over to compete against the top Black colleges in the country and are also the first African American college to compete against a White college and win almost every debate. This is not their ultimate goal; their goal is to take on Harvard, the reigning national champions. They have several struggles along the way and in this essay I will inform you of them but also how as a team, they overcame them.

Being an African American in 1935 was definitely hard. They had many struggles that today would be so uncommon, but they were allowed to attend college. Mr. Melvin Tolson is the head of the debate team at Wiley College and has to choose from 54 hopefuls and make his 47th annual debate team of four students. Samantha Booke is the first female to ever be on the Wiley College debate team and that in itself is a difficulty because she has to prove herself. James Farmer Jr. whom is fourteen years old is the youngest on the team and is the son of a preacher. He is raised in a very strict home and has to overcome his own insecurities with his self-confidence. Henry Lowe could be described as a “bad boy,” but he learns by being on the debate team about himself, and finally Hamilton Burgess is the returning team member from the last year’s team.

The team faces many challenges and the first is fairly rough. Mr.Tolson is suspected to be a leader of communists in the area and is abruptly taken into custody by local police. Luckily, James Farmer Sr. talks the sheriff into letting him go for fear that the Black people of the town may start a riot. Another challenge is when Hamilton quits the debate team because his...
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