The Great Debaters

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  • Topic: The Great Debaters, Melvin B. Tolson, African American
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  • Published : October 22, 2010
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“The Great Debaters”

The Credits:
This motion film is called “The Great Debaters.” The movie which was released in 2007 is based on a true story but does not trumpet that fact in an opening caption, takes place on the campus of Wiley College during 1935. The movie is Directed by Denzel Washington and Produced by Todd Black, Kate Forte, Oprah Winfrey and Joe Roth. This film was inspired by the American Legacy article by Tony Scherman. Molly Allen Co-Produced the movies and the Executive Producers are Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein and David Crockett. Philippe Rousselot, afc/asc is the Director of Photography and David J. Bomba is the Production Designer. The movie was Edited by Hughes Winborne, a.c.e. The Cast of this film Denzel Washington as Melvin B. Tolson, Nate Parker as Henry Lowe, Jurnee Smollett plays the role of Samantha Booke, Denzel Whitaker is the young James Farmer Jr., while Forest Whitaker plays the role Dr. James Farmer Sr., John Heard plays Sheriff Dozier, and Kimberly Elise is the Pearl Farmer. This Film Genre is a Drama.

Denzel Washington

Summary:
In America today, we read and see so many unjust acts and even laws pass that seem so unfair to the minority groups. This could be related to the thesis of the Great Debaters, a film that is affirming and inspiring, and re-creates the stories of a remarkable team and its coach. It takes place on the campus of Wiley College during 1935. ”The Great Debaters” is about the team from little Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, a black institution in the Jim Crow South of the 1930s. The school's English professor, Melvin Tolson, a social activist and English professor forms a debate team. He holds grueling auditions of 45 students in a college of about 360 and selects four team members: Tolson's team is comprised of four very different individuals. Henry Lowe is s brash, outspoken young man whose years of reading have given him a wealth of knowledge about all topics. Samantha Brooke is the only woman on the team - she believes the experience will serve her well as she struggles to become the third female black attorney in Texas. James Farmer Jr. is a 14-year old prodigy whose is their researcher and strict work ethic is handed down from his father, a preacher and professor at Wiley. Finally, Hamilton Burgess is a conservative young man who shies away from controversy away from the debating stage. The movie mixes the interaction of these characters with each other and their families with their debating success and their struggles to attain a measure of fairness in a country where little is to be found.Denzel Washington

The movie is not really about how this team defeats the national champions. It is more about how its members, its coach, its school and community believe that an education is their best way out of the morass of racism and discrimination. They would find it unthinkable that decades in the future, serious black students would be criticized by jealous contemporaries for "acting white." They are black, proud, single-minded, focused, and they express all this most dramatically in their debating. The debaters themselves have one peculiarity: The Wiley team somehow draws the "good" side of every question. Since debaters are supposed to defend whatever position they draw, it might have been intriguing to see them defend something they disbelieve, even despise.

Denzel Washington
In this climate of overt racism, comprehensive systems of segregated elementary and high school education for African Americans, were created and sustained. Ashmore, (1954) describes this educational climate as “dismal”. African Americans were forced to compete with white schools for limited resources (Bond, 1939) and to confront perceptions that they did not need education or that they needed an education only for menial tasks Ashmore, (1954). (Walker, V.S. 2000, p. 258) It's one thing to tell people about the wounds in the...
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