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The Great Debaters

  • Course: English 101
  • School: Howard Community College, MD
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THE GREAT DEBATERS The Great Debaters (2007) - IMDb chronicles the journey of Professor Melvin Tolson (Denzel Washington), a brilliant but volatile debate team coach who uses the power of words to shape a group of underdog students from a small African American college in the Deep South into a historically elite debate team. Summery Plot: Marshall, Texas, described by James Farmer, Jr. as "the last city to surrender after the Civil War," is home to Wiley College, where, in 1935-36, inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and his clandestine work as a union organizer, Professor Melvin Tolson coaches the debate team to a nearly-undefeated season that sees the first debate between U.S. students from white and Negro colleges and ends with an invitation to face Harvard University's national champions. The team of four, which includes a female student and a very young James Farmer, is tested in a crucible heated by Jim Crow, sexism, a lynch mob, an arrest and near riot, a love affair, jealousy, and a national radio audience. Review: "The Great Debaters" is a very fine film. It reminds me of what it means to be excellent, to stand for something good, to love, and to shine. The performances, or the cinematography, historical care, or directorship all lift it out of the ordinary. And in its difficult subject: racial tension and the education and discovery of values by the three young debaters from Wiley College, one of the oldest colleges in America, it creates real excitement and interest. But the real reason that this is a fine film lies in is its plea that in education lies the reasoning, the power, and the will to change history. That learning does not just lie in knowledge but also in applying that knowledge to better yourself, your world, and all of humanity. The very significant point of the film is at the end. I can forgive the slight drag here and there because the ending is magnificent and explains something crucial about American history by its finish. From an era...