The Great Debaters Essay

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The Wiley college debate team is one of the most well known debate teams in America. In 1997 Tony Scherman wrote an article for the American Legacy. This article brought a lot of new attention to the debate team. This article became so popular that a documentary was made in 2005 by AMS Pictures. But without a doubt most of the popularity came from the 2007 movie produced by Oprah Winfrey, The Great Debaters. This movie was a big hit with almost everyone, it was a very educational video about everything that the African American race had to go through in the south. This movie not only educated the adults of America but also the younger generation, the younger generation don't usually watch documentaries, so this movie was a great eye opener for many. In this movie Denzel Washington plays as Melvin B. Tolson, and Denzel Whitaker plays as James L. Farmer, Jr., the 14 year old prodigy child. Jurnee Smollett-Bell who played as Samantha Booke is slightly based on Henrietta Bell Wells. The two other debaters are fictional, and there was no female on the team in 1935 when they competed against University of Southern California, not Harvard University. The real names of the two other people that were on the debate team are Hobart Jarrett and Henry Heights. In reality the team traveled west, not north to debate all-white colleges.
The Great Debaters takes place in Marshal Texas, and most distinctly, Wiley college. Wiley college is an all-black college. This college became very popular when Melvin B. Tolson had tryouts for the debate team and out of 72 people only four were selected. These for people were very different from one another personality wise, which created great synergy for the debate team. Throughout the movie one person quits the team and all other members come very close to leaving, but end up staying at the end. They then went on to defeat multiple white colleges with Harvard university being the best college in America. This movie's main character, Melvin B. Tolson, is very active with the communities, which end up helping the debate team but also hurting it at the same time.
The main character of this movie is professor Melvin B. Tolson. Melvin was an English professor that also taught speech. He was considered one of the best teachers at Wiley College. Melvin started his debate team in 1935 and began tryouts at his home. He vigorously tested all of the 72 applicants and picked Henry Lowe and Hamilton Burgess as the two main speakers, he then selected James Farmer Jr and Samantha Booke as the backup and researchers. Aside from being a teacher in English and speech Melvin was also the leader of a Union in the town of Marshall, Texas. Melvin is also believed to have ties with the communist party. Prof of this would be when he was having dinner with his debate team and Hamilton Burgess asks him if he has relations with the communist party, because if he does his father will make him quit the team. Melvin does not confirm or...

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