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The Great Debaters
Transcript of The Great Debaters
Setting & Characters
Plot and Conflict
Resolution & Reflection
1935 in Marshall,TX
Segregation & Jim Crow Laws existed
Melvin B. Tolson
Teacher/Coach who taught students/debate team to rise about adversities through education.
Melvin Tolson became a world renowned poet. He continued his work with the Southern Tenant Farmer's Union. By the end of 1936, it had 31,000 members in seven states.
very intelligent and well versed
strong and determine
debater who loved to read
throughout the movie he struggled with life situations
Henry Lowe went on to study theology at the University of California and became a minister.
First female to compete on Wiley's debate team.
Very motivated and spoke strongly with emotion.
Samantha Brooke went on the be a lawyer and took a freedom ride to Alabama.
James Farmer, Jr.
Youngest member of the debate team (only 14 years old).
Very mature educational, but not socially
Learned how speaking the truth is very powerful
James Farmer, Jr. founded the Congress of Racial Equality and became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.
James Farmer, Sr.
Stern father and law abiding citizen
Minister and Educator at Wiley College
Prominent figure of the community
James Farmer, Sr. died in 1961 after a long life of writing and teaching.
Other Supporting Characters
Pearl Farmer - Kimberly Elise
Ruth Tolson - Gina Rivera
Hamilton Burgess - Jermaine Williams
Sheriff Dozier - John Heard
There are a variety of conflicts that exist in this film...
This movie is based on a true story of Melvin B. Tolson and his debate team at Wiley College in 1935. He inspired students to have a "voice". He wanted them to have equality during a time where Jim Crow law and segregation existed. He molded his students to use the power of words to face social inequalities. His unorthodox ways seemed very futile, but in the end produced amazing results. They were not just debating for team recognition, they were debating for change in racism/discrimination, politics, and Jim Crow Laws. In the end they became national debate champions and broke some barriers of segregation.
Struggles against racial oppression and racial inequalities. For example, white schools did not want them to participate in their debate matches
Political confrontation were very visible. Jim Crow Laws, lynching, and the negative views against starting a union created social tension and unfair practices.
The movie is not really about how the debate team became national champions. It is more about how the team, coach, school, and community believes that a good education is their best way to combat racism and discrimination. Through their strong voices they were able to break many barriers and over come social inequalities.
It was inspiring to see how they were able to combat adversities with their knowledge, strength, and voices. Although segregation and Jim Crow Laws existed, they were able to break barriers with their determination and will to rise above all odds. It was uplifting to know that during a time of change, they were able to overcome life struggles through the power of words and courage.
Directed By: Denzel Washington Produced By: Oprah Winfrey
Viewed by: Sharla Chadwick and Shawn Chadwick