The Great Debaters

Denigrate. There's a word for you. From the Latin word "niger", to defame, to blacken. It's always there, isn't it? Even in the dictionary. Even in the speech of a Negro professor. Somehow, "black" is always equated with failure.

The year is 1935 and Professor Tolson has just held try-outs for the Wiley College debate team. Wiley is a coloured college located in Texas, the heart of the south. The segregation there is very severe, whites and blacks must be kept separated. The Jim Crowe law is relevant and the Africans Americans must be kept "separate, but equal". The three young debaters with the help of their professor stand up to and even defeat all-white colleges, and thus prove that the colour of your skin does not decide anything. The film is based on a true story, and the students "grew up" to become great lawyers, ministers and poets.

There was a great number of challenges they faced that they wouldn't had to if they were white, for instance when James Farmer Senior ran over a white man's hog. He was forced to pay up and was ridiculed in front of his family simply because he was coloured. A simple apology would have sufficed if he had been of Anglo-Saxon origin. The difference was shocking to the team when they came to Boston to debate the Harvard team. The difference between north and south was huge, in Oklahoma they weren't allowed to have the debate on campus, whilst at Harvard they lived on campus.

I'll get back to this post later!

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02.01.2014 kl.13:17

That was quite a contrast for the students to be able to visit Harvard and to compete. I can't imagine living under circumstances they did. And I suspect the animal was already dead when they hit it. I think it was a scam! It would be difficult never to be able to speak up when treated like that.

Kevin Hoang

05.04.2014 kl.00:48


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