Free Essay on the Great Debaters Movie Research

Published: 2018-08-22
Free Essay on the Great Debaters Movie Research
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Racism Movie
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1034 words
9 min read

The movie which was set from little Wiley College in Texas

The Great Debaters is a true story movie set from little Wiley College in Texas. The college is a black institution in the Jim Crow South of the 1930s. The movie revolves around an English professor Melvin Tolson who has a debate team of whom he expects highest standards so that they can be competent enough and able to scope the national championship. Mr.Tolson is one of Americas leading poet but he does not go about telling people of his achievements but instead keeps it as a secret to avoid confrontation with the white individuals who pose as a barrier to aggressive black people. Tolson holds auditions from which he picks four students and makes them be his debate team. These students are of diverse characters and with different potentials. The professor takes it upon himself to lead and counsel these students as well as disciplining them to greater heights of achieving victory over Harvard who happen to be the national champion.

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Tolson becomes singled out by a white sheriff who operates in their local area, and who believes that the professor is an agitator who inflames people with political ideas especially his fellow black people. Tolson often organizes road trips for his debate team where they attend debates in different places. One particular night they narrowly escape from the jaws of death when they find that a black man has been set ablaze immediately after been lynched. This scares the hell out of him and his debate team who consider themselves lucky for having escaped the violent white mob.

Black and white debaters

In the movie The Great Debaters, we see instances that capture our attention. For instance, the spying of Professor Tolson by the white sheriff to the lynching and setting ablaze of the body of the black man. The jealousy that is geared towards the black debaters who outshine the white students is so intense and almost becomes too much to take in by the black students. We see one of the students leave the debate group when he finds out that Mr.Tolson, his professor was a communist. The debate team exhibits great prowess in various debates where they become unbeaten for ten years, winning tremendously and beating the Harvard students who are considered the debaters of all time. Despite Tolson not been able to see his team perform against the Harvard because he had been blacklisted hence not able to leave the state, the team he had nurtured and disciplined well does him proud by emerging winners at the Harvard debates. The movie shows how Jr, one of the black debaters finds a way around his fear when they do close-up shots on him.

Characters in this movie are very hard working especially for the debate team and the professor who work tirelessly to bring the best out of the debate team. The payoff of their hard work is applaudable; by the end of it all, they win the debate consequently for ten good years. The debate becomes heated when Ms. Booke debated against the white kids about black kids attending the white schools. This debate puts points across in a clear manner that was understandable to all.

Racism in the movie

Racism comes about in this movie on several occasions. The local sheriff suspects and blacklists Professor Tolson from leaving the state just because he suspects that he intrigues political thoughts in other people. He sees the good work that the professor is doing in helping nurture black students and feel that this may pose a big challenge in the future when the black people get to raise their voices to demand their rights. The sheriff does this to intimidate the professor against his ambitious efforts to enlighten the black community.

The lynching and setting ablaze the body of the black man is racism at its highest. The white mob feels that the black man is a threat to them and they had to do something to get rid of him before he could become a trouble to the white community. The black people have no rights and are mistreated by the white people. The student who leaves the debate team formed by Professor Tolson shows some degree of racism. He feels that he cannot work under a communist since they are people who believe in a classless society where all people should be treated as equals.

Prejudices in the movie

Prejudice is portrayed by the Harvard when they invite the students toform Wiley College since they heard that they were good debaters. Their main aim is to prove that they are the best, a perception which is hit by the reality that the black people can do what the white do even in a better way. The three students excel very at a time when there was a lot of racial and prejudice issues. Black students believe that education is the only weapon that can keep them onpar with the white people. The black students are criticized for acting white,' which makes them proud and focused, an idea they proudly put across during the debate.

This movie The Great Debaters is based on a true story implying that racism was a bigproblem and it undermined the black people. James Jr. who is the main character got more confident and started believing in himself. He shows that a small college like theirs could comfortably debate well like the Harvard debate team. This is to show that black people were becoming aware of their rights with time and time would reach when the society would treat them as equals with the whites.

The great debaters are a reminder of the victory the black people have consistently strived for over the decades. This piece of literature shows the effort blacks put in the past days so as to shape the future and impact positively to how it is now. Persistence is what brings the best out of people, and black people could do so since they have what it takes.


Khan, F. (2015). The Great Debaters. Retrieved from ttp://

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