The Great Debaters is a movie based on the historical emancipation of the Black American people born in an era where racial prejudice was the order of the day the black Americans sought to fight against a system that is totally unfair and unjust. The story is set on Wiley college, a black only school situated in Marshall, Texas in the year 1935. The debate team was anchored by Coach Melvin B. Tolson a role acted by Denzel Washington. In order to constitute a good debate team, Coach Tolson selected four students with incredible eloquence and IQ. The four debate team members are Henry Lowe, Samantha Booke, James Farmer Jr and Hamilton Burgess. These young black American students were brought into the world of debate to challenge the evil in their time. It was a period of rigorous training and hard work for them. Coach Tolson instilled confidence and determination in them so that they could face their opponents without the fear of defeat. The team members are unique in themselves. Henry Lowe is an intelligent young man filled with potentials. Sadly, he is reckless with Zero attitude. And the youngest of the team is James Farmer Jr a fourteen year old boy who is very intelligent for his age and lucky enough to be born to a reputable family. He seemed to be more mature than even the other team members who are well ahead of him in age. While Samantha Booke is the only female in the debate team. She is highly intelligent, beautiful and ambitious. She is an aspiring lawyer no wonder Henry Lowe and James Farmer JR fell in love with her. Surprisingly, Hamilton pulled out of the debate team and this did not deter the team from winning. It only spurred them to do better. At the end, it was their team spirit and determination that earned them the top spot in debates all over the country. They remain undefeated for ten years. Quite a record!
The freedom we enjoy now was fought for by someone. The innovations and technological advancement we are privileged to have in this era boil down to the hard work of some people. This brings me to Coach Tolson, a tough rigorous and hard core man, who never bowed to oppression. He was not just a teacher, he was involved in the politics of his time trying to amend the ills in the society. He was filled with the unquenching thirst to end the injustice being meted out to the black minorities in America. Although he didn’t go through this unscathed, he was constantly harassed, he was arrested unjustly and given a state arrest but that did not stop him. In life, there is no sacrifice without pain. Just imagine yourself living in that era would you have survived the pain and the anguish and the injustice and man’s inhumanity to man that was at play? Hell no! Just like them, you would have been angry. I think the era where we close our eyes to injustice is over. Injustice should never be tolerated in human society. Coach Tolson was fearless and he established a union of Southern Tenant Farmers. He charged them to fight for their rights and challenge the government to do what is right for them. Guess what! he won the fight and by the end of 1936, he had 31,000 members in seven states. Nothing will happen if you don’t try. Melvin Tolson is a world renowned poet and he focused his writings on the emancipation of the black American people. I think it is time for you to do the same. You can right the wrong and amend the hurt and injustice in the society. Not only for yourself but for generations to come. The likes of Martin Luther King can not be forgotten and you can do the same. And history will remember you forever, your name will be imprinted in the shores of time.
Yes! We could be at the receiving end of the ills in the society but we have the power control how it affects us. Henry Lowe was a difficult person because he was filled with so much anger and pain. He allowed his troubles to affect his relationship with people around him. His attitude was zero especially towards his coach and the woman he loves Samantha. It is wrong to treat people badly just because you are going through tough times. You should rather lean on them and draw strength, not hurt them and rub your troubles on them. Everyone should appreciate their friends and loved ones. It is very important.
How can a small black college win a debate against Harvard University- a school widely renowned for excellence? It is the power of determination and hard work. Small Wiley college went up against top universities and colleges and they won. It an incredible feat on their part. The world of impossibility belongs to people who lack determination and perseverance. I love the way Coach Tolson equipped them He told them that God is the judge and their opponent does not exist. If we face our goals like this. We will be victorious. Sometimes we need to close eyes against our competitors so we could harness our strength to achieving our goals rather than getting scared of who is ahead or better than us. They were scared at first but during the competition, they stood up with confidence and spoke with calm. So I would say calm down, think it through and work towards your goal with determination even if you don’t win you will be better than who you use to be.