The Great Debaters Analysis

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The film “The great debaters” is a Denzel Washington directed biographical drama released in the year 2007. Set in the 1930’s the movie very vividly depicts actual events of black segregation, race induced oppression and the injustice that was meted out to them, along with it the hardships endured by the black community. As the name suggests, the movie shows the story of the Wiley College debate team who went on to become the best debating team in the 30’s. Wiley college predominantly a black college was clearly an outlier when it came to debating, as they were the only black college who were defeating other black as well as white colleges. An unbeatable streak of 11 to nothing is nothing short of extraordinary especially given the social set up of that era. In the 1930’s the United States reeling under the affects of the Great depression was deeply racially divided with minorities being sequestered from all sorts of benefits and other rights. The segregation was…show more content…
Though in reality, the face off was with the University of Southern California. The Wiley College debate team although missing Mr. Lowe, was able to clinch victory by beating the Harvard team. One statement in the scene stand outs very clearly, a key dialogue used throughout the movie. “An unjust law, is no law at all”- St. Augustine. Most importantly this statement sets the order and reaffirms the right of civil disobedience of the black community in the south. Although the win in the end as shown in the movie is an ode to their debating achievement, what the movie omits is the fact that these people or rather this inspiring story inspired future civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X. The debaters very often quoted Thoreau, Gandhi as it turns out they were inspired by such leaders but surprisingly the likes of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were followers of Thoreau and Gandhi too.
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