The Great Debaters – About Money For College?

I just went to see The Great Debaters starring Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker, and apparently their son, Denzel Whitaker. Or perhaps just Forest’s son. Look closely, and this movie can teach you a great deal about finding money for college.

How can a movie about the Jim Crowe South teach you anything about finding money for college? Once you know the subject of the movie, I think you’ll see. Let’s take a look.

Great Debaters get a Great Education

In The Great Debaters, Denzel Washington plays Melvin Tolson, a professor at Wiley College, and Forest Whitaker plays James Farmer Sr., the first Black Texan to earn a PhD, and administrator at Wiley College. He was sort of Tolson’s boss. The movie shows how Tolson created a great debate team at the college, including James Farmer Jr., played by Denzel Whitaker. By the way, Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington produced the movie.

The students on the team work hard to debate, and Tolson teaches them a fantastic philosophy about debate while fishing on a pond. Who is the judge? God is the Judge. And why is...anyway, I think you’ll like how they develop and win debates. They become great debaters, and show that they have a great education.

And that is one reason why I wanted to tell you about the movie. They had trials, severe ones. They narrowly escaped a lynching in a couple of cases. James Farmer Jr. witnesses his father perform one of the greatest debates in the film as he convinces John Heard’s character, the local sheriff, to let Tolson out of jail.

All of the big players go on to finish their education and achieve success in many fields. I won’t name everyone in the film, since you’ll want to see it and find out on your own. I will give you one link before moving on. You can look up Melvin Tolson on Wikipedia

A Good Education Shouldn't Be About Money

The Great Debaters presents a group of college students who, by the end of the film, have become assets to society because they are educated. It wasn’t about the money any more. They knew they had learned what they went to college to learn.

Your education today doesn’t require the kind of sacrifice or problems that they had. Participating in a college debate now likely won’t ever put you in danger. But you can still make the kind of contribution they made, and you can get an education and find money for college easier now than in their time.

In one scene, James Farmer Sr. and his wife listen closely as their son argues a point in a debate. You can see the devotion and investment in their faces. The tension of the moment rises as he finishes his point. As parents, they know that their son has the education and poise they sent him to college to learn.

It’s very moving. Worth the 2 hours to see. And it can inspire you to get or finish a college degree.


More Movies to Come

Occasionally I'll add new movies when they relate to the theme of the site and illustrate a point. Take a look at my review of the movie 21 about students playing and winning at Blackjack.

From The Great Debaters back to home