The Great Debaters (2007) Movie Review: Digital Participation

This film was about a small Wiley College that situated in Marshall, Texas, in 1935 during the time of Jim Crow South law took place. The law, which widely occurred across the southern part of the US, enacted racial segregation between the Black and White people. On top of that, the Jim Crow law also legally allowed lynching of black men by the White minority ruling. Directed by Denzel Washington, who also happened to be the main character as the college’s debate team coach, he clearly underlined the importance of knowledge and education in order to break the chain of racial discrimination. Throughout the film, we could see how the daily life of the black people in Marshall was dominated by the white minority rule. The scene of farmers gathering was accused of such a union that might have threatened the white people’s authority in the area. Washington’s interests in politics also almost jeopardized the debate team’s unbeatable winning records.

Of all, there was a scene where Washington brilliantly depicted how the racial discrimination led the other characters to respond differently, and this reminded me to our discussion in class about complicity. The scene took place when James L. Farmer, Jr., one of the debate team’s members, was in car with his family with his father driving. All of the sudden, there were three white kids running towards the car and they caused Farmer’s father to put on the brake immediately. Unfortunately, he did not know that he hit a hog whose owners were two white men. These men asked for compensation, but when Farmer Sr. gave his check from the college, they even humiliated him by throwing the check away and asked Farmer Sr. to take it back and give it to them. Witnessing the insult, Farmer Jr. wanted to confront the white men and defend his father while Farmer Sr. was compliant and tried to calm his son down.

Based on a true story, this film was more about the struggle of Wiley College students in gaining a national championship. The main theme of racial discrimination made this film dense.

I might give you a spoiler in this review, but that’s not even the climax of this awesome movie.

So, what are you waiting for? 🙂


About monicatham

My name is Monica Tham, and I am originally from Indonesia. I've spent the last two years of community college in Seattle. So this will be my second year here in the capital, and I'm so excited to finish my senior year strong. I am majoring in International Studies at SIS with a concentration on Global Inequality and Development in Asia. This is my second class-related blog - but I hope you'd enjoy the content. I love short getaways to places I've never been to - I'm proud enough to call myself a travel buff and foodie :) Thanks for visiting my blog. Cheers, Monica

Posted on November 3, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Great Debaters (2007) Movie Review: Digital Participation.

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