Monday, May 19, 2008

The Great Debaters

I'm not one to do movie reviews much, but we sat and watched this movie today, and it bears mentioning. You can see videos here: The Great Debaters

I checked Wikipedia, and learned that it is loosely based on a true story. Although the real debaters never actually debated Harvard, they did win a victory against another established school.

The film is a good one to watch to raise awareness in your teens of the racism that was rampant in the South in the beginning of the last century. The bus scene near the beginning of the film pans down the bus, clearly showing the whites in the front of the bus and the blacks in the back.

Another lesson is that being well-read is important. In order to be articulate in speech and writing, you must read a wide variety of literature, including poetry, plays, the classics, and of course the Bible. Commit great quotes to memory. They will come to mind when you need them.
"As Charles Spurgeon once said,
"The man who never reads will never be read;
he who never quotes will never be quoted.
He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains,
proves that he has no brains of his own."
There is a clear depiction of the bullying that was experienced by Negroes at the hands of the poor white sharecroppers, when a Preacher was forced to pay an exorbitant amount to a farmer for a pig killed on the road accidentally. The preacher, played by Forrest Whittaker, was willing to be cheated and humiliated rather than to let his family be harmed. There was courage in the acceptance of the humiliation, in some ways, even though his son didn't see it.

After witnessing a lynching, the debate team suffered a great deal, emotionally. One of the men reacted by drinking and partying (caveat: there are a couple of scenes with women that should be avoided by using the fast-forward). However, in the end, they rallied and worked tirelessly to win the debate.

I haven't lived with racism as people in the South have experienced it. I do remember being in the minority, growing up in a small Quebec town where there were only 6 English-speaking families. I remember some strife and misunderstanding, especially around the time of the FLQ crisis. However, the prejudice I experienced was minimal. I spoke fluent French and often fooled my peers. I could hide my identity - whereas blacks cannot hide their skin colour.

The Bible predicts the enmity of the last days:

Matthew 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

We fear what we do not know, and we don't like things that are different. We are most comfortable with people like ourselves. Yet God says in His word, He will redeem people from every nation.

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

There is no room for prejudice in God's economy. We are all from Adam, so we are all brothers and sisters. The genome project made that clear, too.

It's good to understand how racism flourished in the past, so we can avoid it in the future. And this movie, The Great Debaters, helped us understand it better.


KeepItSimple said...


We just bought this movie. We had heard wonderful reviews on it, and saw it last night in the store while we were out.

I look forward to watching it!

Thank you for your review.

Blessings -
There is a Season...

Janet said...

You're welcome! It really depicts the struggle the Negroes of the South went through during that era. It's shocking to this Canadian to realize that they were constantly belittled in so many ways.

My son Christopher is reading the story of George Washington Carver, who was born a slave but ended up a brilliant professor in the first Black College. Fascinating story!