Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Great Debaters

I'm a huge Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker fan. Any time I have an opportunity to see a movie that has either one of these guys acting in it, I'm jumping at the opportunity to head to my favorite multiplex, chow down on some popcorn and watch these gentlemen work.

I get to double my pleasure in the movie that just opened yesterday called The Great Debaters.

Denzel plays Wiley College Professor Melvin B. Tolson. He inspired students in 1935 to form the school's first debate team, which in reality went on to challenge Southern Californa, but in the movie is depicted as debating Harvard in the national championship.

The movie has already been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and is produced by Oprah's Harpo Productions.

One little known tidbit about my hometown is that Houston is a city with a great debate tradition. Texas Southern University has a outstanding debate team that was founded in 1949 under the leadership of the legendary Dr. Thomas F. Freeman. The late US Rep. Barbara Jordan was a member and a national champion along with my former Texas state senator Rodney Ellis. The TSU debaters were also technical advisors for this film as well

Another little known fact about Houston's rich debate tradition is that Lyndon B. Johnson, before he became Texas' US senator in 1948 and a future president was briefly a teacher and an award-winning debate coach at San Jacinto High School.

I'm looking forward to checking out this movie this weekend and seeing another piece of my people's history portrayed by a great actor.

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