Develop a one to two page paper-answer the following questions. .
The Great Debaters
What themes and important messages did you find in the movie?
What did the members of the debate team have in common?
What made them different?
What made them come together as a team?
What was the relationship like between James and his father? How did the fact that James’ father was a preacher and a professor affect him?
James was constantly trying to gain the approval of his father. Did he ever receive this approval from him?
Why was it so important to Professor Tolson that the Wiley College debate team get an invitation to debate against Harvard?
Professor Tolson wrote the arguments for all the debates while the students researched them. Do you think that was the right thing for him to do? How did it impact their preparation for the Harvard debate?
How did the stress of competing at Harvard affect the team?
Both Samantha and Henry temporarily deserted the team during the debate season. How did that affect the team?
How did Professor Tolson’s involvement in the organization of the unions affect the debate team? Was it fair? Should he have done anything differently?
Henry shared how he bounced in and out of school from time to time. What keeps students in college? Why do you think some students do not stay to finish college? What are you doing to make sure you stay on the path to graduation?
Samantha Booke was one of the few black women to attend college during the time of this movie. What do you think were some of the challenges for her?
When Henry became involved with Samantha, James became very upset. How did that affect their relationship and their teamwork?
What impact did the viewing of the lynching have on the members of the team? Did they do the right thing by fleeing the scene or should they have stayed to stand up for the man who was lynched like Henry wanted to do?
What scene in the movie had the greatest impact on you? Why?
What is happening in our society today with regard to racism? Does it still exist? Share examples.
Discuss and reflect on ONE OF the following quotes from the movie:
- “We do what we have to do so we can do what we want to do” (James Sr. to James Jr.)
- “Your words are like weapons” (Professor Tolson to his students)
- “Unjust law is no law at all” (Reverend Farmer to the Sheriff)