" In 1935-36, inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and his clandestine work as a union organizer, Professor Melvin Tolson coaches the debate team to a nearly-undefeated season that sees the first debate between U.S. students from white and Negro colleges and ends with an invitation to face Harvard University's national champions."
This movie would make an excellent addition to a unit study on the history of the U.S., slavery, the 20th century, the Civil Rights Movement. It does portray a lynching which should disturb most viewers.
Starring and directed by Denzel Washington, The Great Debaters is an stirring portrayal of what life was like for blacks post-slavery and pre-civil rights. It is also demonstrates the power of teaching. Marva Collins is another teaching great and Denzel portrays what I imagine Marva must be like in person- teaching like his hair's on fire, knowledgeable, passionate, with a sense of purpose and vision for the people whose lives he is influencing. The Power of 1.
The kids involved in the One Act Play festival and I are doing a mini-unit study of sorts on WWII. One of the parents sent me a video clip on Irena Sendler, another real-life heroine.
Another YouTube about Irena pointed out that she lost the nomination of the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and he found this ironic. A commenter left this message, "You clearly dont understand the world around you. So please don't preach. Let me say that I commend her brave notions and actions, but its in the past, and it did nothing to help the world AS A WHOLE. Just help the people she saved. That's it, and there were plenty of others like her too, she isn't unique." (I cut and pasted the comment without changes).
I'm stunned. A flood of comments positively regarding Al Gore rather than the life of a woman who lived sacrificially. Al Gore aside, the point of the video was Irena Sandler. But, if the past is inconsequential, and those few (2,500) people whose lives were saved from torment and terror mean so little, than maybe Al is the focus. Maybe we need to live by the wisdom of Max Detwieler (Sound of Music), "What's going to happen is going to happen. Just make sure that is doesn't happen to you." Maybe the focus should be on getting what's ours. Maybe, in our plastic comfort, we should be satisfied.
Call me an idealist, but I have a higher hope. I hope that actions have meaning beyond our own small puddle. I hope that the gifted teachers like Marva Collins and Melvin Tolson or the petite, simple, faithful greats like Irena Sendler and Corrie Ten Boom, change the world. That those actions and ideals bring us closer to Truth, beauty, love and the real things.
To what's ahead, knowing that what's past lays the foundation. With gratitude for those heros and heroines who built that foundation with love.