There’s Hope: Melvin B. Tolson

There’s Hope: Melvin B. Tolson

This man was a poet and politician. Apart from this, perhaps unorthodox, combination he also taught speech and English at Wiley College, Texas for more than 20 years. No, Tolson wasn’t just any teacher. In fact, he built the award-winning debate team: the Wiley Forensic Society.

Last week, we had the pleasure to introduce you to Malala Yousafzai. In this short introduction, you came across an incredible amount of courage, whose owner didn’t even reach 18 yet, but didn’t think twice before openly challenging the Taliban.

This week, you will get to know someone, who not only had a powerful voice but also taught others how to raise theirs and stand up for their rights.

Melvin B. Tolson

This man was a poet and politician. Apart from this, perhaps unorthodox, combination he also taught speech and English at Wiley College, Texas for more than 20 years. No, Tolson wasn’t just any teacher. In fact, he built the award-winning debate team: the Wiley Forensic Society.

During their tour in 1935, they broke through the colour barrier by beating the University of Southern California and placed themselves on equal footing with whites in the American South. Just to reiterate, this was during the 1930s, when Jim Crow laws were common and lynch mobs were a pervasive fear for blacks.

Yes, this might be a long time ago and debating might not seem excessively interesting to some of us. But what, if we had a way to turn back time and let you feel the power of these words? Luckily for us, there is a movie called “The Great Debaters”, who is directed and starred by Denzel Washington.

“The movie also explores the social constructs in Texas during the Great Depression including not only the day-to-day insults and slights African Americans endured, but also a lynching. Moreover, it depicts James L. Farmer, Jr. (Denzel Whitaker) who, at 14 years old, was on Wiley’s debate team after completing high school (and who later went on to co-found C.O.R.E., the Congress of Racial Equality). “

But why don’t you see for yourself?

TRAILER:

SPOILER ALERT!!!! – THE FINAL DEBATE:

 

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