If Oprah is involved, clearly it’s going to be good. Winfrey produced Denzel Washington’s inspired-by-a-true-story film The Great Debaters, in which he plays the mercurial coach for the black collegiate debate team in the racially fraught 1930s. The period film is about history—about inequality and civil rights—but it’s also about being, well, a great debater. The preparation. The delivery. The impassioned extemporaneous speaking. In the final debate, Washington’s team from Wiley College has made it all the way to Harvard, where they’re taking on the preeminent white orators on the circuit. The symbolic showdown is a tearjerker about majorities, morality and lynchings.
Fighting Words: “My opponent says nothing that erodes the rule of law can be moral. But there is no rule of law in the Jim Crow South.”
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