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A Life Span of Civil, Voting and Human Rights Without Equity

July 22, 2017

A Life Span of Civil, Voting and Human Rights Without Equity

Next year will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act. The landmark bill prohibited by law long-standing practices of housing segregation based on race by landlords and local governments. Despite the law, housing discrimination never fully disappeared, and the effects of decades of discrimination are evident in U.S. cities — many of which still highly segregated.

The forced segregation of black Americans in neighborhoods with suboptimal schooling, poor public transportation, and fewer job opportunities has led to worse social and economic outcomes for residents in those neighborhoods.

To identify America’s 15 most segregated cities, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the percentage of metropolitan area black residents who live in predominantly black census tracts. While certain racially homogeneous neighborhoods exist in every large metropolitan area, some cities are far more starkly divided. In several U.S. metropolitan areas, more than one-fourth of the African American population lives in neighborhoods that are at least 80% black. In two metro areas, more than half of black residents live in a predominately African American neighborhood.

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Several Urban Centers Have the Ignominious Reputation of Perverting the Concept of Equity. The Current Crisis in Politics and all forms of Governance Underscores the Hardships of Equity Economically and Socially that has Gripped America Since its Inception. Turning Back Time We See Further Erosion of the Principles of a Republic based on Freedom and participating citizens in making social policies. NO PARTY Represents the underside and under-served and none will as long as we stick to the values that one can buy a position of power and exploitation ignoring the injustices of times immemorial spanning the history of civilization. As it was once uttered, “if we fail to recognize that poverty must end in every form spiritual, economic, social, and political, we’re doomed.”


The Great Debaters

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Great Debaters
Great debaters post.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Denzel Washington
Produced by
Written by
  • Jeffrey Porro
  • Robert Eisele
Music by
Cinematography Philippe Rousselot
Edited by Hughes Winborne
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
Release date
  • December 25, 2007
Running time
126 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $30.2 million[1]

The Great Debaters is a 2007 American biographical drama film directed by and starring Denzel Washington. It is based on an article written about the Wiley Collegedebate team by Tony Scherman for the spring 1997 issue of American Legacy.[2]

The film co-stars Forest WhitakerKimberly EliseNate ParkerGina RaveraJermaine Williams and Jurnee Smollett. The screenplay was written by Robert Eisele. The film was released in theaters on December 25, 2007.[3]


Based on a true story, the plot revolves around the efforts of debate coach Melvin B. Tolson (Denzel Washington) at Wiley College, a Historically Black College, to place his team on equal footing with whites in the American South during the 1930s, when Jim Crow laws were common and lynch mobs were a pervasive fear for blacks. In the movie, the Wiley team eventually succeeds to the point where they are able to debate Harvard University. This was their 47th annual debate team.

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. Also depicted is 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). According to the Houston Chronicle, another character depicted on the team, Samantha Booke, is based on the real individual Henrietta Bell Wells, the only female member of the 1930 debate team from Wiley College who participated in the first collegiate interracial debate in the United States. Wells also happened to be a minor African American poet whose papers are housed at the Library of Congress.

The key line of dialogue, used several times, is a famous paraphrase of Augustine of Hippo: “An unjust law is no law at all.”

Another major line, repeated in slightly different versions according to context, concerns doing what you “have to do” in order that we “can do” what we “want to do.” In all instances, these vital lines are spoken by the James L. Farmer Sr. and James L. Farmer, Jr. characters.

Historical background

The film depicts the Wiley Debate team beating Harvard College in the 1930s. They did not debate Harvard, however. The debate depicted in the film instead mirrored the match up between Wiley and the University of Southern California, who at the time were the reigning debating champions. Wiley College did indeed win this matchup.[4] According to Robert Eisele: “In that era, there was much at stake when a black college debated any white school, particularly one with the stature of Harvard. We used Harvard to demonstrate the heights they achieved.”[5]

The film omits another reality: even though they beat the reigning champions, the Great Debaters were not allowed to call themselves victors because they were not truly considered to belong to the debate society; blacks were not admitted until after World War II.[6]



The film was the first since 1979 to be allowed to film on Harvard’s campus.[7]

Release and reception

Box office

The Great Debaters debuted at No. 11 in its first weekend with a total of $6,005,180 from 1,171 venues. The film grossed $30,236,407 in the US.[1]

Critical response[edit]

As of November 20, 2012 the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 79% of critics gave the film positive reviews based on 131 reviews. The consensus reads: “A wonderful cast and top-notch script elevate The Great Debaters beyond a familiar formula for a touching, uplifting drama.”[8] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 65 out of 100 based on 32 reviews.[9]

Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer named it the 5th best film of 2007[10] and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times named it the 9th best film of 2007.[11]

Some critics have criticized the film for “playing it safe.”[12] John Monaghan of the Detroit Free Press stated, “Serious moviegoers, especially those attracted by the movie’s aggressive Oscar campaign, will likely find the package gorgeously wrapped, but intellectually empty.”[12]

Awards and nominations



Urban debate leagues

The release of the film coincided with a nationally stepped-up effort by urban debate leagues to get hundreds of inner-city and financially challenged schools to establish debate programs.[14][15] Cities of focus included Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

Denzel Washington’s donation

On December 19, 2007, Denzel Washington announced a $1 million donation to Wiley College so they could re-establish their debate team.[16] June 2007, after completing filming at Central High School, Grand Cane, Louisiana, Washington donated $10,000 to Central High School.[citation needed]

DVD release

The Great Debaters was released on DVD on May 13, 2008 on 1-disc and 2-disc editions. In the 2-disc edition, the first disc includes no extra material, but the second disc includes an audio commentary, a making of documentarydeleted scenesfeaturettes, and a still gallery.

Soundtrack and score

The songs for the soundtrack to the film were hand-picked by Denzel Washington from over 1000 candidates.[17] It contains remakes of traditional blues and Gospel songs from the 1920s and 1930s by artists including Sharon JonesAlvin Youngblood Hart, David Berger, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops.[18] It features favorites, such as “Step It Up and Go,” “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” and the Duke Ellington classic, “Delta Serenade.”[19] Varèse Sarabande released a separate album of the film’s score, composed by James Newton Howard and Peter Golub.

The complete soundtrack album includes the following songs:[20]

Track listing

  1. “My Soul is a Witness” – Alvin “Youngblood” Hart & Sharon Jones
  2. “That’s What My Baby Likes” – Sharon Jones, Alvin Youngblood Hart & Teenie Hodges
  3. “I’ve Got Blood in My Eyes for You” – The Carolina Chocolate Drops & Alvin “Youngblood” Hart
  4. Step It Up and Go” – Alvin “Youngblood” Hart & Teenie Hodges
  5. “It’s Tight Like That” – Sharon Jones, Alvin Youngblood Hart & Teenie Hodges
  6. “Busy Bootin'” – Alvin “Youngblood” Hart & The Carolina Chocolate Drops
  7. “City of Refuge” – Alvin “Youngblood” Hart & The Carolina Chocolate Drops
  8. “Two Wings” – Alvin “Youngblood” Hart, Sharon Jones w/Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith
  9. “Delta Serenade” – David Berger & The Sultans of Swing
  10. “Rock n’ Rye” – David Berger & The Sultans of Swing
  11. “Wild About That Thing” – Sharon Jones, Alvin Youngblood Hart, & Teenie Hodges
  12. Nobody’s Fault but Mine” – Alvin “Youngblood” Hart & The Carolina Chocolate Drops
  13. “How Long Before I Change My Clothes” – Alvin “Youngblood” Hart
  14. We Shall Not Be Moved” – Sharon Jones w/Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith
  15. Up Above My Head” – Sharon Jones w/Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices of Faith
  16. “The Shout” – Art Tatum
  17. “Begrüssung” – Marian Anderson


  1. Jump up to:a b “The Great Debaters”Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  2. Jump up^ – American Legacy Magazine’s Story The Great Debaters Turns from Pages to the Big Screen Directed By and Starring Denzel Washington and Produced By Oprah Winfrey ArchivedJune 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. Jump up^ “The Great Debaters – Official Site”. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
  4. Jump up^ Beil, Laura (2007-12-05). “For Struggling Black College, Hopes of a Revival”NYTimes. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
  5. Jump up^ “The Great Debater’s”Roger Ebert. 2007-12-24. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  6. Jump up^ For Struggling Black College, Hopes of a Revival.” New York Times, December 5, 2007.
  7. Jump up^ Phillip, Abby D. (2007-07-23). “The Harvard Crimson :: News :: New Denzel Flick Films In Sanders”. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
  8. Jump up^ “The Great Debaters – Rotten Tomatoes”Rotten Tomatoes. 2007-12-24. Retrieved 2008-01-20.
  9. Jump up^ “Great Debaters, The (2007): Reviews”Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  10. Jump up^ “Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists”Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  11. Jump up^ Roger Ebert (2007-12-20). “The year’s ten Best films and other shenanigans”Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  12. Jump up to:a b “The Great Debaters Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes”. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
  13. Jump up^ “HOLLYWOOD FOREIGN PRESS ASSOCIATION 2008 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2007”. 2007-12-13. Archived from the original on 2007-12-15. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
  14. Jump up^ Take Action
  15. Jump up^ “National Association for the Urban Debate Leagues”. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
  16. Jump up^
  17. Jump up^ “Denzel Washington Hand Picks Songs for New Film” – The Insider}
  18. Jump up^ Soundtrack Listing on IMDB
  19. Jump up^ “Denzel Washington Hand Picks Songs for New Film” – The Insider
  20. Jump up^ “The Great Debaters (Soundtrack)” on

External links


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