Friday, January 27, 2012

Setting the Record Straight

In 2007 one of the better movies was about a debate team from a historically Black college (HBCU) called Wiley College.  The movie, produced by Oprah Winfrey, told the story of a dedicated professor (Melvin B. Tolson) and his efforts to get his debate team some recognition among predominantly white colleges in 1935.   It ends with Wiley being invited to Harvard.   Trouble is the story is not true.   Wiley did have a superb debate team in that era.  And they did do some debates including one at USC.  For some reason the writers of the movie thought moviegoers could not understand anything but Harvard.   That debate will be replayed, according to the Bee, in Wiley, Texas.

Chris Medina, Wiley's director of forensics commented "I think it is an incredible opportunity for the two teams to get together once again. We owe a debt of gratitude to USC for being groundbreakers in allowing us, an HBCU, to really, at that point, achieve legitimacy.  They were one of the few white colleges that would debate with us."

The article goes on to say that while there was not a national debate championship at the time USC was a powerhouse.

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