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The Great Debaters (2007)
Denzel Washington’s second directorial feature, set against the backdrop of Depression-era Texas and Jim Crow oppression, proves that knowledge has the power to change lives and the course of history. His team of students from Wiley College challenge not only the racism and ignorance in their town, but eventually compete against the Harvard debate team in a national radio broadcast. Rousing, timeless quotes from historical figures abound, and Washington, whose performance as the Wiley debate coach carries all of the dignity, resolve, and righteous fury that characterized black thinkers of his time, inhabits a world of words that is both passionate and essential. His and his team’s struggle lends an immediacy to education that one rarely finds. —Josh Stillman
Image Credit: David Lee
September 8 2012 — 12:00 AM EDT
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