The Great Debaters (2007)
PG-13
126 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

A drama based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas. In 1935, he inspired students to form the school's first debate team, which went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.
Read more: Plot summary
Writers
Robert Eisele (screenplay) (story) | Jeffrey Porro (story) | Tony Scherman (inspired by the American Legacy article)
Cinematographer
Casting Director
Production Designer
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Release date
Dec 25, 2007 (United States)

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Cast

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107 cast members
Name Known for
Denzel Washington
Melvin B. Tolson Melvin B. Tolson   See fewer
Nate Parker
Henry Lowe Henry Lowe   See fewer
Jurnee Smollett
Samantha Booke Samantha Booke   See fewer
Denzel Whitaker
James Farmer Jr. James Farmer Jr.   See fewer
Jermaine Williams
Hamilton Burgess Hamilton Burgess   See fewer
Forest Whitaker
Dr. James Farmer Sr. Dr. James Farmer Sr.   See fewer
Gina Ravera
Ruth Tolson Ruth Tolson   See fewer
John Heard
Sheriff Dozier Sheriff Dozier   See fewer
Kimberly Elise
Pearl Farmer Pearl Farmer   See fewer
Devyn A. Tyler
Helen Farmer (as Devyn Tyler) Helen Farmer (as Devyn Tyler)   See fewer
Trenton McClain Boyd
Nathaniel Farmer Nathaniel Farmer   See fewer
Jackson Walker
Pig Owner Pig Owner   See fewer
Tim Parati
Pig Farmer Pig Farmer   See fewer
Robert X. Golphin
Dunbar Reed Dunbar Reed   See fewer
Justice Leak
Harland Osbourne Harland Osbourne   See fewer
Glen Powell
Harvard Debater #1 (as Glen Powell Jr.) Harvard Debater #1 (as Glen Powell Jr.)   See fewer
Brad Watkins
Harvard Debater #2 Harvard Debater #2   See fewer
Brian Smiar
Harvard Dean Harvard Dean   See fewer
Damien Leake
Wilson Wilson   See fewer
Voltaire Sterling
Paul Quinn Debater #1 (as Voltaire Rico Sterling) Paul Quinn Debater #1 (as Voltaire Rico Sterling)   See fewer
Stephen Rider
Paul Quinn Debater #2 Paul Quinn Debater #2   See fewer
Gordon Danniels
Paul Quinn Debate Judge Paul Quinn Debate Judge   See fewer
Donny Boaz
Oklahoma City College Debater #1 Oklahoma City College Debater #1   See fewer
Samuel Elliott Whisnant
Oklahoma City College Debater #2 (as Sam Whisnant) Oklahoma City College Debater #2 (as Sam Whisnant)   See fewer
Bonnie Johnson
Dr. Jennings Dr. Jennings   See fewer
Michael Beasley
Trudell Trudell   See fewer
Gary Mattis
Enormous Man (as Gary Mathis) Enormous Man (as Gary Mathis)   See fewer
George Wilson
Samuel Samuel   See fewer
Fahnlohnee R. Harris
Clementine (as Fahnlohnee Harris) Clementine (as Fahnlohnee Harris)   See fewer
Harold Evans
William Taylor (as Harold X. Evans) William Taylor (as Harold X. Evans)   See fewer
J.D. Evermore
Captain Wainwright Captain Wainwright   See fewer
Kelvin Payton
Joseph Joseph   See fewer
Southey Blanton
White Labor Organizer White Labor Organizer   See fewer
Michael Mattison
White Sharecropper #1 White Sharecropper #1   See fewer
Jeff Braun
White Sharecropper #2 White Sharecropper #2   See fewer
Milton R. Gipson
Prairie View Professor Prairie View Professor   See fewer
Frank Ridley
Security Guard Security Guard   See fewer
Jeremiah Kissel
Radio Announcer at Harvard Debate Radio Announcer at Harvard Debate   See fewer
Jack Radosta
White Man at Lynching White Man at Lynching   See fewer
Marcus Lyle Brown
Howard Debater #1 Howard Debater #1   See fewer
Alvin Youngblood Hart
Juke Joint Musician #1 (as Alvin 'Youngblood' Hart) Juke Joint Musician #1 (as Alvin 'Youngblood' Hart)   See fewer
Dom Flemons
Juke Joint Musician #2 (as Dominique Flemons) Juke Joint Musician #2 (as Dominique Flemons)   See fewer
Justin Robinson
Juke Joint Musician #3 Juke Joint Musician #3   See fewer
Rhiannon Giddens
Juke Joint Musician #4 Juke Joint Musician #4   See fewer
Ahmad Powell
Fisk Professor Fisk Professor   See fewer
Michael C. 'Mike' Allen
Deputy Texas Ranger (uncredited) Deputy Texas Ranger (uncredited)   See fewer
Razmig Arabian
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Kevin Beard
Klansman at Lynching (uncredited) Klansman at Lynching (uncredited)   See fewer
Ellen Becker-Gray
Faculty at Harvard Debate (uncredited) Faculty at Harvard Debate (uncredited)   See fewer
Chad Boldini
Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited) Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited)   See fewer
Matthew N. Bourgeois
Harvard Scholar (uncredited) Harvard Scholar (uncredited)   See fewer
Crystal Brown-Tatum
Female Teacher / Dance Chaperone (uncredited) Female Teacher / Dance Chaperone (uncredited)   See fewer
Gio Castellano
Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited) Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited)   See fewer
Thomas Cataloni
Sailor (uncredited) Sailor (uncredited)   See fewer
Michael DeMello
Debate Observer (uncredited) Debate Observer (uncredited)   See fewer
Roger Dillingham Jr.
Upscale Traveler (uncredited) Upscale Traveler (uncredited)   See fewer
Sal DiMino
Reporter (uncredited) Reporter (uncredited)   See fewer
Curtis Eames
Reporter (uncredited) Reporter (uncredited)   See fewer
Chaz Echols
Wiley College Student (uncredited) Wiley College Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Brian D. Evans
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Ben Fisher
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Jaishon Fisher
Newspaper Boy (uncredited) Newspaper Boy (uncredited)   See fewer
Jamai Fisher
Kid at Train Station (uncredited) Kid at Train Station (uncredited)   See fewer
Steve Flynn
Harvard Dean (uncredited) Harvard Dean (uncredited)   See fewer
Hugh Guiney
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Hevin Hampton
Bar Patron (uncredited) Bar Patron (uncredited)   See fewer
Joel B. Hayden
Harvard Professor (uncredited) Harvard Professor (uncredited)   See fewer
Patrick Mel Hayes
Harvard Alumni (uncredited) Harvard Alumni (uncredited)   See fewer
Benjamin Healy
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Chris Kosiavelon
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Kenneth Lecompte
Share Cropper and Grocer (uncredited) Share Cropper and Grocer (uncredited)   See fewer
Jimmy Lee Jr.
Lyncher (uncredited) Lyncher (uncredited)   See fewer
Aqua Lee
Juke Joint Couple (uncredited) Juke Joint Couple (uncredited)   See fewer
Christopher J. Long
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Robert Masiello
Harvard Alumni (uncredited) Harvard Alumni (uncredited)   See fewer
Josh McBride
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Paul McGillicuddy
Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited) Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited)   See fewer
Alex Milne
Shoe Shine Boy (uncredited) Shoe Shine Boy (uncredited)   See fewer
Tarek Moussa
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Jason Mulcahy
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Ed O'Keefe
Harvard Scholar (uncredited) Harvard Scholar (uncredited)   See fewer
Nefertara Ozella
Extra (uncredited) Extra (uncredited)   See fewer
Giovanni Pantaleo
Havard Student (uncredited) Havard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Cory Patt
Wiley Student (uncredited) Wiley Student (uncredited)   See fewer
James Paul
Riot Starter (uncredited) Riot Starter (uncredited)   See fewer
Jeannie Perrin
Lynching Participant (uncredited) Lynching Participant (uncredited)   See fewer
Todd Poudrier
Radio Tech (uncredited) Radio Tech (uncredited)   See fewer
Cyndy Powell
Harvard debate audience (uncredited) Harvard debate audience (uncredited)   See fewer
Breon Pugh
Wiley Debater (uncredited) Wiley Debater (uncredited)   See fewer
Alan Resnic
Harvard Scholar (uncredited) Harvard Scholar (uncredited)   See fewer
Robert M. Saunders
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Cory Reed Smith
Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited) Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited)   See fewer
Scott Sousa
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Michael Stanton
Harvard Professor (uncredited) Harvard Professor (uncredited)   See fewer
Heath Stewart
Reserve Harvard Debater (uncredited) Reserve Harvard Debater (uncredited)   See fewer
Bill Stinchcomb
Lynch Mob (uncredited) Lynch Mob (uncredited)   See fewer
Ruth Mahala Sullivan
Student (uncredited) Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Charles Sutherland
Man at Train Station (uncredited) Man at Train Station (uncredited)   See fewer
Ian Wallace
Harvard Student (uncredited) Harvard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Mario Wanza
Wiley Student (uncredited) Wiley Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Donald Warnock
The Chief Harvard Judge (uncredited) The Chief Harvard Judge (uncredited)   See fewer
Mike Wendt
Havard Student (uncredited) Havard Student (uncredited)   See fewer
Russell Woron-Simons
Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited) Harvard Debate Attendee (uncredited)   See fewer
Adam Zalt
Harvard Student / Navy Sailor (uncredited) Harvard Student / Navy Sailor (uncredited)   See fewer
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