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The Great Debaters Questions 2010

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“The Great Debaters Connection to Harlem Renaissance Viewing Analysis Guide
English III 2012
Answer the following questions in complete sentences.
1. What does Dr. Farmer mean when he says, “they must do what they have to do in order to do what they want to do”? How can you apply to
the people of the Harlem Renaissance?
2. How does Langston Hughes’ poem, “I, Too, Sing America” relate to the issues that the students in the class were facing as African
Americans in the United States in that time period?
3. D.H. Lawrence once said, “I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.” What does this mean?
4. Reflect on Samantha Booke’s source, “The look in a mother’s eyes when she can’t feed her kids.”
5. What does Tolson mean when he says, “Black is always equated with failure. Well, write your own dictionary”?
6. Discuss Lynch’s method of “keeping the body and taking the mind.”
7. How do you think Tolson and the other professors at Wiley helped the students to “take their righteous minds back”?
8. Discuss the reason that Farmer, Sr. slaps his son when he brings up the incident when his father apologized to the pig farmer.
9. Reflect on the quote, “The time for justice, the time for freedom, the time for equality is always right now.” Which of the poems we read sends
the same message?
10.How does Dr. Farmer redeem himself in the eyes of his son?
11. Discuss the final speech: James Farmer, Jr: In Texas, they lynch negroes. My teammates and I saw a man strung up by his neck -- and set
on fire. We drove through a lynch mob, pressed our faces against the floorboard. I looked at my teammates. I saw the fear in their eyes; and
worse -- the shame. What was this negro's crime that he should be hung, without trial, in a dark forest filled with fog? Was he a thief? Was he a
killer? Or just a negro? Was he a sharecropper? A preacher? Were his children waiting up for him? And who were we to just lie there and do
nothing? No matter what he did, the mob was the criminal. But the law did nothing -- just left us wondering why. 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, not when negroes are denied housing, turned away from
schools, hospitals -- and not when we are lynched. Saint Augustine said, "An unjust law is no law at all," which means I have a right, even a
duty, to resist -- with violence or civil disobedience. You should pray I choose the latter.
12. What scene in the movie had the greatest impact on you? Why?
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