Denzel Washington's new movie giving hope to black college revival





It isn’t every day that a financially struggling institution finds itself the subject of a much-hyped movie. The resulting buzz about the small college has already led to an initial outpouring of pledges from donors, many of whom had never heard of it before — and the movie won’t even come out until Christmas.

Even more unusual is the subject matter: Rather than a by-the-book tale chronicling the rise of an underdog athletic team or Ivy League intrigue, the film examines a true story about a college debate team that overcame the rigid prejudices of a white-only league in the 1930s.

The response is encouraging to officials at Wiley College, a historically black institution in Marshall, Texas, about 140 miles east of Dallas. Mindful of black colleges’ academic and financial challenges since traditionally white institutions began recruiting minority students, college leaders hope the film, The Great Debaters, will lead to more student interest in debating and an end to the financial woes that have plagued Wiley for years.

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