College hopes new movie sparks revival

Dec. 5, 2007
Film depicts 1930s glory days of now-struggling Wiley College

Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, like many black colleges, has struggled for survival ever since, and even reached the brink of collapse. This year, professors and staff members accepted unpaid furloughs. But later this month, “The Great Debaters" will appear in theaters; the film depicts Wiley’s most glorious chapter: 1935, when the black poet and professor Melvin B. Tolson coached his debating team to a national championship. No one knows whether the story will raise the college’s fortunes, but Wiley is suddenly feeling the glow of celebrity. Enrollment has climbed past 900 for the first time in at least 40 years. The administration building has received a face lift, compliments of the moviemakers, who also manicured the campus with new greenery.

Click here to read The New York Times article.

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