When reading about what may be described as the lesser celebrated heroic figures of the Harlem Renaissance, we rarely get a definitive look at just how complicated and sometimes dangerous their everyday lives were.
In fact, until the beginning of the 21st century, many people (if not most) defined the Harlem Renaissance primarily by its well-known literary, musical, and artistic elements while overlooking the fact there was any political component to it at all. The Great Debaters corrects both oversights by providing an extraordinary portrait of poet and educator Melvin B. Tolson (1898-1966), portrayed with convincing restraint by Denzel Washington, who also directed the movie. At the same time, it delivers an exciting story filled with the creative intellectual genius that characterized the Harlem Renaissance, the thrill of youthful romance, and the painful loss of innocence.
Supporter of principles advocated by PEN American Center and the Academy of American Poets, Aberjhani is also the Choice Academic Title Award-winning co-author of the world's first Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance.