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In Film[edit]

Denzel Washington directs & stars in The Great Debaters (2007) about Wiley College (Marshall, TX) in the 1930's

In the following clip (at the 6 min mark) see an artistic rendition of the debaters in action and a reception for them at the home of J. Leonard Farmer (played by Forest Whitaker)

Melvin B. Tolson (played by Washington) wrote a column for the Washington Tribune entitled "The Radical Jesus" in which he describes the experience of hearing a masterful sermon, preached on Mother's Day, by Rev. Dr. J. Leonard Farmer.

Farmer was recruited to teach New Testament at Howard Univ. in 1938 by Benjamin Elijah Mays, a son of South Carolina sharecroppers, who was at that time the Dean of the School of Religion and who would go on to become the President of Morehouse College, a mentor to MLK, Jr. and his eulogizer.


Historical Marker Research by Gail K. Beil

Farmer bio at Handbook of Texas Online

Isaiah 2:4

Matthew 6:9

Visions of possibility among people on earth


"My father wrote all the time" says Farmer's son, James, Jr., but virtually all the papers from the 40-year career have been lost.

John and Jesus in their day and ours: social studies in the Gospels (New York : Psycho-Medical Library, 1956) usually available via interlibrary loan