Robert Farnsworth: Beyond the Great Debaters: The Real Melvin B. Tolson
Celebrate the 115th birthday of Melvin Tolson, a one-time Kansas City resident who graduated from Lincoln High School and eventually became the first Poet Laureate of Liberia.
Start with a screening of the 2007 Denzel Washington film The Great Debaters, the Hollywood version about how Tolson led black college students to a 1935 national debate championship.
Following a brief intermission, Tolson biographer Robert Farnsworth, UMKC professor emeritus of English, looks beyond the movie to examine Tolson’s achievements in his chosen field of poetry. Carmaletta Williams will read samples of Tolson’s work.