Denzel Washington Continues To Preserve 'The Great Debaters' Legacy With A $1 Million Donation

"Through his support of Wiley College, he has preserved the legacy of the original Great Debaters, while also ensuring that current generations of students can carry forward Tolson's legacy of excellence."

Photo credit:Photo: LES HASSELL/NEWS-JOURNAL PHOTO

| February 06 2018,

4:41 pm

Denzel Washington never ceases to amaze us. A few weeks ago, actress Susan Kelechi Watson mentioned his philanthropy work and how he impacted her life and career, and now he has renewed his $1 million pledge to Wiley College to help fund its debate program.

Washington first donated in 2007 to revive the program which had been inactive since the early 1900s when it was led by English professor and poet Melvin B. Tolson, who was born on February 6, 1898. You may remember that name from the film The Great Debaters, in which Denzel starred as Tolson and directed.

Washington announced the gift in January during the award ceremony for the nation's first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Speech and Debate Championship Tournament where he was inducted into the newly-formed HBCU Forensics Hall of Fame for his contributions in raising awareness around the world about the value of debate education.

"We are thankful to Mr. Washington for his generous gift to sustain our debate program and ensure its longevity," said Dr. Haywood L. Strickland, President and CEO of Wiley College.  "Through his support of Wiley College, he has preserved the legacy of the original Great Debaters, while also ensuring that current generations of students can carry forward Tolson's legacy of excellence. We are forever indebted to him."