Professor Melvin B. Tolson and his debate team became the first to represent a black college in a debate against a major white University. But it was against the University of Southern California, and not Harvard as portrayed in the movie "The Great Debaters".
From 1930 on Tolson began creating poetry, and in 1941 Dark Symphony, often considered his greatest work, was published in Atlantic Monthly. In 1944 Tolson published his first poetry collection, A Rendezvous with America. The Washington Tribune hired Tolson to write a weekly column, Cabbage and Caviar after he left his teaching position at Wiley in the late 1940s. In 1965 Tolson's final work, the long poem Harlem Gallery, was published. The poem concentrates on African American life and is a drastic departure from his first works. (below) Tolson as a youngster
As depicted by Denzel Washington in the movie "The Great Debaters"