Minnie Jackson, an African-American maid, is the brunt of a dehumanizing conversation by the white families that employ her and her peers. One of the women, Hilly, refuses to use the bathroom because it has been used by a black maid. She suggests that the maid use an outhouse because "they carry different diseases." Hilly exacerbates the situation by telling her friends that she is pushing for an initiative to mandate that every white home has a separate bathroom for the colored folk.
Dre gives an overview of the history of the United States public education system as it relates to segregation and opportunity for black students. He highlights the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case and how it forced schools to integrate. He also mentions the positive impact of integration on academic achievement and expresses disappointment that schools have become more segregated than ever since the overturn of the mandatory integration ruling.
The plot of The Great Debaters revolves around the efforts of debate coach Melvin B. Tolson at a historically black Wiley College to place his team on equal footing with whites in the American South during the 1930s. The movie explores the social fabric of Texas during the Great Depression, for which as long as schools are segregated for whites and blacks, the quality of education will be vastly unequal.