12/20/2007 AT 01:20 PM EST
, director and star of the Golden Globe-nominated The Great Debaters
, is donating $1 million to Wiley College to re-establish the debate team portrayed in the film.
Washington plays educator and poet Melvin Tolson, who mentored the all-black college's elite debate squad in the 1930s. During an appearance in Marshall, Tex., last week, Washington, 52, said he would like to see the team brought back.