An all-Black debate team from Atlanta, once again took top honors and sprinkled their magic at the Harvard University International Debate Competition.
In 2018, they made history as the first all-black team to win the prestigious competition.
“This is the moment that we’ve worked so hard for,” said Don Roman Jr, 17, a senior at North Atlanta High School told WSB. “Our accomplishment is far bigger than us. We are showing the world what black youths are capable of achieving when given equal access, exposure, and opportunities. This win is for our ancestors, our city, and most of all our culture.”
Harvard Debate Council, which runs the annual summer program, divided nearly 400 participants, including high school students from Asia, Europe and Russia, into teams for the competition.
Brandon P. Fleming, an assistant debate coach at Harvard, cultivated the tough-to-beat Atlanta team. He also is the founder of the Harvard Diversity Project.
“It sends a message to the world to what African American youth are capable of, if they are given access and opportunities,” Fleming told WSB. “Most of our students have never been exposed to the power of academic debate. Knowing that they will compete against hundreds of scholars who have years of debate experience, combined with the benefit of private and prep schools to their advantage, we seek to level the playing field by introducing our students to higher level academic disciplines that are typically unavailable in traditional school settings.”
Fleming fashioned his team with the name ‘The Great Debaters’, after the notable Wiley College’s debate squads in the 1920s and 1930s that was also the subject of a 2007 movie starring Denzel Washingon.