They’re on fire!
Atlanta’s all Black debate team recently won Harvard’s International Debate competition for the third consecutive year, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Known as the “Atlanta Great Debaters,” the group of teens are recruited annually for the Harvard Debate Council Summer Workshops. The program was created as an “educational equity initiative” program and runs for about two weeks, with the youth being trained by Brandon Fleming, the assistant debate coach. The team has only been competing for three years, and they have taken home the trophy every single year.
“I told them that I wanted to build a bridge and provide an opportunity for Black students to learn at Harvard in the summer. The message I want to send to Black kids all around the world, despite the racial stereotypes and no matter who or what tries to limit you – there’s always someone rooting for your success on the other side. And that for us was our community here in Atlanta. So the only thing missing from the equation was [the] opportunity, and that’s what the Harvard Diversity project stands for,” Fleming told Fox 5 Atlanta.
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For the 3rd consecutive year, the Atlanta-based #HarvardDiversityProject brings home the championship from Harvard’s international debate competition, which was held virtually this year. Madison & Christian secured the victory, making history as the first Black girl and the youngest Black boy to win the tournament. During the final round, the judge panel declared their #3peat victory with a perfect 5-0 winning ballot. #HarvardDiversityProject #BlackAtHarvard #ScholarshipMeetsCulture #BlackGirlMagic #BlackExcellence #BlackLivesMatter #BlackTeachers #BlackEducators #BlackScholars #BlackLeaders #BlackThinkers #BlackBooks #BlackAuthors #BlackCulture #BlackJoy #BlackLove #Atlanta #AtlantaLife #AtlantaGreatDebatersadvertisement
In addition to the team’s overall victory, the two members who secured the win made history. Madison Webb became the first Black girl to win the tournament, and Christian Flournoy became the youngest Black boy.
“For our Atlanta team, we may have 10 pairs who are competing in the tournament – giving us 10 chances to win,” Fleming told AJC. “This year, five of those pairs broke past, and one of our pairs, which is Madison and Christian, actually brought the championship home to Atlanta.”
Thousands of students apply to the program, but only about 25 are recruited. The team goes through rigorous training and competes against other students from more than 25 countries.
Flournoy said in addition to debate skills, he has also learned valuable life lessons while being on the team. “One thing I’ve learned from this program is when you stand up and answer a question – if you’re told to sit back down or to think deeper, it’s not about being told to sit back down,” he said. “It’s about having the tenacity and courage to get back up. So I bring that now everywhere that I go.”
Congratulations, Great Debaters!
Photo Courtesy of Christopher House/Harvard Diversity Project