Atlanta Black Youth Win Big At Harvard Debate Competition

Photos via: Harvard Diversity Project 

Two weeks ago, 25 Atlanta students from the city's Harvard Diversity Project, were sent to Harvard University for its Debate Council's summer residential program - and let's just say they left quite a mark. 

While there, the young scholars competed against students from all over the world in a debate tournament. The 25 students were selected out of 150 applicants as  the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project's inaugural class and represented 16 different metro Atlanta schools. As reported by 11 Alive News, "Throughout the competition, ten of the 12 Atlanta teams advanced to the octo-finals, six went on to the quarter-finals while two teams competed in the semi-finals." 

Jordan Thomas of Atlanta's Grady High School ended up taking home first place for the whole single-elimination tournament. 

“Being a young, middle class, Black, public school student from the South created a stigma that automatically set me back in comparison to the competition, most of who were international students or from preparatory schools in the Northeast,” Thomas said.

“Being a young, middle class, black, public school student from the South created a stigma that automatically set me back in comparison to the competition, most of who were international students or from predatory schools in the Northeast,” Jordan Thomas said.

🎉🎊Congratulations, Jordan, for earning the 1st place ranking at the Harvard Debate Council! You’ve established a legacy for the #HarvardDiversityProject and the city of Atlanta! 🎉🎊

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Thomas added: "I was determined to represent my city and my story. I wanted people to see where I came from and how I could keep up with them. "To bring the championship back to Atlanta was the most satisfying feeling, and to walk onto the campus of one of the most elite universities in the world and meet personal and council goals, brings a unique and new satisfaction that I've never experienced."

During the program, the students also participated in a 10-hour academic regimen and learned about analysis, research, argumentation, and political science from top debate professors and instructors. 

"According to its website, the Harvard Debate Diversity Council Project is "an Atlanta-based pipeline program that recruits, trains, and feeds minority youth into the Harvard Debate Council's summer residential program at Harvard College." The program is set to open applications for the next cohort on August 15. 


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