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Black youth are displaying excellence in academia. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a group of Atlanta scholars took home the title at an annual debate competition hosted by the Harvard Debate Council.

This was the second consecutive year that the Atlanta Great Debaters won the international tournament organized by the Ivy League school. In preparation for the debate the team—who is predominately made up of students of color—participated in a two-week summer program focused on public speaking, competitive debating and political science. After the workshops the students ended their experience with a program tournament; competing against over 400 scholars from around the globe. The students were placed on teams of two.

High schoolers Keith Harris and Don Roman Jr. went undefeated in the tournament. “It sends a message to the world to what African American youth are capable of, if they are given access and opportunities,” Brandon P. Fleming, founder of the Harvard Diversity Project. “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.”

Both Harris and Roman were excited to take home the title. They both hope that their win will inspire other Black students to join debate teams. “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,” Roman told the news outlet.

Program organizers are now gearing up for the 2020 residency.


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