Texas Southern University Earns the First National HBCU Debate Championship

This past October, Wiley College in Marshall, Texas was awarded a grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to establish a Historically Black Colleges and Universities Speech and Debate League. The grant money was used to help to establish competitive forensics teams at HBCUs, and offer guidance and management in debate team development.

Wiley College has a rich history in debating. The 1935 debate team at the historically Black college defeated the defending national debate team champion from the University of Southern California. The story was told in the film The Great Debaters starring Denzel Washington.

The debate league held its first national championship at Wiley College late last month. Teams from 22 HBCUs participated in the competition. The team from Texas Southern University emerged as the national champion. The team is now preparing for an international competition in Montreal in March.

Gloria Batiste-Roberts is the coach of the debate team at Texas Southern University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Texas Southern University, a master of social work degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.,  and a doctorate in public health from the University of Texas.


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