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First Black Girl Duo Wins Harvard’s International Debate Competition

"They have shown the world what's possible when the playing field is leveled!" Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project wrote on Instagram

Black History

Jayla Jackson and Emani Stanton are the first two Black girls to win Harvard's international debate. (Photo: @harvarddcdp/Instagram)
By: Alyssa Wilson

History has been made at Harvard’s international debate competition where two Black girls became the first-ever Black girl duo to win the competition.  

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Jayla Jackson and Emani Stanton came out victorious against more than 100 hundred other debaters with an undefeated record. This is the fourth consecutive year the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project (HDCDP) took home a championship win.  

The subject of the debate was “Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Group ought to considerably improve its protection commitments within the Baltic States,” according to Girls United. Jackson, a 16-year-old rising junior, and Stanton, a 17-year-old rising senior, both learned from Brandon B. Fleming.  

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Fleming, the founder of HDCDP and an Assistant Debate Coach, tweeted about the accomplishment saying, “#BlackGirlMagic We did it AGAIN!” 

The program strives to promote “educational equity by creating opportunities for underserved youth to gain exposure and access to academic training that will distinguish them as top candidates in the college admissions process.”  

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As part of the Harvard Debate Council, the program is based in Atlanta and is a pipeline program responsible for recruiting and training Black youth into a summer debate residency at Harvard College. Recruited students spent ten months on Saturdays undergoing training where they are introduced to debate through academic avenues such as public speaking.  

During its first year, the program gained national attention and financial support from the Chick-fil-A Foundation, the Coca-Cola Company, Kaiser Permanente, UPS, Publix Super Markets, the Atlanta Hawks and Turner Broadcasting. These companies now fund scholarships for students to study at Harvard each summer. 

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Program alumni have gone on to attend various academic institutions such as Pepperdine, Stanford, Yale, Duke, Howard and Harvard University.