Two Black Girls Make History At International Debate Competition


Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Two Black girls from Atlanta made history after winning the annual summer debate competition at Harvard University. 

Jayla Jackson, 16, and Emani Stanton, 17, are the first Black female duo to win Harvard’s international debate competition since the Harvard Debate Council was founded in 1892, beating out more than 100 debaters from around the world.

The Atlanta teens are participants of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project, founded by Harvard’s award-winning debate coach and author Brandon P. Fleming. Fleming proposed the initiative to the university in 2017 as a way to advance on-campus diversity, equity and inclusion at Harvard. 

Jayla and Emani have an undefeated record and brought home the fourth consecutive win for the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project. 

“We did it AGAIN!,” an announcement posted to Instagram exclaimed. “They have shown the world what’s possible when the playing field is leveled,” the post added.

The Harvard Debate Council is one of the oldest organizations at Harvard and hosts a residential program for extraordinary youth each summer. The program includes two weeks of prep and ends with a debate tournament. This year’s program was held virtually due to COVID-19 protocols. 

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