Atlanta girls make history with Harvard debate competition win


Two teenagers from Atlanta have made history as the first Black female partners to win Harvard’s international debate competition.

Every summer, hundreds of high-school students from around the world meet at Harvard to study and compete in a program-wide debate tournament.

Despite this year being virtual due to COVID-19, the students of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project once again won the competition for the fourth year in a row. And it’s only the team’s fourth year in the program.

This year 16-year-old Jayla Jackson, a rising junior at Holy Innocents Episcopal School, and 17-year-old Emani Stanton, a rising senior at North Atlanta High School, took the grand prize in the debate of “Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially increase its defense commitments in the Baltic States,” Black Enterprise reported.

The students of the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project are known as great debaters for a good reason.

The Atlanta program recruits and trains highly-motivated Black youth for a summer debate residency at Harvard, putting them in position for scholarships to elite schools.

“I told them that I wanted to build a bridge and provide an opportunity for black students to learn at Harvard in the summer,” Debate coach and program founder Brandon Fleming told FOX 5 in 2020.

Thousands of students apply to be a part of the project each year, but only about 25 to 30 are selected.

The new team leaders have already been selected and will begin training at the beginning of August.