The NDT National Committee announced 2013 First Round At-Large Bids this past weekend and among the U.S.’s top 16 debate teams are six former urban debaters: Ryan Wash (Debate! Kansas City) from Emporia State; Elijah Smith (Jersey Urban Debate League) from Emporia State; Kevin Hirn (Chicago Debate League) from University of Michigan; Rashid Campbell (Bay Area Urban Debate League) from University of Oklahoma; and Damiyr Davis (New York City Urban Debate League) and Miguel Feliciano (New York City Urban Debate League) both from University of West Georgia.
The oldest and most prestigious team policy debate tournament in the U.S., the National Debate Tournament began at the United States Military Academy in 1947. First round bids are awarded to the top 16 teams from across the country as at-large invitations to the NDT. They represent the 16 best teams in the country based on the previous year’s debate record. This year is not the first year urban debate league alumns were among the NDT finalists, but it is the first time so many debaters from so many different leagues earned First Round bids.
Each of these young men, who have earned their place among the nation’s top tier of policy debaters, began his debate career in an urban debate league. Last year, NAUDL and its leagues served 6,158 urban debaters from 347 public schools in 19 cities across the United States. Seventy-six percent are from low-income families and 86 percent of urban debaters are students of color. Without the NAUDL and its leagues, these students would not have had the opportunity to debate. While competitive debate has always been available to students in suburban schools, twenty years ago it disappeared from the more cash-strapped urban schools. Urban debate programs filled this gap, giving urban students access to the same high-quality debate programs that have always been available to their suburban and private school peers.
Please join us in congratulating these debaters and watch the NAUDL Facebook page for updates on their progress at the NDT.