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Towson University Boasts 1st Black Women’s Team to Win National Debate Tournament

Baltimoresun.com (handoutphoto)

Baltimoresun.com (handoutphoto)

Two Towson University students edged out 170 other teams to win a national debate championship held in Indiana this week, the second time in recent years a Towson team has netted national debate honors.

Ameena Ruffin and Korey Johnson, both from Baltimore, bested a team from the University of Oklahoma in the final round. Their argument likened police brutality, the prison-industrial complex and structural poverty issues to a warlike violence against African-Americans in the U.S. and identified solutions.

Ruffin and Johnson are the first black women to win a national debate championship tournament, according to the Cross Examination Debate Association. Another Towson team won at the same championship in 2008.

Amber Kelsie, one of two coaches for Towson’s debate program, compared the Cross Examination Debate Association national championship to the “Super Bowl” of debate championships. The students are preparing for a second challenge, the National Debate Tournament, later this week at the same location, Indiana University.

The Towson debate team was at the center of a controversy last fall when its members said the university was preventing it from participating in a tournament at Harvard University. Towson eventually relented and the team took part in that competition.

Johnson, an 18-year-old sophomore, called the win “surreal.” The team spent untold hours poring over books, articles and other publications to craft their arguments, then took more time to practice their delivery strategies, she said.

“The arguments we construct are like mini-dissertations,” Johnson said. “One of our strongest things is being adaptable, not just to our opponents, but when you get judges, you have to assume that they’re susceptible to certain types of arguments.”

Kelsie said both teams in the final round agreed that police brutality, the prison-industrial complex and structural poverty issues amounted to a “warlike violence” against Black people in the U.S. But she said Ruffin and Johnson argued that the issue could be overcome not by focusing on the negative of the situation, as the opposing team did, but by imagining a better future.

Now Ruffin, 21, and Johnson are designated among the top 16 debate teams in the country. Ruffin placed second and Johnson placed fourth in the individual rankings.

“I’m beside myself,” Kelsie said. “They’re just amazing, remarkable young women.”

Source: baltimoresun.com

What people are saying

5 thoughts on “Towson University Boasts 1st Black Women’s Team to Win National Debate Tournament

  1. Krystyna Cintorino says:

    LMAO what a joke.

  2. Chelle Adkins says:

    There goes college debate!

  3. Nancy Agarwal says:

    You should be embarrassed.

  4. Desiree' Espinosa says:

    Yeah, this sounds waaaayyyy different from the accounts I've heard from other sources. I notice no mention that the girls employed the use of the "N" word more than a dozen times, and that the language that was used can be described, at best, as sup-par

  5. Kani Kahapea says:

    The art of collegiate debate has recinded to baby talking jibberish and vile racial slurs.

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