Fresno State Debaters Are First Black Women to Win Big

debate-black-women-worth-campaignTwo awesome young women at Fresno State University (California) made history in October winning the Henry Clay Invitational Debates in 1st and 2nd place. The young women, Nadia Lewis and Jamila Ahmed, are definitely shining.

The annual debates took place this year the University of Kentucky. Established in 1971, it is one of the largest and oldest debate tournaments in the country. And, in its 42 years, there have never been two black women leading the pack of winners. Both Ahmed and Lewis are novice debaters, in their second and first years, respectively. Lewis won first place and is now ranked 29th in the nation while Ahmed won second place and is now ranked 16th in the nation. Most of the other students had several years of debate experience and training.

These young women didn’t let their lack of experience deter them from their goals. And, they didn’t allow the experience of their peers to intimidate them. Not only that, they excelled in a highly competitive environment which was relatively new to them.  But, they put their own spin on it.

According to CSU Fresno’s publication The Collegian:

“In U.S. policy debate, a topic is chosen by the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) and is voted on by all university debate members. After a topic is chosen, four resolutions are then drafted by CEDA.

These resolutions then can be used by the teams during their debates.

This year’s topic was: “The U.S. Federal Government should substantially increase statutory and/or judicial restrictions on the war powers authority of the president of the United States in one or more of the following areas: cyber operations, indefinite detention, targeted killing such as drones, and deploying the armed forces into hostile places.”

Lewis and Ahmed are non-traditional debaters, which means they read poetry, sing, draw metaphors to the topic and criticize the structure of debate as it exists today. They also have a constant theme of the oppression of  African-American women throughout their debates.”

Though non-traditional, these two young ladies proved that their individual stories and backgrounds were certainly good enough to beat out seasoned competitors. They remained true to themselves – presenting their race and gender as core influences in their debate style – without care for what is traditionally accepted and expected in national level debates. They metaphorically compared their debate prompts to the struggles black women face in this country everyday. And, their efforts, though never done before, were rewarded handily.

Not enough can be said about great stories like these. They continue to show that when one embraces one’s own strengths, talents, and worth, one can do much more than has ever been done before. These young women are certainly shining examples for women of color everywhere.worthSignature