HOUSTON – The world-renowned Debate Team at Texas Southern University received a proclamation from Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Councilman Dwight Boykins in honor of their win at the inaugural HBCU National Speech and Debate Championship Tournament in January. Mayor Turner declared June 19 as Texas Southern University Debate Team Day in Council chambers at City Hall.
The Debate Team was awarded the tournament’s championship trophy on January 28 at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. The three-day tournament that began on January 25 featured teams from 22 historically Black colleges and universities from across the country. TSU’s debaters earned 20 trophies in multiple categories, including the individual events sweepstakes championship, and overall sweepstakes and debate sweepstakes championships. Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Wiley College at the closing ceremony for his work in the film, The Great Debaters, which shined a spotlight on the accomplishments of debate teams at HBCUs.
TSU’s Debate Team’s rich history dates back to 1949, under the leadership of Dr. Thomas F. Freeman, professor emeritus. Dr. Freeman, 98, is in his 68th year at Texas Southern and continues to work with the team. TSU debaters have garnered several international titles during its existence, including the International Forensics Association Speech and Debate Tournament championship in March in Montreal, Canada.
Dr. Gloria Batiste-Roberts is the current head coach of TSU’s Debate Team. Assistant coaches Wendell King II and Sondera Malry, along with graduate assistants Shekia Rogers and Okwildilli Onyekawelu, supported the team to victory. Antréchelle Dorsey is the Debate Team president.