Atlanta’s all-Black teen debate team takes Harvard crown again

Langston Hughes High and Westminster students make history in annual competition

Atlanta debate team wins Harvard competition

There are three-peats you know about — Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers — and there’s one you should know about — Atlanta’s “Great Debaters.”

The team of Black teens recently won the Harvard Diversity Project’s International Debate Competition for a third year in a row. Even more impressive is this was just the team’s third year competing.

Not only that, two members made history themselves.

Madison Webb of Langston Hughes High School and Christian Flournoy of the Westminster School “secured the victory,” the Harvard Diversity Project’s Instagram states, “making history as the first Black girl and the youngest Black boy to win the tournament. During the final round, the judge panel declared their #3peat victory with a perfect 5-0 winning ballot.”

“It was a surprise acceptance, and once we were accepted we went through a summer enrichment program and that August is when our year-round training began,” Webb told Fox 5 News.

Brandon Fleming, Harvard’s assistant debate coach, started the Atlanta program as an educational equity initiative for the school.

The Atlanta program recruits about 25 Black youths each year. Fleming trains the teens to compete against gifted kids from around the world.

“I told them that I wanted to build a bridge and provide an opportunity for black students to learn at Harvard in the summer,” Fleming told Fox 5.

The coronavirus pandemic forced this year’s competition and recruiting process to be done virtually. The 2021 team has already been selected and will begin training in August.

“The message I want to send to black kids all around the world, despite all the racial stereotypes and no matter who or what tries to limit you — there’s always someone rooting for your success on the other side. And that for us was our community here in Atlanta,” Webb told Fox 5. “So the only thing missing from the equation was opportunity and that’s what the Harvard Diversity project stands for.”