The Wiley Debate team beating Harvard College in the 1930s.
The purpose of The Wiley College Debate Team is not only to compete at a national and regional level, but also to instill a strong work ethic, a drive for academic excellence, and a spirit of ethical competition in its student leaders.
The Wiley College debate team of 2014 earned the mantle, “The Great Debaters,” the name was bestowed on the team by director-actor Denzel Washington in a movie by the same name which premiered in 2008.
The 23-person team met the best speakers and debaters from 80 colleges and universities sent by 26 states to the Pi Kappa Delta Comprehensive National Tournament staged in Indianapolis, Indiana.
This was the largest Pi Kappa Delta Tournament in their 101-year history. The Great Debaters came away in first place. When the winning totals from the debates and individual events – 2000 entries in all – Wiley College was named champion.
The victory holds special meaning for the Historically Black College. Not only was it the first national speech and debate title won by an HBCU, another moral victory was won.
During Melvin B. Tolson's tenure, Wiley College had not been permitted to join the national forensics fraternity, Pi Kappa Delta, or to participate in its national convention or national championship
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