- Emani Stanton and Jayla Jackson are the first Black female duo to win Harvard’s debate competition.
- Their victory is the fourth time an Atlanta team has won the prestigious annual summer debate competition.
- The power duo won all 10 rounds, with the topic: “Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially increase its defense commitments in the Baltic States.”
“It is still mind-blowing for us. We went in there, and we did it.”
For the first time in the history of the Harvard Debate Council, two Black girls from Atlanta were declared as champions of the university’s prestigious annual summer debate competition.
Emani Stanton, 17, and Jayla Jackson, 16, battled against 100 other debaters from different parts of the world. In all 10 rounds, the power duo remained unfazed and undefeated!
“The bar has been raised, and that’s a good thing for people and for girls of color all around the world,” Jayla, a rising junior at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta, said proudly.
Each summer, the Harvard Debate Council hosts a summer residential program that culminates in a program-wide debate tournament. For the past four years, the Harvard Debate Council Diversity project has been recruiting and training Black youth from Atlanta to compete.
It was through this program when Emani and Jayla met and realized how perfectly complementing they are as debate partners. Emani’s analytical brain was truly a perfect balance to Jayla’s more creative thinking.
“Once we started sharpening our skills, it became a game of chess finding a partner that complements you,” Jayla said.
In fact, this year marks the fourth consecutive championship of students from the program, according to its Instagram post. The topic of the debate was, “Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially increase its defense commitments in the Baltic States.”
“They have shown the world what’s possible when the playing field is leveled!” the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project Instagram post said.
For the power duo, this is a symbolic win for Black girls acing the academe.
“Every time we would win a round, the pressure just got more and more,” Emani said. “Jayla would pray for us and her faith got me through it. For me, it’s a catalyst to go harder. It’s a catalyst for the next door that I walk into to create a space where we can combine this scholarship and this culture to have more Black girls dominating these academic spaces.”