2009 Archives

Wiley College team debates SMU 74 years after meet was canceled


The following is from the Feb. 26, 2009, edition of The Dallas Morning News.

February 26, 2009

The Dallas Morning News

Wednesday night's debate between teams from Southern Methodist University and Wiley College was 74 years in the making.

Debate between Wiley College and SMU on Feb. 25, 2009
See a slide show from the debate camera or watch the two debates. See SMU at Wiley video icon on Jan. 23 or Wiley at SMU video icon on Feb. 25.
The debate team from the historically black college in Marshall, Texas, was made famous in 2007's The Great Debaters, which starred Denzel Washington.

That team had debated 75 times and lost only once between 1929 and 1939 under the guidance of poet Melvin B. Tolson, including a 1935 win over the national champions from the University of Southern California.

SMU and Wiley debate teams were supposed to compete in 1935, but the debate was called off, many suspect because of negative publicity stemming from Tolson's arrest for civil rights activism. It would have been the first time a white school hosted a debate against a black college.

"We consider this a meeting of an unfulfilled promise," said SMU professor and debate coach Ben Voth.

Both teams are in their first year of competition after being re-formed in the fall.

Read the full story and see the video. video icon

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