Teams perform at HBCU National Speech, Debate Tournament
Debate and speech teams came from all over the country to perform at the annual HBCU National Speech and Debate tournament. Students from Howard, Texas Southern, Tennessee State, Wiley College, Morehouse, Hampton, Virginia Union, Rust College, Spelman College, and many more came to VSU’s campus from Feb. 24-26 to compete.
The tournament was held in four of Virginia State’s buildings: Hunter-Mcdaniels, Singleton Hall, Foster Hall, and the Multipurpose Center. Sunday night’s award banquet was held on the arena floor of the MPC.
“I will preface this by saying that this is my second time being able to attend an HBCU Nationals in person and I would say that my biggest takeaway is always just to see how much talent the HBCUs have in different use,” Howard University senior student Brandon Henry said.
Each university brought its very best competitors to compete at the speech and debate tournament.
“It was great seeing all of the collegiate debaters polishing the skills we teach them from a high school level,” Richmond Debate Institute Executive Director Phyl Demetriou said. “So seeing college debaters to me is really great because I see the next evolution of skills that I teach my high schoolers and middle schoolers.”
The tournament was divided into ten events that included IPDA Debate, NPDA Debate, After Dinner Speaking, Dramatic Interpretation, Duo Interpretation, Extemporaneous Speaking, Impromptu Speaking, Informative Speaking, Interviewing, Parliamentary Debate, Persuasive Speaking, Poetry Interpretation, Program Oral Interpretation, Prose Interpretation, and Slam Poetry.
“There are people with varying ranges of ability all over the U.S. and in all 107 HBCUs; it’s just an amazing takeaway,” Henry said. “There’s so much talent out there within our communities.”
After all the ten events were finished competing, the points were tallied up for sweeps with Howard coming in first place with a score of 411.5 points. Following Howard, Tennessee State University came in second place, Texas Southern University came in third place, Wiley College came in fourth place, and Virginia State came in fifth place with a total of 115.5 points.
At the conclusion several VSU students brought home personal wins. Freshman John Poitier won fourth place in Informative Speaking and fifth place in Impromptu Speaking. Senior Lyasia Monroe won sixth place in the Interviewing category. Makayla Reese also won sixth place in the Slam Poetry category.
Demetriou believes that many of the speech and debate skills will be useful for any field that the students plan go into after they graduate.
“Many former debaters go into law, become professors, become consultants, and I will say the best engineers I know are debaters because they have the best ability to explain what their product is,” Demetriou said. “So debaters succeed at almost every field.”