Seventy years later, Wiley College does it again. “The Great Debaters” honed and their skills in preparation for the debate with University of Southern California, Wiley came out as a successor “Making History … Again!”
MARSHALL- Even before African-American athletes became household names by eclipsing racial milestones in sports, a group of students from Wiley College in Marshall were making similar inroads in the arena of collegiate debate. “It’s amazing their story is so little-known,” says Lloyd Thompson. In the fall of 1923, Melvin B. Tolson took a teaching job at Wiley, a small, all-black college where he wore many hats. In 1924, he founded the Forensic Society of Wiley College. “The Great Debaters” from the Melvin B. Tolson/Denzel Washington Forensics Society, claimed their first Individual Events National Championship title at the National Christian College Forensics Association Tournament in Siloam Springs, ARin 2013.The win makes Wiley the first Historically Black College or University to earn a national team forensics championship title. The Great Debaters placed second in combined Overall Team Sweepstakes. The team also made a historic accomplishment by “closing out” the final round of Novice Poetry. Wiley’s debaters earned 35 awards during the tournament, bringing the school’s year-to-date trophy count to 321.