The Melvin B. Tolson/Denzel Washington Forensics Society of Wiley College has added another historic feat to its list of accomplishments by winning the Overall Sweepstakes Championship of the 2014 Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament. Wiley is the first historically black college to earn this national award.
Wiley’s win comes during a record- making year for Pi Kappa Delta’s prestigous annual tournament – the 2014 event saw 80 schools (with 2,000 entries) competing to prove they have the best forensicators (speech and debate) in the country.
“We earn victories at Pi Kappa Delta each year, but this year’s overall championship victory is especially meaningful to Wiley,” said Dr. Haywood L. Strickland, Wiley’s President and CEO. “ We are pleased that our students performed so well against all these strong teams. Their accomplishment is a clear reflection of the legacy of excellence at Wiley,” he said. “We are grateful to Professor Melvin B. Tolson, Denzel Washington, and all who paved the way for this victory to occur.”
Forensic speech and debate is woven into the fabric of Wiley College. Notably, the College’s 1935 debate team, led by Professor Melvin B. Tolson, defeated the then reigning national forensics champion, University of Southern California. The 2007 movie, “The Great Debaters” tells the story of this competition, and the movie’s star and director, Denzel Washington, donated the funding that helped relaunch the College’s debate team in 2008.
Wiley’s 23-member Forensics Team is coached by Chris Medina. The team will next travel to Tempe, Arizona, to compete in the American Forensics Association Nationals – a tournament of champions for selective student who qualify through earlier high tournament rankings. On the heels of that event, two members of the team will travel to Ypisilanti, Michigan, to compete in the National Forensics Association Nationals.