Two brilliant Black girls from Atlanta are burning up the news cycle with their undeniable magic. Jayla Jackson and Emani Stanton have become the first Black female duo to win the Harvard Debate Council’s annual summer debate competition at Harvard University.
Each summer the Harvard Debate Council, one of the oldest campus organizations at Harvard University, hosts a summer residential program for hundreds of gifted youth from over 15 countries around the world who converge on campus for two weeks of intensive study, which culminates in a program-wide debate tournament. This year’s residency and competition were held virtually due to COVID-19 protocols and Jayla and Emani came out on top during the “Resolved: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization should substantially increase its defense commitments in the Baltic States” debate.
Jayla, 16, is a rising junior at Holy Innocence Episcopal School. Emani,17, is a rising senior at North Atlanta High School. Both girls are current members of the Atlanta- based Harvard Diversity Project, an initiative founded by Harvard’s award-winning debate coach and author Brandon P. Fleming. In 2017, Harvard accepted Fleming’s proposal to establish the Diversity Project as a means to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus.
According to a press release, Fleming has raised over $1 million to enroll over 100 Black students into the Harvard debate residency on full scholarship. All four cohorts who had little to no debate experience and were trained by Fleming’s unique curriculum have gone on to win the international debate competition at Harvard.
This year, Jayla and Emani secured the 4th consecutive championship for the Atlanta-based team with an undefeated 10-0 record.
“The achievements of this program and our scholars reveals to the world the power of educational equity.” Jackson remarks about the historic win, “We want to use our platform to show people what’s possible when the playing field is leveled for those who need it most.”
Amazing #BlackGirlMagic news! Congrats to these bright young ladies!