Nadia Lewis and Jamila Ahmed, African American students at Fresno State University in California, placed first and second at the recent Henry Clay Invitational Debates held at the University of Kentucky. They were the first African American women to earn the top honors in the 42-year history of the competition. Shanara Reid-Brinkley, director of debate at the University of Pittsburgh, told the Fresno State Collegian, “I do believe it is the first time in the history of national debate competition that two African American women have won the top two speakers at any national tournament.”
The Henry Clay Invitational Debates were established in 1971. It is one of the largest varsity debate competitions on U.S. policy issues. The Fresno State team competed against 286 speakers from 30 colleges and universities.
The topic for this year’s debate was: “The U.S. Federal Government should substantially increase statutory and/or judicial restrictions on the war powers authority of the president of the United States in one or more of the following areas: cyber operations, indefinite detention, targeted killing such as drones, and deploying the armed forces into hostile places.”