The University of Miami is the 2020 Social Justice Debates National Champion. The UM team of Angelica Fromer, a senior studying international studies and public advocacy, and Delphine Leoue Ngoko Djomo, a sophomore studying political science, brought home the championship after several rounds of intense debate. The topic for this year was The United States Federal Government should provide direct compensation to African-Americans who descended from slaves as reparations for slavery.
“For months, we have been researching and reflecting on race and the legacy of chattel slavery as it impacts society, and also, as it affects us personally. The Social Justice Debates gave us the opportunity to engage in learning discourse with our peers, and with scholars and activists who work with and for repressed communities every day,” said David L. Steinberg, director of debate and associate professor of professional practice.
The UM team of Fromer and Djomo was undefeated in their preliminary debates, advancing into quarterfinals where they won the decision of the judges over the teams from Morehouse and Spelman Colleges. They won their semifinal debate against the University of West Georgia, and prevailed in the finals against The University of Vermont. Djomo was recognized as the fifth place speaker in the tournament, and Fromer was sixth. Also competing for UM was the three person team of first-year students Iman Sami and Leena Yumeen, and senior Artem Sviridov.
“This win was an emotional one. I could not be more proud of our debaters who not only used their hard work and talent to win the debates, but who also used their hearts and conscience to grow and learn from the experience,” said Steinberg.
The topic for the debate was inspired by the scholarship of Professor Roy L. Brooks, the Warren Distinguished Professor of Law and University Professor at the University of San Diego Law School and the author of Atonement and Forgiveness: A New Model for Black Reparations. Dr. Brooks was among the judges for the event, along with sitting court judges, attorneys, professors of ethics and history, political organizers and activists, and debate coaches. Teams debated both sides of the motion. The University of Miami team argued in favor of the topic in quarterfinals and semifinals, but, after having lost the coin toss, opposed the resolution in the final round.
The Social Justice Debates are an annual intercollegiate debate series founded in 2016 by Morehouse College and The George Washington University. The only intercollegiate debate series in the world dedicated to social justice topics, the Social Justice Debates aspire to promote productive and rigorous debates challenging current and future thought leaders to consider issues of justice in relation to the distribution of wealth, opportunity, and privilege in U.S. society. The 2019-20 series began with competitive events at Morehouse College in Atlanta, George Washington University in the District of Columbia, and online. The tournament series culminated with the National Championship held at Morehouse during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.