On Feb. 19-21, the University of Miami Debate Team competed in the championship tournament of the 2020-2021 Social Justice Debates advancing to the final round. 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.

Debating the issue of Defunding Police and Abolishing Policing, UM student debaters Delphine Leoue Ngoko Djomo and Micah Council advanced into the final round of competition, finishing the tournament in second place. They were declared winners in three out of four of their preliminary debates advancing into the quarterfinals where they debated Howard University. The judges selected The Hurricanes as winners over Howard, moving them on to semifinals, where they won the decision over The George Washington University. In an outstanding and close championship round, the judges selected Morehouse College as the winner of the Social Justice Debates.

“I really enjoyed engaging in these important and timely conversations with brilliant students with similar interests as me from across the country,” said Council. “And hearing the thoughts and feedback of professionals who are profoundly passionate about social justice and reform had a big impact on me,” he added.

Event organizer, and coach of the winning team from Morehouse, Professor Kenneth Newby said, “It is always a pleasure to watch the University of Miami debate. Their depth of analysis, creative argumentation, and rhetorical savvy are impressive. As last year’s defending Social Justice champions, they did not disappoint in their performance this year.”

David Steinberg, University of Miami director of debate, shared that he is “extremely pleased and excited about the competitive success of our team.”

“But the best thing about the event is that students engage the real voices of the movement. They are able to build meaningful advocacy, learn directly from the stakeholders and experts, and network and participate with passionate voices in a learning dialogue about the issues and policies that shape their lives,” said Steinberg.

Newby explained that “the final round was judged by an L.A. Superior Court Judge, the executive director of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board, a professor of legal studies and social justice advocate, a practicing attorney, an English professor, an assistant district attorney, and a member of a disability rights organization.”

“Learning and debating these issues has helped me expand my thoughts and reasoning on deeply complex problems,” said Leoue Ngoko Djomo of the experience.

During this academic year, there were three virtual Social Justice Debate Events, with this weekend’s competition hosted by Morehouse College determining the Champion. The judges for the event are not debate coaches, but rather, experts, activists and professionals directly involved in the study, advocacy and promotion of Social Justice. Visit https://www.social-justice-debates.org/ to learn more about the Social Justice Debates.