chapter  1
Take No Prisoners
The Role of Debate in a Liberatory Education
ByBrittney Cooper
Pages 11

This chapter offers a brief history of debate within Black communities in the period between Emancipation and the Civil Rights Movement, with a particular focus on debate activities from the 1920s through the 1960s. Community debate programs and the emergence of collegiate debate in this period fit on the one hand with the importance of debate in the creation and cementation of a Black public sphere, but it also sets the stage for the cultures of debate that emerge during the Civil Rights Movement. Murray suggests that access to a debate team and other modern forms of extracurricular activity increased the rigor of her educational experience and chipped away at the sense of inferiority that a separate and unequal system of public education had produced in Black children, an argument that would be critical to the overturning of the Plessy decision in 1954.