Empowerment

Black High School Debate Team In New Jersey Dominates Sport

These girls are crushing high school debate tournaments and inspiring Black girls in a sport dominated by boys.

“The activity can be sometimes normative or reject people who look like us, but I think us being in the space inspires other girls,” explained North Star Academy debate team member Lynn Yeboah.

Yeboah and teammate Jahne Benthall are policy debaters for the team. Most of the school’s students are from low-income families and the team frequently raises money on social media to be able to attend debates across the country.

This year, Lynn and Jahne tied for first place at the largest and most prestigious high school debate competition in the country, which is held at Harvard. The girls say most of the competitors were white males from wealthy schools with more resources.

“I’m a person who likes to see things big picture-wise. I like to make impacts on people’s lives,” explained Benthall. “So, when we win rounds, we allow other minority groups to see that, although this is a white-dominated sport, that you can also flourish in it.”

The girls were recently invited to the tournament of champions at the University of Kentucky. They hope their passion and success in debate inspires other to join a team.