Social Justice Debates
U.S National Championship
Morehouse College 
January 18-20, 2019


The Social Justice Debates aspire to serve as a site of student development, scholarship, and publication on social justice topics. On Saturday students will present and refine their research, arguments, and presentations in preliminary rounds judged by debate alumni and coaches. On Sunday the top four teams from preliminary rounds will orally publish their research and arguments to multidisciplinary panels of stakeholders in semifinal and championship debates to decide the 2019 Social Justice Debates U.S. National Champions. In the process participating students will have the opportunity to contribute to ongoing discussions of social justice topics across the disciplines while developing themselves as scholars, citizens and professionals.   


University speech regulations intended to protect racial minorities color do more to harm than good for the racial minorities the regulations are intended to protect. 

Topic Statement

Why would you entrust authority with enlarged powers of regulating the speech of unpopular minorities unless you were confident that unpopular minorities would be racists, not Blacks?

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., War of Words: Critical Race Theory and the First Amendment, 1996 

For the 2018-19 Social Justice Debates Selected Scholar, the Walter E. Massey Leadership Center at Morehouse College has supported Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, and his scholarship on hate speech including his book chapter, ""War of Words: Critical Race Theory and the First Amendment."

In War of Words, Professor Gates suggests speech regulations intended to protect minorities are destined to be used against them. In doing so, Professor Gates quotes critical race theorist Charles Lawrence for the proposition that “by framing the debate as we have—as one in which the liberty of free speech is in conflict with the elimination of racism—we have advanced the cause of racial oppression and placed the bigot on the moral high ground, fanning the rising flames of racism.”

During the 2019 U.S. National Championship at Morehouse College, teams assigned to the affirmative side of the topic will defend the proposition that university speech regulations intended to protect people of color are, on balance, detrimental to the people of color the regulations are intended to protect. Negative teams will have the burden of rebutting this contention.


The terms of debate described in the Judges Handbook are incorporated by reference.

Students will compete in teams of two debaters each. Teams will be assigned to affirm or negate the topic.

Each speaker will give one 6 minute speech, be cross examined for 4 minutes, and cross examine an opposing debater for 4 minutes. In addition one speaker on each team will also give a 6 minute closing rebuttal. Over the course of the four preliminary rounds, each speaker on teams of two must give two closing rebuttals for their team and their partner must give two closing rebuttals for their team. 


1st Affirmative 6 Minutes

Cross examination by 2nd Negative 4 minutes

1st Negative 6 minutes

Cross examination by 1st Affirmative 4 minutes

2nd Affirmative 6 minutes

Cross examination by 1st Negative 4 minutes

2nd Negative 6 minutes

Cross examination by 2nd Affirmative 4 minutes

2 minutes of preparation time

Affirmative Rebuttal 6 minutes

2 minutes of preparation time

Negative Rebuttal 6 minutes


9:00 Check in

10:00 Round 1

11:30 Round 2

1:00 Lunch

2:30 Round 3

4:00 Round 4

6:00 Quarterfinals 


9:00 am Semifinals

11:00 Eastern Championship


Everyone is asked to attend the championship round and awards reception at 11:00 on Sunday.

Dress on Sunday is business casual. If possible, please avoid blue jeans, sneakers or t shirts if you are debating on Sunday before panels.


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