Mercer students make history as first African-American team to win national debate tournament

Georgia Sports
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Two Mercer University students capped off their collegiate careers as the most decorated debaters in the University’s history.

Seniors Kyle Bligen and Jaz Buckley won the 22nd annual National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) National Championship Tournament at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon back on March 26.

Together, the two became the first African-American team to ever win NPDA nationals, nearly three years to the day that Buckley became the first freshman and first African-American to be named top speaker at the tournament.

“This is a national victory. This year, Mercer beat Emory, we beat Georgia Tech, we defeated UC Berkeley, we beat Rice and Notre Dame and Stanford, and defeated or outranked hundreds of different colleges and universities across the entire nation. In national parliamentary debate, only one school can be the best in the entire nation – that school is Mercer University,” said Dr. Vasile Stanescu, assistant professor of communication studies and director of debate at Mercer.

Individually, Bligen, a politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) major from Peachtree City, was named fourth-place speaker, and Buckley, a political science and women’s and gender studies major from Columbus, was named fifth-place speaker.

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