This week, Ameena Ruffin, 21, and Korey Johnson, 18, became the first Black women to win the Cross Examination Debate national championship.
"I'm beside myself," Amber Kelsie, a Towson debate coach, told The Baltimore Sun.
"They're just amazing, remarkable young women."
As members of the Towson University Debate Team, the young women from Baltimore claimed the national title after defeating Oklahoma in the final round.
"Their argument likened police brutality, the prison-industrial complex and structural poverty issues to a warlike violence against African-Americans in the U.S. and identified solutions," according to The Baltimore Sun.
Kelsie said that Ruffin and Johnson "argued that the issue could be overcome not by focusing on the negative of the situation, as the opposing team did, but by imagining a better future."
The winners also edged out more than 100 teams from elite schools including Harvard, NYU, Michigan, Trinity, Vanderbilt and more.
“No African-American woman has ever won our tournament before,” confirmed Mike Davis, CEDA president.
Having earned a first round bid to the 2014 National Debate Tournament, the winners will continue on to compete against 15 of the best debate teams in the nation. This year's First Round Teams hail from Georgetown, Cal-Berkeley, Northwestern and Harvard, among other prestigious institutions.
“It requires a tremendous amount of work,” said Johnson, adding that she studies and practices for about four to five hours on a normal day.
“I think we've improved by learning what type of debaters we are, and playing to our strengths,” she said.
“I have learned to do tremendous amounts of work while still taking care of myself and not stressing out too much.”
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(Photo: Towson University/Handout)