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Detroit girls make history at debate competition

Posted: 6:15 PM, Apr 22, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-22 18:16:01-04

Their story looks like one made for Hollywood. 

For example, remember the movie, "The Great Debaters”? It told the true story of African American college students who blazed a trail in the debate world.

Compare that to the story of two girls from a high school in Detroit.

Tiera Colvin and Tamara Morrison are seniors at University Prep Academy. They have put in countless hours of study for the debate team. It has paid off.

Earlier this month, the two did something monumental at the Urban Debate League’s National Championship in San Fransisco.

“We were the first African American women to ever actually win the tournament” said Tamara.

The win gave them pride, confidence, and recognition, but it also made them ask a question.

“What’s going on that we’re the first to win it” asked Tiera.

The noticed two things.

One - girls in debate face a male dominated competition - where most judges are men.

And Two - Debate is expensive. The large established teams come from wealthier schools.

They believe they won because they have grit.

"We embraced the struggle and know that the struggle is what is going to make us strong enough to endure anything that comes with this activity,” said Tamara.

Their coach and principal backed them up knowing they are part of historic progress that could inspire change, and they say they aren’t done.

The win in San Fransisco qualified Tiera and Tamara for a tournament at the University of Kentucky this month.

“The tournament of champions is the Super Bowl of debates,” said Sharon Hopkins, the Debate Team Coach.

If they win that tournament, once again they will break barriers. No African American female team has ever won the Tournament of Champions.

“I want to get into finals and I want to win,” said Tiera.

“We’re doing the hard work and doing the preparations to make sure that bcomes reality,” said Tamara.

While many teams have more resources they have been able to make history because their schools is behind them. It is asking for the community to donate to them to make their work possible. You can do so at uprepschools.com/get-involved .

“The donations will be very helpful,” said Camille Hibbler, Principal of University Prep Academy.

Their principal says it has been amazing to see the girls inspire the entire school.

The message they send, progress still needs to be made and these teens, their generation, will be part of it.

“It is a huge honor and responsibility, but I am ready to take it on,” said Tiera.

“You just have to believe in yourself and you can make whatever is believed to be impossible possible,” said Tamara.