Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Museum Youth Debate Team

Special to The Dallas Examiner

“Our children have not mastered the art of discussion,” said the late Kathlyn Gilliam, an activist and the first Black female on the Dallas ISD board.

Since her passing in 2011, Gilliam’s vision to improve the lives of African Americans throughout the city through productive dialogue and educational opportunities lives on.

Recently, the Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Museum Youth Debate Team competed and won both rounds of debate at the Atlanta Urban Debate League Tournament Elementary Division at Emory University.

The museum, which was once Gilliam’s home, is a historical landmark that serves as a center to train children in Southern Dallas to become future leaders by providing computer literacy courses, reading camps and a debate center.

Debate team competitions were a very important part of educating youth during the civil rights advocate’s school years and the reason she became a role model in the Black community.

The KJGM debate team is now an extension of that education, teaching children how to have discussions about everyday issues without becoming physical or confrontational.

“It is important that children learn to think outside the box and implement critical thinking in order to succeed in life,” Gilliam said.

At the tournament, three of the museum’s teams showcased their communication skills against students from Atlanta, Georgia, and Laurel, Mississippi. All KJGM students excelled at least one round, with one of the three teams winning both rounds – affirmative and negative – for their capability to successfully debate the competition’s topic, “Americans should invest in locally produced goods rather than globally produced goods.”

Students involved in the tournament were Jaelyn Thomas, Dallas Ross, Skye Turner, Jemarion Alexander, Ava Bolden, Kaylee Green, Sanaa Bryant, Edward Ja Ja Collins and Brayden Brown. Robert E. Edison, a DISD retiree and former debate team coach for the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, coached the Youth Debate Team.

“He is an exceptional instructor and has assisted the students in a huge way,” said Connie Gilliam-Harris, Gilliam’s daughter.

For more information, contact Constance Harris at 469-458-0208 or charris830@sbcglobal.net.


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