Two-time Academy award-winner Denzel Washington is continuing to make good on his pledge to support the debate team at Wiley College, according to Black Enterprise.
The HBCU announced that their debate team recently received the next installment of financial support from the Denzel Washington Family Foundation. Funds provided by Denzel Washington’s Family Foundation “cover signing up debate team representatives who want to embrace the challenge of membership. Additionally, money is used to fund their scholarships.”
“Supporting the next generation of brilliant minds in the art of debate at Wiley College will open so many doors of opportunity for these students during college, career, and beyond,” Denzel Washington said while paying a visit to the campus in 2018 for a debate competition. “We are honored to continue supporting the best and the brightest in the land and look forward to The Great Debaters continuing to do what they do best: win.”
Washington’s foundation made an initial $1 million commitment in 2007 by donating $100,000 per year for a decade to relaunch the debate team that had been defunct since Tolson left Wiley in 1947.
“We are grateful for the Washington family’s generosity for 15 years and counting to Wiley College’s phenomenal debate team, which, because of this support, can live out our motto to ‘Go forth Inspired,’” said Dr. Herman J. Felton, President of Wiley College. “Being a dominant force as home of The Great Debaters makes us a very attractive option for those skilled in debate, and this financial support further amplifies the benefits of becoming a Wiley debate scholar.”
Because of Washington's generosity, students such as Jaylon Bolden, a recent Wiley graduate and former debate team member who received $80,000 in scholarship support from the foundation, are greatly impacted by the rich legacy of Wiley College.
“All throughout high school I just knew I was going to play football in college, but we make plans and God laughs. Coming to Wiley to be a part of the Tolson/Washington Forensics Society was divine intervention,” Bolden said. “I was a part of a legacy that was so much bigger than I could ever imagine. Traveling the country to compete on behalf of my college, being a leader on campus, and having it paid for by Mr. Washington, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”
In 2007, Washington starred in The Great Debaters, portraying Melvin B. Tolson, Wiley College’s renowned debate team coach. During the 1930s, under Tolson’s watchful eye, Wiley College’s debate teams began a 10-year record of beating the competition. Tolson also played a significant role in barriers for integrating collegiate debates during segregation