In 2000, the University of Louisville’s Malcolm X debate team set out to change the face of intercollegiate policy debate (IPD) by making it their mission to “increase meaningful black participation” in the activity. The result was two-fold: 1) there has been a significant increase in diversity within intercollegiate policy debate since the start of the “Louisville Project” and 2) there is still work to be done in making debate “meaningful” for this new population of students. This essay intends to initiate a dialogue with coaches regarding our role in making black participation in intercollegiate policy debate meaningful. Meaningful, in this instance, should be understood beyond the scope of competition and more in terms of the preparation of students for life beyond debate. With this in mind, this essay seeks to examine three areas for consideration, the impact of the “Louisville Project” on meaningful black debate participation, student background—such as, first-generation student status, race, class, etc.—and best practices for student development beyond debate competition.



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