Public Debating Showcases Oratorical Skills Akin to Illinois ’s Greatest Son

On December 12th and 13th, the Motorola Foundation Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Debates brought together some of the most accomplished Varsity debate teams in the Chicago Debate League. Amundsen, Kelly, Kelvyn Park , King, Lincoln Park , Morgan Park, South Shore , and Whitney Young were the participating schools, representing all three Conferences of the Chicago Debate League. The Motorola Foundation sponsored the Abraham Lincoln Debates in order to celebrate the rhetorical eloquence and incisive and analytical political oratory of perhaps our country’s greatest President, born 200 years ago this month.

DePaul University hosted preliminary debates between all eight schools on December 12th . The topics were matters of civic importance to Chicagoans, including the issues of gang violence, the application of high-stakes testing requirements in public schools, the consideration of race in college admissions, and tightening enforcement of immigration laws. The judges and observers of these debates were members of the public on the DePaul campus, in addition to coaches and debaters in the Chicago Debate League. Prior to the competition, the eight debate programs participated in a series of training seminars on the Abraham Lincoln Debates format, and were provided with research-starters on all of the topics. Debate teams put in 100 or more hours apiece in preparation.

On Saturday, the top four debate teams after the Preliminary Rounds were invited to the final two debates, hosted by Lincoln Park High School . The Semi-Final Round, matching the third and fourth seeded teams (Amundsen and Kelvyn Park ), was on a topic considering the U.S. ’s technology future, and was judged by, among other VIPs, several senior officers of the Motorola Corporation. Kelvyn Park prevailed in a split decision. The Final Round, between Whitney Young and King College Prep, was on this urgent topic: “Resolved: That President-elect Obama’s proposed economic stimulus package can end the current recession.

Observers, including many of the Varsity debate teams from across the city, reported that this debate was one they would not soon forget, its level of sophistication and rhetorical attainment was notably high. “The debaters in the Final Round simply bowled me over,” said emcee Robin Robinson, the anchorwoman on Fox News. “Every time I thought that one side had made an irrefutable argument, the other side would stun me with an ingenious rebuttal. These young people truly are the future leaders of our city and our nation.” The VIP panel determined the winner. The Moderator — CPS graduate, CDL alumnus, Harvard Law School graduate, and Hollywood actor Voltaire Sterling — announced Whitney Young as the Champion of the Motorola Foundation Abraham Lincoln Debates.