Team heads to Atlanta for all-star challenge

The Florida A&M University Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Team will participate in its first ever debate against Tennessee State University today.

The forum will be hosted by the 100 Black Men of Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center, as an Atlanta Classic event.

“The Honda All-Star Team traditionally does quiz bowl events,” said Janelle Y. Jennings, 27, a senior English student. “But as a community service activity, the school was invited to participate in this year’s debate,” said the campus coordinator for the HCASC.

The debate will be held in accordance with the Atlanta Classic football game this weekend to advertise and recruit students for both universities.

“We’re using the Atlanta Classic as a tool to promote a scholarship and academic side for both schools, as opposed to the athletic side,” said Jennings.

The 100 Black Men of Atlanta, a non-profit organization, sponsors educational and economic development, mentoring, health and wellness, and other community initiatives.

The debate began in 2002 as an effort to nurture and enhance the academic achievement and personal growth of students in the Atlanta area.

“Last year was the first year we decided to have college students debate at this function,” said Ray Singer, program director for the 100 Black Men of Atlanta.

The challenge will be broken down into two parts. The first is a debate on whose philosophies had more of an impact on society, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or Malcolm X. The second is an open discussion about the impact of hip-hop on the present day society.

The organization requested that both FAMU and TSU participate in this event in August 2006, giving both enough time to research and work on presentations.

“(The HCASC) is great because our children are receiving this information people their own age, making it more interesting for them. It sparks in them, the importance of a college education,” Singer said.

The All-Star Challenge will follow the standard guidelines of a traditional debate. The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The teams will only be permitted four persons to represent both schools, each giving a speech to support their topic.

The open discussion will begin at 12:30 p.m. and end at 2 p.m.

“I felt a little out of my element when I first heard about it,” said Alonzo Alexander, 26, a senior physics student. “But being that the Honda Team is considered a group of scholars that represent the university, why should we not be able to debate?”

With a little more than a month’s notice, the team has met every Saturday in preparation for the event. Some of their materials include speeches and publications written by both King and X, books written about them, and video footage of their contributions.

Neither FAMU, nor TSU will receive any prizes or earnings. But the 100 Black Men of Atlanta will provide accommodations for both teams in Atlanta, and tickets to both the battle of the bands and the football game.

In spring 2007, however, the HCASC will host the traditional Honda Campus Tournament on FAMU’s campus. This is an open opportunity for all underclassmen at FAMU to participate in a brain bowl competition that will lead to the regional competition (also held on FAMU’s campus), and then the national competition.

All historically black colleges and universities with a HCASC team will compete at the nationals with the chance to win their school $51,000. Currently, FAMU has won 6 titles and earned $380,500 to use towards scholarships, recruitment, and school supplies.

“This is a great organization to be part of,” Jennings said. “It promotes individuals to not only to work and think hard on research and topics, but to work on a team as well.”