On Sunday, July 7th, Jayla Hemphill delivered the following address:
Good morning, my name is Jayla and I’ll be a senior at Northfield High School this coming school year. First and foremost, I see/I’m sure that I share the feeling of gratitude with many people in the room for the diverse group of people here today, all under one cause. Thank you all for being here, and more importantly, writing history with your black peers and myself.
I haven’t commented much on the recent events in the United States, I didn’t have the words until today, at 3 in the morning to be exact. I want you all to know and understand that #BlackLivesMatter does not begin nor does it end with George Floyd. As we attempt to form alliances, understand that this is a process that must continue after Derek Chauvin is convicted of second degree murder. It does not begin or end with #BlackOutTuesday, because this is beyond social expectation, this is a moral obligation.
I encourage you all to march, sign petitions, and donate if you are able, though I’m sure you’ve heard that many times recently, so I’d like to make this clear: black lives can not only matter when a black man is brutally deprived of his, or when the movement is trending on social media. Black lives matter in the classroom when your black peers speak, they matter in politics when your black candidates campaign, they matter when microaggressions are imposed on those around us, but go unaddressed, and they matter especially when black culture is reduced to being socially unacceptable, or “ghetto.”
And so, when you chant “No justice, no peace,” remember that justice is not only practiced through court, and remember that George Floyd was murdered in cold blood, while three of his co-workers stood idly by, and were so quick to accept it. Simply being a bystander can be a horrific thing, can’t it? I assure you all that microaggressions and social ostracization occurs every single day in forms that we may not recognize, it’s a form of ignorance that exists in all of us. I only have a few minutes up here, but that’s enough for me if the audience can learn to question it all; why are all of the black children sitting in the back? Is it “ghetto” or is it the formation of a culture that was taken away? Was a check worth George Floyd’s life? And lastly, how can I ensure that black lives matter in every part of government, every classroom, and every walk of life?
More than 80% of teachers in Denver Public Schools are white, but a white teacher cannot teach me about my history, a white teacher cannot teach me about the color of my skin. We need more teachers of color, we need non-white students to attend college, because most of DPS isn’t white. It is the right of every student, especially black students, to have teachers that look like them.
MLK Alum Christina Damon speaks at Black Lives Matter Protest. Transcript below:
Hi everyone! Thank you Quincy for sharing your platform with me. I was talking to my grandfather before I came out to protest today and he said, “you know Christina, when the protests first started, I really thought they were going to only last a day”. I didn’t think people were going to keep it moving and I remember as a child my mom shielding my face from white people in Texas. And to see young white people protesting and saying that Black Lives Matter and trying to figure out how you can help us dismantle systems of oppression brought a tear to his eye, and it carries a lot of weight, so thank you.
I wanted to talk about how in our schools right now, Black boys are 4X more likely to receive disciplinary action than anyone else in their school. Many teachers don’t see themselves as bad teachers. You know, we can all think of that teacher from our youth and think “dang I didn’t like that teacher”, but you cannot consider yourself a good teacher unless you start vocalizing and supporting rights for your Black students. When you see your colleagues sending students out of their classroom for undetermined amounts of time, when you see your colleagues drawing on a student’s face, (these are real stories) when you see your colleagues; instead of leaning in during equity meetings, texting their fellow teachers about where they want to eat for lunch, that undermines the work we’re doing and it is an ultimate sign of privilege to be able to opt out when it becomes uncomfortable for you.
The best thing you can do to support us is we need to you do this emotional and intellectual labor. It is very taxing for your Black teachers and Black colleagues at work or your Black friends or the Black people you care about to have to constantly call out violations and then choose the words to be able to explain that violation constantly, constantly, so what I ask of you is in addition to what we see here, which is a huge display of support is when you see your colleagues, friends or family doing things trying to undermine the work we are trying to do you need to call it out.
I just want to say thank you again, I am very proud of what we’ve seen tonight. I’m proud to be surrounded by other Black educators and activists. Black thoughts matter. Black leadership matters, we just saw a state senator pepper sprayed and arrested in New York because they did not know he was an authority figure out there. We just ask again that you hold each other accountable, and verbalize your support and check people, that is the best way, in my opinion, to see that you are really embodying this idea that my life matters, and my family’s lives matter, and your friends’ and colleagues’ lives matter who you care about. Thank you.
The Denver Urban Debate League (DUDL) stands in solidarity with the Black community and allies of the Black community in condemning the continued oppression and persecution of Black bodies and Black voices in this country demonstrated by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Arbery, Marvin Booker and countless other people of color who have lost their lives at the hands of racist law enforcement officers. We share the pain our students, teachers and colleagues are feeling right now as a result of the harsh reality of racial injustice and undue persecution.
We support those working for equity and justice and continue to believe in the power of amplifying voices and open dialogue in achieving sustained change. We commend our coaches, supporters and students, like DUDL alum Denver School Board Director Tay Anderson, who are raising their voices for justice and assembling in non-violent protest in honor of George Floyd and all Black lives. We stand for an equal, just society with freedom from fear and hatred. At the core of the Denver Urban Debate League’s values and mission is advancing educational equity in our community, so that young people of color have access to the tools they need to advocate for change and engage with questions of public policy. We believe that the skills fostered by speech and debate competition are critical skills, necessary for young leaders to effectively dismantle institutional racism and injustice.
This fall when students return to speech and debate competition, whether it be online or in person, they will join students all over the country debating the topic of criminal justice reform. If you would like to get involved and listen to what our students have to say please email DUDLVolunteers@gmail.com. If you would like to learn more about our programs and ways you can support our students please visit www.DenverDebate.org.
We hope you will all stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter at this historic turning point in our country’s history. As State Representative Leslie Herod said this week,
“We are tired. We are angry. We are rising.”
Let us all rise together to declare Black Lives Matter and work for effective and meaningful change.
Calling all DUDL Students! We are looking for submissions in POETRY, ORATORY, and DRAMA to compete in the 2020 Virtual City Championships! The winners will be announced on May 28th during the Virtual Student Achievement Celebration. For information on how to compete, look under the For Students tab. Submissions are due by May 23rd. Good luck!
After years of advocating and then judging pandemic disaster scenarios in policy debate rounds, it is now time to find out what I really believe and how I act in the face of an actual pandemic.
There are variations in people's approaches to determine how much harm is coming from coronavirus and its illness, COVID-19.
- Some describe the problem by the numbers of cases and deaths at his moment. I dismissed those numbers as unimportant, as they were transient and did not reflect the extent of likely harm.
- Doctors record the cases they see and public health officials aggregate them. Often, the numbers are compared to previous numbers or with current numbers for other illnesses, and changes create a trend of what to expect. I pay lots of attention to these numbers and trends.
- Epidemiologists look at what is known about existing cases and deaths, then use algorithms and models to estimate what the harm could be. Assumptions about existing numbers of cases, small variations in rates of transmission, and differences in severity of harm or death produce vastly different outcomes. I found opinions on US deaths ranging from 80,000 to more than 2 million. While I could pick one which agreed with my level of alarm or serves to advocate a sense of harm, I do not have enough expertise to make a meaningful choice.
Knowing about the potential harm, what choices do I make? Thankfully, I'm not making governmental choices. I can focus on personal decisions based on my privileged position.
- Do I continue doing my usual activities or stop them in order to isolate? I have good health and adequate insurance, so I still interact with friends and neighbors. I am conscious of their risks for exposure and choose a physical distance based on my (and their) sense of threat. When there is a government mandate, I (mostly) follow the law.
- Do I continue to spend money as usual? Should I change my investments? I'm retired, so don't rely on a job's income (a good thing, as my former company announced another round of lay-offs). I am more cautious, but have not chosen “only absolute essentials.” I made a few changes to have more cash available, but did not sell or reallocate assets. Unlike some of my relatives and friends, I was not certain enough about impacts of this crisis to change long-term strategies in an effort to avoid losses or make a profit.
It is hard to say if those are the best choices – but they emerge from my background in debate, assessing harms and considering policy choices. Here's hoping you are learning from your DUDL experience to make the best choices for you.
We would like to extend our gratitude to those who are on the frontlines keeping us all healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also thankful for our state and community leaders who have responded to this situation thoughtfully and swiftly, and to all of the educators who have worked quickly to transition to online learning modes and prepared take-home lessons for students to keep them academically engaged during the school closures that have been put in place.
Last Friday, in alignment with our partner organizations, and in the best interest of our students and the Denver community, we decided to postpone the City Championships sponsored by the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and the Student Celebration Dinner/ Breaking Barriers: A Fundraising Soiree to the weekend of May 22-23, 2020. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated, but we hope you all will save these dates for the tournament, dinner, and fundraiser.
To our supporters who have purchased tables or tickets for Breaking Barriers, we hope you will still join us on May 23, 2020 for this event which is our most important fundraiser of the year. For those who already signed up to volunteer, or were planning to volunteer, at the City Championships, we hope you will still be able to volunteer on May 22-23. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to update availability.
The DUDL Office at the University of Denver is currently closed, but DUDL staff are working remotely and available by email to answer any questions you have. Please contact Executive Director Jessica Clark at JessicaClark@UrbanDebate.org with questions, concerns, or suggestions. The League very much appreciates your continued support during these times which are most trying for everyone.
Wishing you all good health,
The Denver Urban Debate League
Please consider joining us for the 2020 DUDL City Championships hosted by the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver.
Judging opportunities for speech and debate are available.
On Saturday, March 28th we will also have the Student Achievement Celebration Dinner.
Sponsored by the University of Denver Sturm College of Law & The Colorado Hispanic Bar Association.
This Saturday, students scurried up and down the halls of Hinkley High School, participating in the fourth DUDL tournament of the year. Over 130 students and 30 judges came to make the tournament a possibility. Thank you to everyone who made this tournament such a success!
At tournament 5, on February 22nd, the DUDL will host it's inaugural Middle School Congress Event entitled "Your City Council." Middle schoolers from across Denver are encouraged to attend this amazing opportunity. For more information and to register, visit our Middle School Debate page.
On Saturday, January 11th, DUDL students joined lecturers from many disciplines at the 2020 Winter Workshop. Students heard from a topic lecturer on foreign arms sales, this year's policy topic. They also participated in an improv workshop with a professional. With speech and debate skills warmed up, they are ready to jump into the second half of the competitive season!
University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. 2255 East Evans Avenue Suite 406, Denver, CO 80210