Page 8 - Windows Spring 2015
P. 8

The Frogs forensics squad invited Wiley College’s powerhouse
team to the TCU campus for a rematch.

                                                                                  March 18, 2015 article by Marcia Melton published in TCU Magazine.
                                                                                                      March 19, 2015 article by Tad Desai for TCU 360

TCU’s 1935 football season was a standout. Even though the team failed to
defeat SMU in the so-called “The Game of the Century,” the Horned Frogs
took on the LSU Tigers in the 1936 Sugar Bowl and won a muddy 3-2 victory.

But in the spring semester of 1935, TCU embarked on what would become
an even bigger historical moment.

Dr. C. Allen True formed the new Frogs Forensics Fraternity, and its original
12 members wasted no time in challenging schools around Texas to debate.
The team’s roster included John Bailey, Edith Blakeway, Byron Buckeridge,
Leonard Kirkegaard, Dorothy Lewis, Hastings Pannill, Harry Roberts, Mamie
Snodgrass, J.B. Trimble, Julius Lile and Charles Weaver. President W.A. Welsh
led the team.

In March 1935, the fledgling Frogs forensics team invited Wiley College’s
powerhouse debaters to the TCU campus. The historically black college
formed its forensics society in 1924, but Pi Kappa Delta, the all-white national
forensics organization, was segregated and did not permit non-white schools
to participate in its tournaments and competitions.

Wiley’s renowned coach, Professor Melvin B. Tolson, formed Alpha Pi               top, left to right) Byron Buckeridge,
Omega to serve as the debate circuit for historically black colleges, which       Edith Blakeway; (bottom, left to right)
included schools such as Bishop, Fisk, Howard and Morehouse. Under this           J.B. Trimble, Mamie Snodgrass. (TCU
system, Tolson could schedule Wiley to debate white colleges but only as          Yearbook)
unofficial, no-decision events.

A Wiley team member who debated at TCU was Hobart S. Jarrett. He was
a survivor of the 1921 racial conflict in the Greenwood black business
district of Tulsa, Okla. that claimed hundreds of African-American lives, left
thousands more homeless and destroyed 35 city blocks.

The Wiley debate team that TCU faced in 1935 would become known as
“The Great Debaters.” In a 2007 Hollywood film about the legendary team,
Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington starred as the forceful professor
and debate coach Tolson.

When the TCU and Wiley College debate teams competed in March of 1935, Members of the 1935 Wylie Debate Team
the contest was not officially judged and seating was determined by the color
of your skin.

Wednesday night, March 18, 2015, in the Mary Couts Burnett Library’s
Reading Room, hundreds of people of varying races came together and
watched the teams compete again. This time, the Great Debaters of Wiley
College defeated the TCU Forensics team by judges’ vote, 2-1.

The judge’s panel included journalist E.R. Bill, whose article in the Fort Worth
Magazine is responsible for the idea of a commemorative debate between the
two schools.

8 TCU Library
   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13