Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Student Charity Debate Will Benefit Sunflower County Freedom Project

By Isabella Grisham 
IMC student

Members of the University of Mississippi’s Warren Debate Union pose for a group photo after a debate competition at Vanderbilt University. Photo courtesy of the Warren Debate Union.

The University of Mississippis Warren Debate Union is set to host its first-ever virtual charity invitational on Saturday, Aug. 22.

The event, which will be streamed on Facebook Live, is a student-led effort that will serve as a warmup for the upcoming debate season while also raising money for the Sunflower County Freedom Project (SCFP).  Schools from all across the country including The University of La Verne, The University of Miami, Morehouse College, and Vanderbilt University are set to compete in the day-long event.

We are ecstatic to host some regional and national debate powerhouses,” said co-organizer and Ole Miss senior Juan Riojas. This effort will serve to help further important discussions and benefit an extremely worthy cause.”

Warren Debate Union member Johnathan Lovelady debates at the podium during a competition. Photo courtesy of the Warren Debate Union.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the SCFP, which was founded in 1998 in honor of the legacy of the Mississippi Freedom Schools. Since then, the non-profit has worked to provide children in the Mississippi Delta with low-cost programming that focuses on healthier lifestyles, academic enrichment and character development. When picking an organization to benefit, the student organizers said there was no hesitation in naming the SCFP.

The money that we raise Saturday will go on to make a tangible impact,” said co-organizer and former SCFP intern Mitchell Palmertree. On a daily basis, students engage with a curriculum focused on the struggle for civil rights in their communities and how they themselves can become ‘LEAD’ers through Love, Education, Action, and Discipline.”

The University of Mississippi is no stranger to SCFP. Over the last 11 years, UM has maintained a funded internship program with SCFP that has allowed several students to immerse themselves in Mississippi culture and become catalysts for change.

The students and staff of the Sunflower County Freedom Project inspired me,” said Chelsea Caveny, the first UM funded intern at the SCFP. They pushed me to be an advocate against systemic inequity, and now 11 years later I still draw from that inspiration every day.”

The invitational will begin at 10 A.M. and will consist of five rounds of British parliamentary style debate. Each participating school will host one round with topics revolving around civic engagement and service, anti-racism, education, environment and agriculture and criminal justice.

Donations to the invitational can be made through GoFundMe or Venmo via the @LottAdvisoryBoard handle. For more information regarding this event please visit the UM Warren Debate Facebook page or email igrisham@go.olemiss.edu.