Atlanta is home to some of the most talented individuals in the country. Especially within the youth.

Jordan Thomas, a rising senior at Grady High School, took home first place at the annual Harvard Debate Council tournament, where scholars from all over the world come together to debate on social and political issues.

Thomas was one of a group of 25 African-American students from Atlanta who were selected this year to attend the tournament through the inaugural year of the Harvard Diversity Project. The Atlanta-based initiative was created to recruit, train and sponsor minority students to participate in the annual program at the Ivy League University.


Over 150 students from 16 Atlanta high schools applied to be apart of HDCDP. Only 25 of them were selected to head to the Ivy League school to compete against 400 students from across the globe. The single-elimination debate tournament took place on July 14 and the Atlanta students dominated the competition. Ten of the 12 Atlanta teams advanced to the octo-finals, six progressed to the quarter-finals and two continued to the semi-finals.

In a press release, Thomas talked about the stigma placed on him for his class and race. “Being a young, middle class, Black, public school student from the South created a stigma that automatically set me back in the competition, most of who were international students or from preparatory schools in the Northeast,” he said.