Memorable Rematch at Wiley College


The eyes of the world were on Wiley College January 28 as it hosted the highly anticipated exhibition debate between the Melvin B. Tolson/Denzel Washington Forensics Society of Wiley College and the University of Southern California (USC) at the Julius S. Scott, Sr. Chapel during its Ethical Student Leadership Conference. The teams met for the first time 77 years ago when they competed for the national championship. Wiley College, under the direction of Melvin B. Tolson, earned the victory.


The subject of the debate was “Resolved Civil Disobedience is Necessary to Achieve Legitimacy,” with Wiley representing the affirmative, and USC, the negative. The Wiley exhibition team consisted of the debate team captain, Cary Chavis, and parliamentary research chairman, Chad Mossman, Wiley College’s first white male debater.  Mr. Chavis, a senior from Lake Charles, Lousiana, majoring in Secondary/Education/English/Language Arts and Reading, had one of the top on-air radio shows on KWZA 1049. He was a 12-year radio veteran and was the youngest radio personality in Louisiana. He assisted coaching the Washington Marion High School Speech and Debate Team, and brings great intelligence and life experience to the team. 


Mr. Mossman, a senior from Houston, Texas,  competed in speech and debate at Lonestar Community College in Kingwood, Texas.  Mr. Mossman has won awards in numerous events at regional and national competitions.  He is working toward a business degree with a concentration in management.  


Representing USC was Clara Purk, a sophomore majoring in International Relations Global Business, and Maria Mohammad, a senior majoring in Civil Engineering with an emphasis in structural engineering.


Both teams were declared winners by debate judges Dr. Spencer Crew, a noted historian who worked for the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Institute, and Joy Smith, Superintendent of Passenger Services for the Central Division at Amtrak.


Reverend B. T. Williamson, Assistant to the Bishop, delivered the invocation for the occasion. "The Great Debate between Wiley College and the University of Southern California was an outstanding event,” he said. “It reminded us that evidence in argument; wisdom, insight, and passion in presentation are essential ingredients for a democratic society."  Reverend William “Bill” Taylor, North District Superintendent, was also present. “It was my first debate and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The debaters were bright, well versed and eloquent in their arguments. Of course, I was pulling for the Great Debaters and will look forward to attending the next debate with USC!”


After the event, Wiley publically accepted an invitation from USC for another exhibition debate in the near future.