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Public Debate and Literary Entertainment

The Douglass Debating Club
Louisville Western Branch Library

The prominent Douglass Debating Club for high school boys was formed in 1909 under the direction of Western branch librarian, Thomas Fountain Blue. The purpose of the club was to acquaint its members with parliamentary usages, to keep before them the great current questions, and to train them to speak in public. Weekly meetings at the club were held at the Western Colored Branch Library, and a prepared program was rendered. A public debate and prize contest was held annually.

The following is an example of the kind of topics debated in the prize contests:

The North American Indian has a Greater Opportunity for Development than the Afro-American.

Frederick Douglass speaking about the rights of the Negro.
“Liberty given is never so precious as liberty sought for and fought for.”

The Great Debate:
Booker T. Washington vs. W. E. B. DuBois