A Separate Flame

Western Branch:
The First African American Public Library

Public Debate and Literary Entertainment

Douglas Debating Society circa 1914
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.

Douglas Debating Society
The Douglass Debating Club, Louisville Western Branch Library

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.