Unclasp your briefcase. It’s time for a showdown. In competitive debate future presidents, supreme court justices, and titans of industry pummel each other with logic and rhetoric. But a couple years ago Ryan Wash, a queer, Black, first-generation college student from Kansas City, Missouri joined the debate team at Emporia State University. When he started going up against fast-talking, well-funded, “name-brand” teams, it was clear he wasn’t in Kansas anymore. So Ryan became the vanguard of a movement that made everything about debate debatable. In the end, he made himself a home in a strange and hostile land. Whether he was able to change what counts as rigorous academic argument … well, that’s still up for debate.
Produced by Matt Kielty. Reported by Abigail Keel
Special thanks to Will Baker, Myra Milam, John Dellamore, Sam Mauer, Tiffany Dillard Knox, Mary Mudd, Darren "Chief" Elliot, Jodee Hobbs, Rashad Evans and Luke Hill.
Special thanks also to Torgeir Kinne Solsvik for use of the song h-lydisk / B Lydian from the album Geirr Tveitt Piano Works and Songs