“Everybody has disagreements,” says Morehouse College debater Hatim Mansori. “But what’s the best way for all of us to get along? The key thing is to have a conversation.”

The annual Rev. Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, Class of 1920, Debate brings debaters from Bates and Morehouse together to honor a towering figure at both colleges, and in the nation.

Scenes from the 2019 Benjamin Elijah Mays Debate as debaters from Bates and Morehouse share thoughts about coming together on MLK Day. Video by Theophil Syslo.

The debate itself isn’t a binary proposition. It’s not about winning and losing. It’s about giving the audience a sampler of the ideas and viewpoints that populate arguments on either side of important issues, all delivered with the highest spirit of civil discourse.

“It’s important to interrogate why you subscribe to those beliefs.”

For the audience member, “sometimes it’s important just to sit and listen, to find a viewpoint that most represents you,” says Bates debater Abigail Westberry ’19 of Readfield, Maine.

That viewpoint might be “something different that you would’ve never considered. Or it’s a viewpoint you’ve always considered to be true. Either way, it’s important to interrogate why you subscribe to those beliefs.”

This year’s topic was “This House believes that social justice movements should prioritize socioeconomic class over race and gender.”

Joining Mansori from Morehouse was fellow junior Zach Manuel. Westberry’s fellow Bates debater was Harry Meadow ’19 of Princeton Junction, N.J. In the debate, Westberry and Manuel formed one team, Mansori and Meadow the other.

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