Skip Navigation


In 1950, Alben W. Barkley, a graduate of Emory debate and former United States Vice-President, granted permission to the Emory debaters to name the debate team, the Barkley Forum. In 1951 the Barkley Forum hosted its first high school debate tournament, a tournament first won by Woodlawn High School of Georgia. In 1959, Cairo High School, coached by Glenn Pelham, won the Barkley Forum for High Schools.

Glenn PelhamIn 1961, the Barkley Forum membership asked the same Glenn Pelham (pictured left), who would also serve two terms in the Georgia State Senate, to coach the Emory University debate team. He accepted, and the Barkley Forum went on to become one of the most successful debating organizations in the country. In 1967, Emory won its first national title in academic debate when Susan Cahoon, Mark Frankel, Joe Longino, and Bill McDaniel brought home the DSR-TKA national championship. Since 1967, Emory debate has won over twenty national championships.