175 Makers of History: Thomas Glenn Pelham and Melissa Maxcy Wade

Thomas Glenn Pelham and Melissa Maxcy Wade 72C 76G 96T 00T
Barkley Forum Leaders

Thomas Glenn Pelham Melissa Maxcy Wade

Thomas Glenn Pelham built the Barkley Forum; Melissa Maxcy Wade turned it into a national powerhouse.

In 1959, Pelham took over Emory's eight-year-old debate team, the Barkley Forum. Eight years later, the squad won its first national championship. When Pelham retired in 1972, Wade, one of his top debaters, took over. Since then, Emory debaters have won more than twenty national team championships and individual champion speaker awards, including the National Debate Tournament in 2010.

Wade is also a national leader in establishing Urban Debate Leagues (UDLs), which offer debate opportunities to inner-city youth. Today, 35,000 students and teachers take part in twenty-three UDLs nationwide.