Our victories over college students weren’t just for us—they were for incarcerated people everywhere.
by Daniel S. Throop, The Marshall Project, in collaboration with Vice
“I can’t believe they lost!” I blurted out to confused looks from my five cellies while reading a recent edition of The New Yorker.
Thinking my outburst was likely baseball-related, one of the guys asked me, “Did your Pirates drop another one, Throop?”
“No,” I replied. “Norfolk lost to Harvard.”
With all due respect to the Crimson, I was stunned to learn that the Norfolk Prison Debating Society had been edged in a recent debate on the topic of eliminating the Electoral College. That’s because I’m the prisoner who rebuilt and trained the team after years of inactivity, and I knew first-hand how talented they were.
Back in the day, the Norfolk debate society was the stuff of legend, with a pedigree that included the great Malcolm X as a member. It was such a dominant force in debate that from 1933 to 1966 it compiled a win-loss record of 144-8 against some of the best college teams across the Northeast.
Unfortunately, those memories turned to myths after a half-century of ...