MARSHALL, TX (KLTV) - Actor and two-time Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington, was recently recognized for his contributions toward raising awareness around the world about the value of debate education at Wiley College in Marshall.
Washington was honored during the awards ceremony in late January for the nation's first Historically Black Colleges and Universities Speech and Debate Championship Tournament, which was held over three days on Wiley's campus.
During his acceptance of the award, Washington pledged to renew a $1 million gift to the college to continue his funding of the debate program, according to Wiley College.
Washington first donated $1 million to the school in 2007 to support the re-establishment of its debate program, which had been inactive since the early 1900s, when it was led by English professor and poet, Melvin B. Tolson. Washington starred in and directed the film, "The Great Debaters," which chronicled the history of the team under Tolson's mentoring and coaching.
Washington last visited the campus in 2015 and had lunch with the debate team. According to a spokesperson for the college, Washington was surprised on that visit when he was presented an honorary doctorate degree for his philanthropy in the field of education.
"We are thankful to Mr. Washington for his generous gift to sustain our debate program and ensure its longevity," said Dr. Haywood L. Strickland, President and CEO of Wiley College. "Through his support of Wiley College, he has preserved the legacy of the original Great Debaters, while also ensuring that current generations of students can carry forward Tolson's legacy of excellence. We are forever indebted to him."