New community debate series to launch at Asheville High School

Press release community invitation on behalf of Asheville High / SILSA’s Speech and Debate Team and :

Asheville area residents are invited to attend a community debate in which four prominent citizens will argue against and in support of the following resolution:
RESOLVED: Asheville has disenfranchised its African-American population. There is no charge for attendance.

The debate features Dr. Dwight Mullen (political science professor) and Dr. Darin Waters (history professor) of UNC-Asheville arguing in SUPPORT of the resolution, and Dr. Carl Mumpower (local psychologist) and Dr. Wendell Runion (local radio station owner and evangelist) arguing AGAINST the resolution.
In 1780, at the height of the European Enlightenment, a London newspaper reported that “the rage for public debate now shows itself in all quarters of the metropolis.” Debating in 21st century America usually means political candidates squaring off in media events, with heated exchanges highlighted.
The students and coaches of Asheville High / SILSA’s Speech and Debate Team believe that formal debate – the disciplined discussion of an issue between matched sides – can create more light than heat. Listeners might actually learn something, and debaters can demonstrate or develop the critical skills of persuasion and public presentation.

Dr. Darin Waters. Photo submitted
Dr. Darin Waters. Photo submitted
Dr. Carl Mumpower. Photo submitted
Dr. Carl Mumpower. Photo submitted

To highlight the power of the spoken word in a structured debating forum, Asheville High / SILSA and the Wilma Dykeman Legacy, in cooperation with the Asheville Citizen-Times, are proud to present a series of public debates between prominent local citizens. The three-part debate series will take place on Friday evenings at 5:30 PM in the Asheville High School auditorium. On November 13, January 29, and April 8, two-person teams will debate substantive issues including race relations and the organic food and eat-local movements. Asheville Citizen-Times “Answer Man” John Boyle will moderate the first debate while Asheville High debate students will keep time and judge the “winners” of the debate.
The first debate features Dwight Mullen and Darin Waters of UNC-Asheville. Dr. Mullen received his BA in History and Political Science at Loma Linda University, and his MA and PhD in Political Science at Atlanta University. In 2014, he won the 2014 UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award. Each year, he oversees undergraduates’ research projects covering the State of Black Asheville. Dr. Waters grew up in the Shiloh neighborhood of Asheville and received his Bachelor’s degree at Liberty University. He earned an MA in History at North Carolina State University, and a PhD in History at the UNC Chapel Hill.

Dr. Wendell Runion. Photo submitted
Dr. Wendell Runion. Photo submitted
Dr. Dwight Mullen. Photo submitted
Dr. Dwight Mullen. Photo submitted

The first debate also features Carl Mumpower and Wendell Runion. Dr. Mumpower is a professional psychologist with offices in downtown Asheville.  He received a BA in psychology from Saint Leo College, an MA in Education and Counseling from Western Carolina University, an MSW in Clinical Social Work from the University of Georgia, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute. Dr. Runion was born in the Walnut Creek valley of Madison County, attended Charles D. Owen High School in Swannanoa, and received his Bachelor degree in Theology at Trinity Baptist College. He earned a PhD in Religion at Emmanuel Baptist University. He started Asheville Baptist Tabernacle, founded International Baptist Outreach Missions, and owns WKJV gospel radio station in Asheville.


About the Wilma Dykeman Legacy
The Wilma Dykeman Legacy is a tax-exempt non-profit organization founded in 2012 to sustain and promote Wilma Dykeman’s values by sponsoring workshops, events, and other programs. The core values of this extraordinary woman from Buncombe County were: environmental integrity, social justice, and the power of the written and spoken word. For more information, visit

About the Asheville High / SILSA Speech and Debate Team
The Asheville High / SILSA Speech and Debate Team competes in speech and debate tournaments throughout the state and nation. Over the last 8 years, the team is number one overall in the Harvard National Cumulative Rankings for the Congressional Debate event. The program has molded innumerable young people and helped them hone their public speaking skills.

About Able Allen
Able studied political science and history at Warren Wilson College. He enjoys travel, dance, games, theater, blacksmithing and the great outdoors. Follow me @AbleLAllen

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