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Happy Birthday to Nadine Strossen, High School Debate Champion and Civil Rights Champion!

by The New York City Urban Debate League | Aug 14, 2017 8:00:00 AM |

debate team, debater, Nadine Strossen

Nadine Strossen.jpeg

"This is the latest manifestation of the desire by those in power to minimize criticism and marginalize critics."

- Nadine Strossen


This week we celebrate the birthday of Great Debater, Nadine Strossen!


On August 18th, 1950, Nadine Strossen was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. From birth, her family background fueled her desire to become a leader in the civil liberties field. She says that her father, who was a Holocaust survivor, and her grandfather, who was a war protester, influenced her decision to pursue her career from an early age. 


Strossen was on her high school's debate team - and was the only girl on the debate team.  She was a champion debater in high school. Strossen was on two state championship debate teams in the late 1960s. She talked about how that experience provided her with skills that have been, and continue to be, integral to her success. "It literally shaped everything that has been important to me as an advocate and as a teacher . . ." 


After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law in 1975, Strossen started a decade-long career as a lawyer, where she used her skills as a debater to work on civil rights cases. But after nine years as a lawyer, she was ready for a change.


In 1988, she was elected president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization that strives to protect citizens' rights and liberties. "I never dreamed that all of that debating would be put to practice," said Strossen on how her debate team experience in high school prepared her to become the first woman woman and the youngest person to ever lead the ACLU. 


Her main responsibilities were advocacy for the program; during her tenure as president, she gave over 200 speeches each year.  Now, she's the leader of the National Youth Rights Association and a Professor at New York Law School.  She has been called one of the most influential business leaders, women, or lawyers in the National Law Journal and Vanity Fair.


Strossen's skills in speech and debate led her through a rigorous education and challenging career. Without her incredible skill as a debater, she never would have been able to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard. And without her speech skills, her thousands of presentations as ACLU president wouldn't have made much of a difference.


If you want to grow your speech and debate skills to become successful like Nadine Strossen, it's essential that you start now! Joining your school's debate team is a great way to hone these skills and work towards a successful, influential career in politics--after all, girls do debate, too.

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