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Film Hails Jordan's State Debate Champs

The story of recent Jordan High School graduates Louis Blackwell and Richard Funches, including how they captured the California State Speech and Debate Championship title during their time at Jordan, is now the subject of an award-winning feature-length documentary, “Resolved.” The movie debuted at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival, where it earned the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. While at Jordan High, the Blackwell-Funches team outperformed 1,000 of California’s best student speakers and 64 top high school debate teams from throughout the state – including many teams from elite, private schools. The film’s producer, Greg Whitely, said “Resolved” spotlights the unconventional methods used by Blackwell and Funches, who challenged the traditional approach to debate by drawing upon their personal experiences and speaking at a slower, more understandable pace. More conventional debate teams employ a style known as “the spread,” in which students speak at an often incomprehensible, lightning quick pace of 400 words per minute. Funches, interviewed by the Long Beach Press-Telegram shortly after the release of the 2007 documentary, said that winning the 2005 state debate championship was a validation of the Jordan team’s approach. The two also used the debate pulpit to point out inequities inherent in the world of debate, where most competitors come from more affluent communities. “I felt like it was more than just a trophy that was on the line,” Funches said. “It was my personal worth, and the thing that I fought most for, which was respecting differences and bridging the gap between disconnected urban minorities and debate.” The debate team at Jordan was made possible by a three-year grant from the Los Angeles Urban Debate League. The grant ended in the 2005-06 school year. Both Funches and Blackwell earned college debate scholarships upon graduating from Jordan in 2006. Funches attends the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and Blackwell attends Cal State Fullerton. 

STATE CHAMPS, FILM STARS - Debate teams from dozens of the most elite, expensive private prep schools in California were overwhelmed by the stellar performance of Jordan High School students Louis Blackwell and Richard Funches, Class of 2006. During their time at Jordan, the duo triumphed as California State Speech and Debate Champions. A 2007 documentary chronicles their success.