Houston Democratic debate gives hosts historic opportunity

ByTom Abrahams KTRK logo
Monday, September 9, 2019
Democratic debate presents TSU with historic opportunity
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The eyes of the nation will fall on Texas Southern University Thursday as 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls spar on the debate stage.

HOUSTON, Texas -- When TSU agreed to host the debate, one of the critical issues for the administration was that its students get a chance to work with ABC on its production.

We met one of those fortunate students, Merritt Johnson, who's getting an education outside the lecture hall.

"Class and work. Class and work," Johnson said. "That's all it's been for the last three weeks."

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She is among the two dozen students who've earned internships with ABC in the weeks leading up to the debate and then on debate night Thursday.

It's an incredible learning experience, especially in logistics and teamwork.

"We see a lot of behind the scenes practices to putting on such a large event like this," Johnson said.

The final preparations are underway. The campus is brimming with electricity, and Johnson can hardly contain herself.

"I'm honestly astounded because I didn't think so much went into putting on a production of this magnitude," she said. "For the debate to be held here at the school, to provide opportunities for African American students at a historically black college, that means the world."


In addition to the internships, 650 students got tickets to the debate. There is seating for 1,700 at an official watch party on campus.

It's truly an interactive experience for TSU.

Follow Tom Abrahams on Facebook and Twitter as he follows former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke this week.

SEE ALSO: Presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro prepare for Houston debate