Tag Archives: Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. oratory competition earns national, local attention


The performances of several HISD elementary school students who delivered original Martin Luther King Jr.-inspired speeches last week garnered praise from both local and national media outlets. ABC’s Good Morning America described the students’ speeches as “profound” and “impressive.”

The students’ speeches focused on the question, “What would Dr. King say in his campaign speech if he were running for president this year?” as part of the 20thannual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition sponsored by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP.

Students from Cornelius, Pleasantville, Wainwright, and Whidby elementary schools were featured in news stories on the competition, thanking Dr. King for his service and legacy. Parts of their speeches also were highlighted on TV.

Cornelius fifth-grader Richard Espinoza-Garza, who won the competition, told ABC that Dr. King “meant we should all come together – all races, all cultures.”

Click the links below to view stories on HISD students participating in the oratory competition.

For third time, a Cornelius ES student wins Martin Luther King Jr. oratory competition

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For the third time in a row, a student from Cornelius Elementary School has taken home the top prize at the Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition. Fifth-grader Richard Espinoza-Garza was all smiles as he took center stage to claim his prize. Now in its 20th year in Houston, the annual competition is sponsored by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP.

Principal Karen Jackson attributed her school’s three-year winning streak to a combination of strong support and a positive campus culture. “We are highly competitive and demand excellence from our kids in everything we do,” said Jackson. “We have a speech coach, and every winner from our campus has had over-the-top parental support.”

This year, 12 finalists answered the question, “What would Dr. King say in his campaign speech if he were running for president this year?Continue reading

Students create exhibit in honor of Selma anniversary

Eastwood Academy’s Student Leadership class created an exhibit in honor of the 50th anniversary of the march on Selma Bridge. They went to see the movie and were inspired to set up an area at the school where students and staff could reflect on social injustices while listening to Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech. See a quick video here.

Cornelius ES student wins Martin Luther King Jr. oratory competition

Amari Venzor of Cornelius Elementary School took home top honors in the 18th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition sponsored by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Houston.

Every year since 1996, fourth- and fifth-graders from two dozen HISD schools have competed in this annual contest, which challenges students to write and present a short original speech on a subject related to the slain civil rights leader. The topic this year was, “If Dr. King were speaking at a March on Washington today, what would he say?”

“If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was speaking at a March on Washington today, he would say: As I consider the past 50 years of progress, I can’t help but wonder if for every two steps we have taken forward, we have taken three steps back,” Amari said. “Have we fought so hard to instill that pride that we fail to include words like integrity, self-respect, and even a simple hi? Have we allowed economic and social status to lull us into a crippling complacency and a sense of entitlement? Simply meaning, are we putting $200 sneakers on our children who can barely read or solve basic mathematical equations rather than teaching them how to invest the same $200 into the actual shoe company? Have we been so busy trying to give our children what we didn’t have that we forgot to give them what we did have?”

Byron Roberson of Dodson ES won second place and Bruce ES student Chrystyna Haywood won third place.


The other 2014 finalists, in alphabetical order, were:

Shahnoor Ahtesham, Sutton ES
Reginald Brown, Pleasantville ES
Chrislyn Brownlow, Anderson ES
Kierra Hunter, MacGregor ES
Robert Lane III, Valley West ES
Amaria Maldonado, Wainwright ES
Kennady Roberson, Lockhart ES
Jayla Wright, Burrus ES
Jacovia Young, Windsor Village ES

Other participating HISD campuses include: Atherton, Crespo, Garden Villas, Golfcrest, Gregg, Gross, Park Place, Port Houston, Rodriguez, Thompson, Whidby, and Woodson.

Don’t miss the MLK Jr. Oratory Competition finals on Jan. 17

If you’ve never seen the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition sponsored by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Houston, you’re in for a treat.

Every year since 1996, fourth- and fifth-graders from two dozen HISD schools have competed in this annual contest, which challenges students to write and present a short original speech on a subject related to the slain civil rights leader. The topic this year is, “If Dr. King were speaking at a March on Washington today, what would he say?”

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HISD Schools To Ring Bells To Commemorate ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech

Many Houston ISD schools will participate in a local bell-ringing ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Houston’s official bell-ringing ceremony will occur at 2 p.m. on Wednesday outside Houston City Hall. Houston Mayor Annise Parker has asked schools across the Houston area to join in the observance of this major turning point in U.S. history by ringing their bells at the same time.

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HISD Students Compete in 17th Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition

Twelve HISD students will compete in the final round of the 17th Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition. The fourth-and fifth-grade students have written three-to-five minute speeches answering the theme question “If you could talk directly to Dr. King about your dream for our future, what would you tell him?”  Students will be judged on delivery, stage presence and decorum, content interpretation, and memorization. The winner will receive $1,000 and the other finalists will also be awarded a monetary prize. The competition was created to celebrate cultural diversity and to recognize exceptional HISD students as they learn about Dr. King’s legacy.  It is free and open to the public.  Click here to see the speeches from last year’s event.

Who: Twelve students representing HISD elementary schools; HISD Board of Education Trustee Anna Eastman, HISD Chief Elementary School officer Samuel Sarabia, and local civic and community leaders will serve as judges.

What: Final round of the 17th annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition

When: Friday, January 18 at 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Where: Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Christ, 500 Clay Street