To honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Foley & Lardner LLP hosted the 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church on Friday, Jan. 13.
Each year, HISD students present original speeches inspired by the civil rights leader before a panel of judges consisting of community leaders, civil right activists, and entertainers. This year’s theme was “What would Dr. King say to us today about hope for tomorrow?”
“This event kicks off MLK weekend in such a great way that reminds us why we even have the weekend,” said Foley & Lardner Attorney Claude Treece. “We do it for these kids, and their speeches, energy, and passions, and it causes everyone to come together to recognize what MLK weekend is all about.”
Law Elementary School 5th grader Kadence Smith placed first among the 12 finalists.
2023 MLK ORATORY FINALS SPANISH SUBTITLES.mp4 from Houston ISD on Vimeo.
“It feels so amazing,” said Smith. “It took a lot of effort. I did everything I could because I was so determined, and I wanted to win!”
Criteria for judging includes delivery, stage presence, decorum, content interpretation, and memorization.
Young Elementary School 5th grader Journey Sensley placed second, and Windsor Village Elementary School 5th grader Xavier Holmes, Jr. placed third.
The remaining finalists, listed below, also received a monetary award and a participation plaque.
- Camila Alfraro, 4th Grade, Sutton Elementary School
- Masyn Mourning, 4th Grade, Burrus Elementary School
- Arianna Guillory, 5th Grade, Blackshear Elementary School
- Joy Nsude, 4th Grade, Valley West Elementary School
- Keinner De Leon, 5th Grade, Crespo Elementary School
- Ellis Britton, 4th Grade, Briarmeadow Elementary School
- Kowin McCormick, 5th Grade, Pleasantville Elementary School
- Zaria Jones, 5th Grade, Thompson Elementary School
- Marquise Ambers, 5th Grade, Cornelius Elementary School
“We wouldn’t be where we are now without Dr. King,” said Smith. “But we can do better, there’s always room for improvement.”
Watch the full 27th annual MLK Jr. Oratory Competition down below.