Blackshear Elementary student triumphs at 28th annual MLK Oratory Competition

Foley & Lardner LLP hosted the 28th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church on Friday, Jan. 12. Each year, HISD elementary students recite original speeches inspired by the civil rights leader. This year’s theme was “How would Dr. King reflect on the 60 years since his I Have a Dream speech?”

A panel of judges consisting of local community leaders makes the difficult decision to award a first, second, and third place prize based on delivery, stage presence, decorum, content interpretation, and memorization.

“This competition is important because it helps do what the national holiday is all about, which is to remember Dr. King, to remember why he was important and the effect that he still has on our lives today,” said Foley & Lardner representative and competition host Claude Treece. “The other piece of it is to give the kids the opportunity to study about Dr. King, write their speeches and showcase their talents, which are just amazing.”

This year’s 12 finalists inspired a packed sanctuary and brought tears to the eyes of many attendees with Blackshear Elementary student Montoia Murray’s impassioned speech ultimately taking first place.

“What made me feel good about winning was that I get to be a part of this competition and talk about Dr. King,” said Murray. “I was inspired to write my speech because I get to talk about Dr. King and what he did to achieve his goals and what he did to change the world.”

Law Elementary student Solieh McKnight placed second, and Pleasantville Elementary student Ilsa Lucia Aguilar placed third.

The remaining finalists, listed below, received plaques and monetary awards for their participation.

Najarad Ross
Stevens Elementary

Aniya Brewington
Thompson Elementary

Josue Martinez
Crespo Elementary

Cheyenne Michel
Young Elementary

Edlawit Getachew
Briarmeadow Elementary

Elena Villarroel
Burnet Elementary

Joy Nsude
Valley West Elementary

Ziggy Varnado
Cornelius Elementary

Sydni Law
MacGregor Elementary

Watch the full 28th annual MLK Oratory Competition below.