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