MLK Oratory Competition

The Austin Area Heritage Council (AAHC), in collaboration with ACC African American Cultural Center (AACC), ACC Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT), ACC Black Representation of Achievement through Student Support (BRASS), Google Fiber, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and, Child, Inc. are sponsoring the 19th Annual MLK Oratory Competition.

The competition is opened to individual 4th, 5th and 6th grade students on school campuses. Unfortunately, previous winners of this competition are not allowed to participate in this year’s event.

Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic two years ago, we have done this event virtually. We are happy to announce that this event will be live and in person in order to continue the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and most importantly, for the students who are the future of this country.

This event will take place on Thursday, January 11, 2024 at 6:30pm at the Austin Community College’s (ACC) Highland Campus which is located at 6101 Highland Campus Drive, Building 4000, Room 4.2205 – Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation, Austin, Texas 78752.

On June 29th of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court voted in a 6-3 decision to curb affirmative action in higher education—ending a four-decade precedent that allowed colleges and universities to broadly consider applicants’ race in their admissions processes.

We also celebrated and recognized the significance of the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington which was officially called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This historic march took place on August 28, 1963 where some 250,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. This event aimed to draw attention to continuing challenges and inequalities faced by African Americans a century after emancipation. It was also the occasion of Martin Luther King, Jr’s now-iconic, “I Have A Dream” speech. 

On August 28th of this year, people met in the same spot (March on Washington) to declare the dream was in jeopardy – that America had slid backwards in its fight against hatred and bigotry. It was noted that “We are the dreamers” but we are still facing the prevalence of civil right abuses, such as systemic racism, hate speech, hate crimes, police brutality, gun violence, poverty, the loss of voting rights and the collapse of reproductive rights. Where is the love, respect, nonviolence, forgiveness, dignity, equity, justice, positive peace, humility, understanding, collaboration, kindness, unity, integrity, hope and trust? In order to fulfill Dr. King’s dream, we must continue to carry forward his unfinished work because change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are one nation and one dream and we look to our youth to see what the realities of the world are because they are the next generation to embrace and to carry forward his dream by making it a reality.

The topic for the 2024 MLK Oratory contest is: “We Are the DREAMERS: Continuing the Legacy Through the Pursuit of Equality for All – If Dr. King were alive today, what would you share with him with the changes you would personally make in order to have his dream become a reality for this country and the world and how would you do it”?

The students are encouraged to consider Dr. Martin Luther King’s ideals and principles when creating their speeches and should follow the following criteria:

  • The speeches must be written by the student and cannot be more than 5 minutes in length;
  • The speeches should not include props or audience participation;
  • And, if a student decides to sing as part of his or her speech, the total amount of song should be no more than 30 seconds in length.
  • At the school-wide and final competition, judges will be aware of specifications and will keep them in mind as they judge the students on:
    • Delivery
    • Stage Decorum
    • Content Interpretation
    • Expression and Memory, not on whether one student has more musical talent than another

We will have distinguished judges judging the final competition. Prizes will be awarded to the winners: 1st place – $500.00, 2nd place – $250.00 and 3rd place – $150.00 along with a trophy. Finalists who do not place (1st, 2nd or 3rd) will receive a token of our appreciation for competing.

Come and join us as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream of equality for all!