• MLK Oratory Competition

    The annual MLK Oratory Competition was designed by Foley Gardere to recognize and encourage the writing and oratory skills of elementary students.  In addition, it serves as a celebration of cultural diversity and opportunity to spotlight talented Dallas ISD students as they learn about Dr. King.


    History and Accolades

    • Established in Dallas in 1993 and Houston in 1997 to commemorate the life of Dr. King.
    • 160 students from 25 schools participated in the 2017-2018 competition
    • Dallas’ 2016 runner-up received a full-ride scholarship to Paul Quinn College, while Houston’s 2016 winner received a signed letter from President Obama.
    • Past winners and participants delivered their speeches to numerous local and national organizations including an annual appear at the Dallas Bar Association. They have also appeared on local and national television programs include CBS’ The Early Show, KTVT Channel 11, KDFW Fox 4 News, Oprah, Good Morning America, The Today Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

    3 Part Program Format

    • In-School Competitions: September 30-October 11, 2019
    • Semifinals: Tuesday, December 3, 2019, 6-8:30 p.m. Location TBD
    • Finals: Friday, January 17, 2020, W. H. Adamson High School, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.


    • Fourth and fifth grade elementary students compose their own original three-to-five minute speeches incorporating ideals from Dr. King’s writings, speeches and other records to answer the competition’s theme question.
    • Students are judged on delivery, state presence and decorum, content, interpretation and memorization at all three levels (school, semifinals and finals) of the competition.
    • Participating Dallas ISD elementary schools host in-school competitions.
    • First place winners from each school participate in the semifinal competition.
    • Eight finalists are selected for the final competition.
  • Participating Schools

    • Arcadia Park Elementary
    • John Neely Bryan Elementary
    • Frederick Douglass Elementary
    • Paul L. Dunbar Learning Center
    • L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary
    • Thomas L. Marsalis Elementary
    • Eladio Martinez Learning Center
    • Ronald McNair Elementary
    • William Brown Miller Elementary
    • Clara Oliver Elementary
    • Charles Rice Learning Center
    • J.P. Starks Math, Science and Technology Vanguard
    • Thomas Tolbert Elementary
    • Urban Park Elementary
    • Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary
    • Harry C. Withers Elementary
  • Final Competition

    • The final competition will feature representatives from Foley Gardere, Dallas ISD and emcee, Clarice Tinsley (veteran journalist for Channel 4 Fox News in Dallas), as well as a number of VIP community/civic/business leaders on the judging panel and outstanding entertainment presented by Dallas ISD students.
    • The eight finalists will receive a monetary award, a participation plaque and other gifts.
    • Students from the eight finalists’ schools attend the final competition.