The annual MLK Oratory Competition was designed by the previous law firm Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP and is now a part of Foley & Lardner LLP 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.
- 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
- 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.
John Neely Bryan Elementary
Ronald McNair Elementary
J.P. Starks Math, Science and Technology Vanguard
Frederick Douglass Elementary
William Brown Miller Elementary
Thomas Tolbert Elementary
Paul L. Dunbar Learning Center
Clara Oliver Elementary
Urban Park Elementary
L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary
Elisha M. Pease Elementary
Walnut Hill Elementary
Martin Luther King, Jr. Arts Academy
K.B. Polk Center for Academically Talented and Gifted
Jack Lowe, Sr. Elementary
Charles Rice Learning Center
Harry C. Withers Elementary
T.L. Marsalis Elementary
Arturo Salazar Elementary
- 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.
For additional information, contact Tonya Mayberry Davis at 972-925-3654, firstname.lastname@example.org.