MLK oratory contest celebrates a legend by: Elaijah Gibbs-Jones
The Sixth Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition, sponsored by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro was held in Harrison Auditorium last week.
The competition was centered around the theme: “Moving America Forward in the Age of Trump.” Contestants had the opportunity to win a monetary award of $500 in first place, second with $250, and third with $150.
The oratory competition consisted of 9 contestants presenting their individual speeches, a musical selection of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”, and a poem performed by a Couture member.
Each contestant prepared a speech that presented their thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. and how the current political climate ties in with the overall theme.
Niya Fleming, a junior mathematics student, conveyed the message of “The 21st Century Depends on Me.” Aside from winning first place, Fleming also had the chance to perform her speech at the MLK Commemorative Program.
“I usually write poetry and music, so the memorization came easily to me. I started writing this piece in October and I did not know what it would turn into,” said Fleming. “But, as the faucet kept pouring out, I thought it would be perfect for the contest.”
In addition to each of their speeches, students were expected by the judges to hone in on their delivery, eye contact, and creativity.
Courtney Turner, junior journalism and mass communication student and second place winner, utilized his singing skills alongside props like a choir gown, Bible, and the reiteration of his topic of “We can, we shall, and we will succeed.”
The contestants, of course, presented their personal opinions within their speeches. Most spoke of the action of moving forward, the importance of equity, and how MLK Jr. would handle the country’s current issues. However, one contestant’s message differed from the rest.
Dominique Williams, a senior professional theatre student displayed the importance of “The Turnaround,” which granted him the title of third place.
As he talked about the movie, “Selma,” he demonstrated the importance of MLK Jr. turning around instead of protesting as it could’ve have led to casualties.
“I am not suggesting that in order to go forward you must go backward,” said Williams. “Sometimes it is necessary to be willing to admit that it is okay to turn around. I do believe that Dr. King knew that it was not the proper time to go forward.”
The oratory contest and N.C. A&T’s Multicultural Student Center Director, Gerald Spates commended all the contestants and the oratory competition for being a “great turn out.”
Congratulations to all of the oratory competition winners.