Eight Dallas ISD students will compete in annual MLK Jr. Oratory Competition


Congratulations to Zihair Douglas, fifth-grade student from Thomas L Marsalis Elementary School, for winning the 31st annual MLK Jr. Oratory Competition!


Eight fourth- and fifth-grade students from Dallas elementary schools have been selected to advance to the final round of Dallas ISD’s 31st annual MLK Jr. Oratory Competition, co-sponsored by Foley & Lardner LLP. The competition is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, at W.H. Adamson High School.

In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, the oratory competition is designed to highlight the cultural diversity and talent of the Dallas community while recognizing and encouraging the writing and public speaking skills of elementary school students. Hosted and sponsored by Foley, the competition invites local students to present original three-to-five-minute speeches addressing the topic, “What would Dr. King say to us today about hope for tomorrow?”

Students advancing to the final round are:

  •   Adrian Rojas, 5th Grade, Arturo Salazar Elementary
  •   Kennedy Smith, 4th Grade, Charles Rice Learning Center
  •   Zaleeia Brown, 5th Grade, Clara Oliver Elementary
  •   Mohammad Mohammad, 5th Grade, Elisha M. Pease Elementary
  •   Bria Hider, 5th Grade, J.P. Starks Math, Science and Technology Vanguard
  •   Zihair Douglas, 5th Grade, T.L. Marsalis Elementary STEAM Academy
  •   Daniella Mitchell, 5th Grade, Thomas Tolbert Elementary
  •   Ella Atkins, 5th Grade, Walnut Hill International Leadership Academy

The competition kicked off in November with virtual qualifying rounds, which were judged by representatives from Foley. During the in-person semifinal round on Dec. 6, eight finalists were selected to advance to the final competition. Criteria for judging include delivery, stage presence and decorum, content interpretation and memorization. Finalists will receive a monetary award, participation plaque and other gifts.

Created in Dallas in 1993, the event’s success led to the establishment of the Houston competition in 1997 and the Chicago competition in 2020. Past winners and participants have delivered their speeches to numerous local and national organizations, including MLK Day appearances at the House of Blues. They have also appeared on local and national television programs, including CBS’ “The Early Show,” Fox 26 News, “Oprah,” “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show,” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”




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