Interpreting the dream: Young orators will compete in finals of annual MLK Oratory Competition

Jasira King, a fourth-grader at William Brown Miller Elementary School, was the winner of the 27th annual Dallas Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition. – Dallas ISD file photo




Eight young orators will soon face off in Dallas ISD’s 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition. The fourth and fifth graders will speak on the topic: “How would Dr. King assess our progress in achieving his vision for America.”

The event will be streamed on the district’s website and on Facebook Live at 11 a.m., Friday, Jan. 14. It will be the highlight of a monthslong process in which dozens of students at 17 district schools participated by writing, memorizing and reciting their original essays on the assigned topic.

The competition, a signature event for Dallas ISD sponsored by the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, is a celebration of cultural diversity and an opportunity to spotlight talented students as they learn about the teachings of King.

Past years’ winners and participants have delivered their speeches to local and national audiences, making MLK Day appearances at city celebrations and appearing 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.

In addition to the student speakers, the final competition will feature remarks from Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and representatives from Foley & Gardner. Clarice Tinsley, Fox 4 News anchor, will host remotely, and a number of community, civic and business leaders will be judging remotely.

Student winners of the competition will receive cash awards and gifts.

This year’s contestants are:

  • Zihair Douglas, 4th grade, T.L. Marsalis Elementary School
  • Arianna Garcia, 5th grade, L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary School
  • Daniella Goffney-Mitchell, 4th grade, Thomas Tolbert Elementary School
  • Kiyan Harrison, 4th grade, Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary School
  • Diamond McKinney, 5th grade, Clara Oliver Elementary School
  • Jaliaha Rodgers, 5th grade, J.P. Starks Math, Science, and Technology Vanguard
  • Chance Taylor, 5th grade, Charles Rice Learning Center
  • Tristan Whitfield, 5th grade, Paul L. Dunbar Learning Center


* Jackson Smith, 4th grade, MLK Arts Academy, will compete should one of the finalists be unable to participate.




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