Eight Dallas Independent School District students competed Friday in the final round of its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition.
Fourth- and fifth- graders answered the question: “How would Dr. King assess our progress in achieving his vision for America?”
Tristan Whitfield earned first place. He’s a fifth-grader at the Paul L. Dunbar Learning Center. Jaliyah Rogers earned second place. She’s a fifth-grader at J.P. Starks Math, Science and Technology Vanguard.
Here are excerpts from the competition. Listen to the audio in the player above to hear more from the competition.
“As a black man born Jan. 15, 1929, ninety-two years ago, his parents and family dreamed of a world that would afford him an education. Their push for excellence allowed him to enter college at the age of 15. That’s real advancement. He held up the mantle of peace. The vision of excellence in education that was afforded Dr. King also allowed him to dream big for people all over the world. He once stated, ‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the true goal of education.’“
“We can’t just turn our backs and watch democracy be destroyed. Dr. King will want us to be courageous and stand for truth, justice and equality. He would not want us to be fearful, but fearless. Dr. King said, ‘Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in.’ Sadly, I don’t think Dr. King would be pleased with the actions of our country. But it’s not too late to change. We can do this with love and unity.”
“Dr. King’s assessment of our progress in America? He would ask, what will be our continuing progress? We must continue to search our own hearts, drive out hate and remember why his dream was even necessary. We must live by Dr. King’s quote: ‘I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.‘”