HISD students share powerful speeches inspired by MLK

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Friday, January 15, 2021
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These students may be in fourth and fifth grade, but the powerful words they are speaking will give any adult chills. Watch highlights from HISD's MLK Oratory Competition.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Twelve Houston Independent School District students shared their 2021 vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream" speech during the district's annual oratory competition Friday, which also happened to be King's birthday.

He would have turned 92.

This year, students answered the question, "How do you think Dr. King's teachings can help us today?"

Fourth and fifth grade HISD students delivered original, three to five minute speeches inspired by the late civil rights leader. Students were judged on delivery, stage presence, content interpretation, and memorization.

The 2020-2021 finalists were:

  • Jason Hudson, Atherton Elementary School, fourth grade
  • Andrianna Harden, Bastian Elementary School, fifth grade
  • Vivianna Serna, Crespo Elementary School, fourth grade
  • Jada Rountree, Dogan Elementary School, fifth grade
  • Pahy'tton Williams, Foster Elementary School, fourth grade
  • Skylar Stevenson, Law Elementary School, fourth grade
  • Mikeen Holiday, Bell Elementary School, fourth grade
  • Channing Roberts, MacGregor Elementary School, fourth grade
  • Jakiyah Bickham, Pleasantville Elementary School, fourth grade
  • Kamila Reyes, Sutton Elementary School, fourth grade
  • Goodwill Nsude, Valley West Elementary School, fifth grade
  • Madison Jones Austin, Young Elementary School, fifth grade

Like many events over the last year, the contest had to make some adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including requiring those who weren't speaking to wear masks and virtual judges.

ABC13's Melanie Lawson and Chauncy Glover were among the final competition judges, who had their work cut out for them.

Students' speeches were extremely relevant and timely as they used King's influence to discuss matters, including the COVID-19 pandemic, racial inequality, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.

"Americans claim they'll do anything for this country, yet they refuse to wear a mask. A mask? Isn't it every citizen's duty to protect each other? Isn't this the true meaning of patriotism?" fifth grader Goodwill Nsude, who attends Valley West Elementary School, poignantly asked.

Vivianna Serna, a fourth grader at Crespo Elementary School, took home first place, receiving a $1,000 prize.

Foster Elementary fourth grader Pahy'tton Williams received second place, which was a $500 prize.

Third place, with a prize of $300, went to Jakiyah Bickham, a fourth grader at Pleasant Elementary School.

Other finalists received $100.

The nationally recognized competition is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

You can re-watch the competition on ABC13's streaming apps for devices, including Roku, Amazon Fire, Android TV and Apple TV. Follow this link to download the apps.

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