Every year the sanctuary of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Houston becomes a presentation of passion and eloquence.
Some two hundred-forty 4th and 5th grade students from several schools in the HISD showcase months of preparation and hard work, as they recite their original speeches at the annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition. The topic addressed: “How will you carry forward the legacy of Dr. King in your personal and professional life?”
Stephen Moll with the Gardere Wynne Sewell law firm, agrees that the panel of distinguished judges certainly had its hand full.
"We were in 24 elementary schools this year. But you're right, it is one of the hardest jobs we have I think. Because although these twelve were magnificent, there were many that were so so good."
4th grader Joshua Jacobs from Garden Villas Elementary told the audience that Dr. King had a dream, but it was also the dream for him.
"Because of his dream, I have a purpose. My mind is made up. I will not be denied. I will not give up. Dr. King gave his life, so that I can stand here today and say I can achieve. I can succeed. It's up to me."
Raiya Goodman, a 5th grade student from Cornelius Elementary, said in her speech that Dr. King's legacy has helped guide her on a course that she will follow until she succeeds.
"I'm going to be my own hero. I'm going to care for the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by seizing every opportunity given to me. I'm going to get an education, so I can reach my full potential. I'm going to pay for it, because that's what Dr. King did for me. I'm going to ask W.D.D.K.D. What did Dr. King do?— and do it. I am Raiya Goodman, and I approve this message."
But it was Morgan Hunter, a 5th grader from Dodson Elementary who beat Goodman and Jacobs for the top prize. She hopes to be a medical doctor and said since Dr. King gave the world the prescription for injustice. She offered her prescription, a daily dose of hope and a spoonful of dreams and compassion.
"So I say to you today, take my prescription and get it filled immediately. Follow the instructions carefully. If you do so, there won't be any need for a follow up. Signed, Doctor Morgan Olivia Hunter, M, I will make, D, a difference. Thank you."Hunter's first place award included a one thousand dollar savings bond for college.
Morgan Hunter, a 5th grade student at Dodson Elementary and winner of the 2011 MLK Oratory Competition