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Deadline Extended: Represent Cincy in the Martin Luther King, Jr State of Ohio Oratorical Contest

The City of Cincinnati Office of Human Relations is seeking students from all schools and grade levels to enter the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Statewide Oratorical Contest.

Students will compete in essay writing and speeches that elaborate and keep Dr. King's dream alive by advancing his philosophy of nonviolent social change.

The contests will be held in four divisions: 

  • Primary (grades K-2),

  • Intermediate (grades 3-5)

  • Junior (grades 6-8)

  • Senior (grades 9-12). 

For a student/s to present locally the Sponsoring teacher or student should fill out the Interest Form. 

The Interest Form should be submitted by Wednesday, February 8, 2023.


Students interested in participating must submit a speech based on the theme “Bridging the Divide: Daring to Dream Again” by February 15, 2023.

After submitting the essays, a citywide contest will be held on February 23, 2023 at the Mary A. Ronan Education Center (2651 Burnet Avenue) for students to recite their essay in front of a panel of judges from memory.  First, second and third place will be awarded in each division. Winners will be invited to compete in the statewide contest in Columbus in April 2023.   

Students interested in participating should contact their English Language Arts teacher, school counselor or Marla Hurston Fuller at or 513-352-2498 for more information.

Good luck and we look forward to hearing your speeches!  

For more information download this Rules and Regulations Form  by the MLK Commission or this City of Cincinnati flier.

MLK Commission Rules and Regulation:

OHIO DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. HOLIDAY COMMISSION STATEWIDE ORATORICAL CONTEST Commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Revised by MLK Commission 9/2022 – RULES & REGULATIONS –


I. Time Limitations

A. PRIMARY DIVISION (Grades kindergarten to 2nd) A time limit of two minutes will be permitted for orations.

B. INTERMEDIATE DIVISION (Grades 3rd to 5th) A time limit of three minutes will be permitted for orations.

C. JUNIOR DIVISION (Grades 6th to 8th) A time limit of four minutes will be permitted for orations.

D. SENIOR DIVISION (Grades 9th to 12th) A time limit of five minutes will be permitted for orations.

Note: Statewide competition division assignment is dependent on contestant grade at the time of regional competition. Independently registered contestant who had no regional competition available will compete in division based on grade at the time of registration date.

II. Presentation of Oration

A. Contestant will deliver oration from memory Notes on 3 x 5 index cards (optional).

B. Contestant will introduce himself/herself by stating in complete sentences: “Judges, Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is…”

1. Name (first and last names)

2. Age and grade

3. School

4. City

5. Topic (Time begins when topic is stated.)

III. Summary of Oration

Timekeeper will indicate wrap-up time one minute before time expires.


I. Contestant must submit an electronic copy of the composition (i.e., PDF, Word, etc.), typewritten, and double-spaced to MLK Holiday Commission by March 3, 2023.

NOTE: Compositions should be emailed to or faxed to 614-466-7949. All requests to return hard-copies of compositions must be submitted with a self-addressed stamped envelope.

A. Cover sheet for composition should include the following information:

1. Contestant’s name

2. Age and grade

3. School

4. City

5. Date

6. Topic

7. Statewide Oratorical Contest

8. Ambition

9. Coach/parent’s name

B. Penalty of five points will be subtracted from contestant or possible disqualification for failure to submit composition postmarked by March 3, 2023.

C. Notes on 3 x 5 index cards may be used in contest (optional). II. Contestant should provide a photo when submitting a copy of their composition to MLK Holiday Commission by March 3, 2023 (high resolution jpg).

NOTE: All requests to return photos must be submitted with a selfaddressed stamped envelope.

III. The coach/parent is permitted to assist the contestant during the composition of the speech and is requested to accompany the contestant at the contest. (The absence of the coach/parent will not affect the status of the contestant.) However, coaches/parents must remain a part of the audience. They may remain in view of contestant but must refrain from offering prompts and assistance in the delivery of the speech. O

IV. Contestants will be evaluated on the following criteria:

A. Aplomb (poise, self-confidence, audience appeal)

B. Voice quality (audibility, articulation, inflection of voice, moderation of pitch)

C. Physical dynamics (proper use of gestures)

D. Observance of time limit

E. Creativity and relevant content (poetic and/or musical interpretation is welcome)

F. Posture

G. Accuracy of content

H. Composition (punctuation, spelling, grammar, logic, appearance)

V. Each regional oratorical contest will send ONLY the first, second and third place winners to the statewide level competition.

VI. The decision of the judges is final.

VII. All contest materials and photos are the property of the MLK Holiday Commission. 

Any student who competed in any previous Statewide Oratorical Contest must prepare a new oration. All orations must be an original piece.

Creativity in selecting topics is encouraged. Below is a list of suggested topics. However, contestants’ choice of topic is not limited to the following:


• 2023 MLK Holiday Commission theme: o “Bridging the Divide: Daring to Dream Again”

• The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

• Relate one’s own commitment to Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence, peaceful protest and respect.

• “What Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life means to me…” (Expound on what this means to you.)

• “The 21st century depends upon me…” (Expound on what this means to you in terms of Dr. King or Kingian Principles in the 21st Century.)

• Research major events in Dr. King’s life: o End War in Vietnam Campaign o Letter from Birmingham Jail o March from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery o March on Washington, D.C. o Nobel Peace Prize o Pilgrimage to Nonviolence (Stride Toward Freedom) o Poor Peoples Campaign

NOTE: Oration topics shall not promote or call for violence or otherwise present themes that would oppose Dr. King’s legacy or principles of nonviolence. The MLK Holiday Commission reserves the right to select or not select any contest winner for participation in the commemorative celebration based on what the MLK Holiday Commission deems appropriate for the event.