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Chicago Public Schools students celebrate Dr. MLK Jr. during oratory competition

Fourth- and fifth-graders answer the question: “What would Dr. King’s vision be for America in 2020?”

On Friday, Jan. 17, 13 fourth- and fifth-grade students from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will vie for the winning title during the final round of Chicago’s inaugural Foley & Lardner MLK Jr. Oratory Competition. The event invites local students to present original three-to-five-minute speeches addressing the topic: “What would Dr. King’s vision be for America in 2020?”

Students from four CPS schools participated in early January in in-school qualifying rounds to advance to the final round of competition. Participating schools include:

  • Robert A. Black Magnet School
  • Arthur L. Dixon Elementary
  • Wendell Smith Elementary
  • Mildred Lavizzo Elementary

Criteria for judging includes delivery, stage presence and decorum, content interpretation, and memorization. Judges include:

  • Hon. Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • Z Scott, President, Chicago State University
  • Eric Reeves, Managing Director & Chief Administrative Officer, Duchossois Capital Management
  • Ron Childs, Senior Media Strategist at Burrell Communications Group

The competition is being launched in Chicago after nearly 30 successful years in Houston and Dallas. Watch last year’s winners of the 27th Annual Foley & Lardner MLK Jr. Oratory Competition in Dallas and the 23rd Annual Foley & Lardner MLK Jr. Oratory Competition in Houston.

Be a part of the conversation online with #FoleyMLKOratory.


Friday, Jan. 17, 2020

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 


Palmer House Hotel, Empire Room

17 E Monroe St.

Chicago, IL 60603


In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, the competition is designed to highlight the cultural diversity of the community while recognizing and encouraging the writing and public speaking skills of elementary school students.

In January of 1966, Martin Luther King moved to Chicago to make the city the next proving ground for his nonviolent revolution and established the Chicago Freedom Movement. He and Mayor Richard J. Daley met at the Palmer House on Aug. 26, 1966. 


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