HISD students share vision of MLK’s dream during 27th annual oratory competition

HOUSTON – In honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Houston Independent School District’s top 12 student finalists showcased their public speaking skills Friday at the final round of the 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. oratory competition.

Fourth and fifth-grade students presented their composed three-to-five-minute speeches addressing this year’s topic “What would Dr. King say to us today about hope for tomorrow?”

Kandence Smith, who attends Law Elementary, won this year’s competition.

See her speech here:


Watch the other finalists’ speeches below.

  • Camila Alfaro, Sutton Elementary
  • Masyn Mourning, Burrus Elementary
  • Arianna Guillory, Blackshear Elementary
  • Joy Nsude, Valley West Elementary
  • Keinner De Leon, Crespo Elementary
  • Ellis Britton, Briarmeadow Elementary
  • Xavier Holmes, Jr., Windsor Village Elementary
  • Kowin McCormick, Pleasantville Elementary
  • Zaria Jones, Thompson Elementary
  • Marquise Ambers, Cornelius Elementary
  • Journey Sensley, Young Elementary

This year’s judging criteria included delivery, stage presence, decorum, content interpretation, and memorization. The winner receives $1,000 while the runner-up receives $500. The third place winner receives a $300 prize. All other finalists each receive $100.