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mlk oratory contest

Campus and Community Engagement, a unit of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is proud to announce the inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Word from the Mountain Top oratory contest. The purpose of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Word from the Mountain Top oratory contest is to recognize and give students the opportunity to reflect on the words of Dr. King while connecting his message to issues facing our nation in the 21st century. In addition, participants are provided an opportunity to display and enhance their own writing and communication skills through oration.

 View and download the 2024 Word from the Mountain Top Oratory Contest packet here.  


  • ELIGIBILITY: To be eligible all participants must be a middle school student currently enrolled in a Birmingham City School. Participants must also be residents of Birmingham, Alabama.

    CONTEST REGULATIONS: All speech content must comply with the following contest rules before submission:

    • Each speech must reflect the contestant’s own ideas, research, writing, and original thinking.
    • Only one (1) speech may be submitted by each contestant.
    • Speeches must be typed double space, 250 words minimum to 500 words max.
    • Speeches must require a minimum three minutes but not more than five minutes for delivery.
    • The cover page and bibliography are not counted in the four pages.
    • Each speech must include a title page, not considered text, with the following information:
      • Speech
      • Author's Name
      • Physical Address
      • Email Address
      • Telephone Number
      • School Name
      • Total number of pages

      The tittle of the speech MUST appear on the top of the first page of speech text. References should be included and clearly identified. Speeches will not be returned to the author; they become the property of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UAB. We may reprint the speeches in educational publications, future promotional material, and use them at community education workshops. Appropriate citations will be given to the authors.

  • HOW TO ENTER: Students must submit one copy of the completed typed- written speech (title included). This information should be delivered no later than December 22nd, 2023, at 12:00 p.m. Speeches can also be submitted electronically to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line: 2024 MLK Speech.


    Aquilla Stanback
    Division of Social Justice and Racial Equity Suite 203
    710 20th St. N.
    Birmingham, AL 35203


    The theme for this year’s contest is based on the thematic focus of the King Center. This theme is “It starts with me; shifting the cultural climate through the study and practice of Kingian Nonviolence.” As a theologian, Martin Luther King reflected often on his understanding of nonviolence. He described his own “pilgrimage to nonviolence” in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom, and in subsequent books and articles. “True pacifism,” or “nonviolent resistance,” King wrote, is “a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love” (King, 80). Both “morally and practically” committed to nonviolence, King believed that “the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.” (King, 79)

    King also outlined his principles for nonviolence. These six principles are: “Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people; nonviolence seeks to win friendships and understanding; nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice or evil, not people; nonviolence holds that unearned, voluntary suffering for a just cause can educate and transform people and societies; nonviolence chooses love instead of hate; and nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.”

    Today we still live with many injustices facing marginalized people and efforts to address those injustices are still a challenge. In our reflection of the legacy of Dr. King and the broader Civil Rights Movement’s accomplishments, a renewal of Kingian Nonviolence provides an opportunity for the new generation of leaders to have a framework for combatting injustice. In keeping with the realization of this year’s oratory theme “It starts with me; shifting the cultural climate through the study and practice of Kingian Nonviolence,” participants are encouraged to use the King Center’s resources found at their website kingcenter.org to serve as an inspiration to reflect and prepare a speech in which they discuss:


    ASSIGNED TOPIC: The assigned speech topic must not require less than three minutes or more than five minutes for delivery. The purpose of the assigned topic is to test the speaker’s knowledge of the subject, the extent of his/her research, and the ability to discuss the topic as related to the basic principles of Dr. Martin Luther King’s message.

    SELECTION: Three finalists will be contacted and invited to perform their written speeches on January 19, 2024.

  • First Place: $500

    Second Place: $300

    Third Place: $200




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