MLK Oratorical Contest 2022

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Minneapolis College seeks to “amplify beloved community” with it’s 2nd annual MLK Oratorical contest. For its inaugural year, the contest focused on race and exploring ways communities can heal from racial injustice. This year the focus is voting rights.

“The restrictions that are being brought to bear on voting seemed a timely and meaningful topic,” said Charles Watson, Coordinator of the African American Empowerment (AME) Program. Watson is also the committee chair for the College’s MLK Day programming committee.

“Every vote and every voice matters,” said Watson. “This is really what I think this year’s contest, and this year’s program, is about. Individual voices matter, and to what extent are those voices able or not able to be expressed by way of the ballot box.”

This year’s prompt blends quotes from King’s Give Us the Ballot speech, which he wrote in 1957, and his 1965 speech Civil Rights #1: The Right to Vote. “The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 and to see what was present in King’s mind then is very much an issue and concern now. How far have we really gotten?,” said Watson.

The oratorical contest will be a part of the MLK celebration taking place on Thursday, January 20, 2022. The contest is open to Minneapolis College students, as well as juniors and seniors attending Metro Area public high schools. According to Watson, it’s important to uplift the voices in the community, especially students.

“You put a megaphone or a microphone in someone’s hand to amplify their voice,” said Watson. “We are going to put the microphone in the hand of Minneapolis College students to amplify their voices around voting.”

In late January this year, the College held a celebration for the contest winners. Watson said the event was a success because it centered around how students are “making King real for them.”

“I am mindful of wanting to make King contemporary,” said Watson. “The legacy of King lives on. King is still relevant and timely in this day and age.

A $1000 scholarship to Minneapolis College will be awarded to five Minneapolis College students. Email submissions to Charles Watson at charles.watson@minneapolis.edu using the email subject line “MLK Day Oratorical Contest.”  

DEADLINE: Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Visit the MLK event webpage for more information.


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