The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

MLK inspires students to speak up

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Dick DeMarsico | Courtesy Photo

Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968, was a prominent leader during the Civil Rights Movement. He lead the movement nonviolently.

 

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contest celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. King, and seeks to inform the university community of the value in public presentation.
Applications for this annual public speaking contest are due for those interested by 5 p.m. Feb. 8. Sponsored by the African American Studies Department and the Mississippi State University Speech and Debate Council, the event is open to all majors and classifications.
The MLK Oratorical Contest was established four years ago, in order to foster an annual forum for students to improve upon public speaking skills. Participation requires no prior public speaking experience and all interested students are encouraged to apply. 
Cheryl Chambers, communication instructor and coach within the Speech and Debate Council, said she wishes to see students delve into the legacy of Dr. King. 
“We have sometimes seen more of a focus on biographical information, and I believe the legacy and the impact he left is really what is relevant to students today, especially in the political climate that we currently have,” Chambers said. 
Chambers said this is the Speech and Debate Council’s second year co-sponsoring the competition. The team assists applicants in outlining, writing and presenting their speeches.
“The speech team serves the purpose of helping students present themselves in a professional way, so their advice to applicants is invaluable,” Chambers said.
Dr. Stephen Middleton, professor within the African American Studies Department, explained the goals and mission of the MLK Oratorical Contest.
“We were moved by two considerations in doing so; we want more people of this generation to be aware of Dr. King as a leader, philosopher and a thinker,” Middleton said.
Middleton understands the importance of Dr. King’s work in seeking to resolve the racial volatility of the 1960s. He said he believes students can benefit from researching more on his history, and what his legacy means for students in today’s political environment. Middleton said he also supports the use of oratory in empowering individuals and motivating them to be agents of change. 
“African American Studies is an academic program, so we want our students to think critically, write effectively, and to be good communicators,” Middleton said.
Middleton hopes students will use the gift of oratory to help students grow academically and create leaders within the Mississippi State University’s campus. 
“What we hope students will discover from the King legacy, is how to use oratory for good, to unify, and to inspire,” Middleton said. “This is what we hope students will gain from this [contest]. I hope students will leave with a broader understanding of the world, and the relationships they can build with others.”
Middleton said he wants to see the MLK Oratorical Contest inspire the whole university. He said he wants to see the contest have participants from all departments. 
There are two rounds, consisting of a preliminary round and a final round. There are three judges for each round. 
Students who are deemed successful orators and those whose speech adheres to the ideals of Dr. King, will be awarded scholarship money. First place will receive $500, second place will receive $250, and third place will be awarded $100. 
Interested students should submit their applications to 287 Bowen Hall. Once a student submits their application, they will be given rules to follow for writing their speech. 
Throughout the week before the contest, students will have the opportunities to meet with Speech and Debate Council members to receive feedback on their speech. The contest will be held on Thursday, Feb. 16.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
MLK inspires students to speak up